It’s been reported in the media that kids’ TV show Peppa Pig is creating an unrealistic expectation of the NHS and that this is ‘piling pressure’ on by encouraging inappropriate use of its services. Piling the pressure on. Groaning under the weight of all those families that expect their GP to answer his own phone, provide immediate appointments, to make home visits and to prescribe inappropriate medicines for rashes and colds.
Now, I’m really hoping that the article written for The BMJ by Sheffield GP and mother Dr. Catherine Bell is just a bit of fun – just tongue-in-cheek. Surely, she can’t actually believe that a children’s TV programme aimed at preschoolers is the reason the NHS is facing a crisis? Can she? I mean, it’s nothing to do with the lack of funding, an ageing population, understaffing or the unhealthy, stressful lifestyles we all lead now, is it? No. Apparently, it’s the residents of Peppa’s town using and abusing poor, overworked Dr. Brown Bear that is bringing the NHS to its knees.
So this got me thinking… Which other unrealistic expectations of services are being portrayed so recklessly by kids’ TV? Let’s stick with Peppa Pig for a while longer…
Early years provision: as an Early Years Professional in my previous life, I’ve always been very concerned by the childcare practices that go on in Madame Gazelle’s playgroup. Her child:staff ratios are clearly way out, and I don’t know how she’s not been reported to Ofsted yet. There’s no evidence of her planning for the children’s individual needs and I have to wonder how up to date her safeguarding training is. And the school needs a new roof – clearly unsafe. However, the parents seem quite happy with all this, forcing the rest of us to question our judgment at choosing the best childcare settings in our area for our little darlings.
Miss Rabbit: Miss Rabbit has to have a special mention. Women the world over are known for their multitasking abilities, but Miss Rabbit takes it to a whole new level. This is leading to the rest of us developing feelings of inferiority, anxiety, and worthlessness, and has to stop before womanhood is brought down completely. I can only surmise that Miss Rabbit can do it all because she doesn’t have kids, and clearly can’t cope with her own niece and nephew, so that makes me feel a tiny bit better.
Mr. Bull, the binman/taxi driver/nurse/construction worker: Mr. Bull is making a concerted effort to copy Miss Rabbit’s multitasking abilities, but still has a long way to go. However, this implies that men have the ability to multitask and this is clearly unrealistic and downright dangerous. Stop it, Mr. Bull.
Now let’s look at a couple of other shows…
Postman Pat: Pat has come a long way since the days when I watched him as a kid. Not content with pootling around Greendale in his bright red van, he now has a chopper and a ‘Special Delivery Service‘. Not something I can see Royal Mail adopting anytime soon. Plus, Pat’s a lot more motivated than most posties I see – happy to jump in to save the day whenever things go pear-shaped, which is often in Greendale. Calm down, Pat.
Fireman Sam: Where do we start with Sam? Have you ever known so many disasters happen in one small, rural place like Pontypandy? Fires left, right and centre, which, considering the strong firefighter presence in the village, is worrying. No cuts to services in Pontypandy! No, instead, Sam also has access to a range of fancy equipment such as a lifeboat and helicopter as well as several fire appliances. I get the impression there aren’t many 999 calls Sam would turn down, unlike real-life fire brigades (quite rightly), meaning hoax calls and calls by thoughtless people asking for mountain rescue to help them get down from the top bunk will continue. It’s a dangerous practice, Sam.
Bing: I’m concerned that Flop, Bing Bunny’s carer/surrogate parent/squishy thing and his uber-calm demeanor is making parents all over the world feel that they’re parenting all wrong. Despite Bing being an absolutely annoying little sod much of the time, Flop never raises his voice, never loses his s***, never flicks the ‘v’s behind Bing’s back, never tells Bing to ‘starve then!’ when he refuses the meal he’s just slaved over all afternoon… He doesn’t moan when Bing wees all over the floor, doesn’t get angry when Bing breaks stuff, but just puts it in a ‘bye-bye box’ instead of making a point of dramatically throwing it in the bin, and doesn’t even start googling ‘signs your child might grow up to be a serial killer’ when he kills a butterfly (just me?!). It’s no wonder Flop was approved as a foster carer despite being a single male; he just doesn’t get ruffled. How can the rest of us possibly compete? Our new mantra must be “WWFD” – ‘What Would Flop Do?‘
So, it’s not just Peppa Pig that is causing a crisis in the UK. Clearly, children’s telly has a lot to answer for and probably should be stopped altogether. After all, it’s totally real, right?
Let me know in the comments if there are any other dangerous kids’ TV shows that must be stopped!