No one can accuse me of being pig ignorant when it comes to kids television.
Especially not when it comes to a certain animated pig who has conspired to rob me of my daughter.
For the month of October TV channel Nick Jr 2 has been taken over by Peppa Pig. From 3am to midnight it broadcasts back-to-back episodes of the show which targets children of pre-school age with bright colours and pig-based tomfoolery.
Up until October Lucy had been a moderate viewer of television. There were a few shows she liked, but none that she couldn’t live without. Peppa Pig had always been one of her favourites, but since the advent of a Peppa channel, the word favourite doesn’t come close to describing her feelings for the little cartoon swine.
Her obsession is triggered any time she sees a TV, at which point she gesticulates wildly and demands Peppa be put on. In the absence of a TV she’s been known to pick up Ben’s baby monitor, point at the screen, and ask, “Peppa Pig on?”
When there were just a few episodes of Peppa available during the day we got away with the explanation that there was no Peppa on, or when Lucy watched one of her Peppa DVDs it stood to reason that Peppa was finished when the DVD ran out. The problem during October has been that somehow she’s picked up that the possibility of Peppa Pig is potentially perpetual.
Rather cruelly we’ve had to resort to turning off the TV and telling her that it’s run out of batteries.
On the occasions we cave in and allow her to watch her favourite show, the reaction is unadulterated glee followed by a trance-like state as Peppa’s adventures take her to the playground, the funfair or on a camping trip.
There’s a certain utopia to Peppa Pig’s world. She introduces each episode by saying, “I’m Peppa Pig. This is my brother George. This is Mummy Pig and this is Daddy Pig.” The show is abound with an innocence you’ll do well to find elsewhere in today’s mixed-up society.
Consider the alternative...
“I’m Peppa Pig. This is my half-sister Georgina, who used to be my half-brother George. This is Mummy Pig, these are my two Daddy Pigs, and this is Mummy Pig’s girlfriend Fifi. Thanks for having us on The Jeremy Kyle Show.”
As well as robbing me of my daughter for large chunks of the day, there’s another side effect to Peppa Pig. Peppa’s favourite activity is jumping in muddy puddles and therefore my daughter’s favourite activity is jumping in muddy puddles.
While the mess that’s made in the cartoon can easily be cleaned up with the aid of an eraser, Lucy’s relentless splashing in anything loosely resembling a puddle has caused us to invest heavily in Vanish, whose executives, upon reading this plug, will hopefully send me a year’s supply.
Peppa Pig offers a ‘Catch 22’ situation to parents. On one hand it is dangerously addictive and causes kids to take great pleasure in destroying their good clothes. But on the other, if you really need a bit of peace and quiet to get something done Peppa is the televisual equivalent of a mild sedative.
In fairness to the show itself, it’s one of the better kids programmes available.
I watched seven episodes back to back on Sunday.
“Right, time to turn off Peppa now,” said my wife.
“Do we have to?” I asked.
“It’s up to you,” she said. “But your daughter went to bed an hour ago.”