Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Knickers have been a little twisted in the UK this week over an issue which, quite frankly, has not merited the amount of column space given over to it.
And here I am adding to the word count when other bloggers have written about it at least half as well as I am about to (ha ha ha)...!
To clarify for my international readers: we have a kids channel here in the UK called CBeebies and they have employed a lovely blonde presenter called Cerrie Burnell to do the fill-in slots between the various kid’s programmes.
She’s warm voiced, gentle, enthusiastic, obviously a mum herself (you can just tell) and she was born with only one hand. Her other arms finishes just below the elbow.
And neither of my boys – Ben who is 7 and Tom who is 16 months – care a damned fig about it.
Sadly a very small minority of “well meaning parents” (i.e. sentimental bigots) have written in to the BBC’s various online forums to complain that Cerrie’s physical differences could “scare” their young children.
My first reaction was to shake my head with pity that such small minded people not only exist in the world but are also polluting their own children with their xenophobic and ridiculously neurotic points of view.
But as the newsworthiness of this debate has grown with more and more press coverage and Cerrie herself being called in to take part in worthy “spread the message” interviews my pity has turned to exasperation and annoyance.
She’s a presenter and an actress doing a job like everybody else. Her physicality in this day and age should just not be an issue for anybody.
It’s certainly not an issue for my boys. I think Ben commented with vague interest once about Cerrie’s arm but didn’t really seem that bothered. As for Tom. He’s pretty much accepting of all that goes on around him and doesn’t see anything at all as “abnormal” or out of the ordinary. It is all new. All part of the adventure. And all entertaining.
If only our species could retain the mindset of a 16 month old baby... how much happier the world would be.
The only positive to come out of all this is, I suppose, the debate it has sparked and the huge wave of support that Cerrie has received from the majority of the population who are well balanced, intelligent, cogent and capable of coherent thought processes. As she says, if kids ask questions about her hand then just tell them the truth – she was born with it like many other people in the world and it doesn’t stop her from doing anything at all. It’s a good opportunity to try and educate them gently about such issues and nurture them into well balanced, emotionally sound adults.
I doubt that a single one of them will have nightmares about it... unless the parent completely mishandles the situation, of course... and that responsibility is hardly Cerrie’s or the BBC’s...
But it is a shame to have such a sweet, innocent children’s programme marred with such heavy-duty adult issues. But then again I suspect it is only us adults who are picking up on that anyway. The kids just want to get on to the cartoons and the fluffy puppets.
Well, don’t we all?
To my mind then, Cerrie’s only (to use an old 70’s word) handicap is her co-presenter, Alex Winters, who is so wet, bland and lifeless he looks like he spends his free-time taking part in Agatha Christie Murder Weekends playing the corpse. I’ve never seen a man on TV so damned dreary. It’s as if he’s constantly holding back, afraid to commit himself to the nursery rhymes or the baby talk in case his RADA mates see him and rip the pee out of him later in the pub.
If anyone is physically unable to do the job it is him.
As for Cerrie, she can read me a bedtime story and stroke my furry teddy any night of the week...