TV blog: The World According to Kids

Benjie Goodhart / 07 April 2017

A straightforward but charming look at childhood. Plus, the best of the rest of the week on TV.

The World According to Kids, Thursday 13th April, 8pm, BBC Two

Kids, eh? They’re a bit like people, only smaller and totally mental. Anyone who’s ever had kids knows that they are titchy bundles of hilariousness, each one with their own individual take on the world, and their own collection of foibles and quirks. That said, they’re also absolute parasites who suck every last ounce of money, energy and patience from you, before they decide, aged 14, that they know everything there is to know, and can now dispense with your services (apart from as a bank-cum-taxi service).

So what could be better than a series that allows us to enjoy all the humour, innocence and unspoilt gloriousness of kids, without the bit where you have to wipe their bottoms or stop them from killing their sibling? The World According to Kids is a six-part series in which the cameras follow children aged 6-11 at home, at school, and at play.

The theme of tonight’s show is fear and danger. We encounter a theatre group in Gloucester, a children’s choir in Liverpool, and a tiny primary school on the Isle of Mull. The children’s fears range from the mundane (motorbikes) to the weird (spilled milk) to the utterly and completely rational (clowns, possibly the most sinister things in existence).

Poor Meera, though. Her fear is of being unsuccessful, which is hard work for a nine-year-old. She is up at 5:50am every day for a pre-school routine including bible studies, English, maths and piano. I consider the week a triumph if I’ve managed to get my nine-year-old to not set fire to his own head. Meera is already focussing on her career. I don’t think I’ve started to do that yet.

We all have our crosses to bear. Eoin has a form of dwarfism, and he hates missing out on rides that his friends can go on. But he’s beautiful and determined and brave. He’s also desperate to get a stool in the kitchen so he can do the washing up. Eh? I’m going seriously wrong somewhere.

Jade is a cheerful bundle of energy, who says she never wants to grow up and have to look after herself and leave her mum and dad. Wait til you’re a teenager, Jade. And Bruce is sneaking in under the radar at the age of five, but you can see why they featured him anyway. He goes to a school where he is one of only eight pupils, but he doesn’t get bored because on Mull you can “go off in the fields and chase sheep.” Clearly X-Boxes aren’t big business on Mull, then. However, Bruce doesn’t just stay on Mull. He assures us he regularly teleports to China. Which is nice.

This is a straightforward but charming look at childhood. All you really need is a camera and a chatty kid. Leave it long enough, and they’ll produce gold. Kids: alchemists every last one.

Warship, Monday 10th April, 8pm, Channel 4

Warship is a new, three part documentary series going behind the scenes on HMS Ocean, to reveal what day-to-day life is like on board the British navy’s biggest ship. Also on Channel 4 this week is Battleship, an American feature film. For the purposes of clarification, if you find yourself watching TV and the navy is waging war against a terrifying alien species that has landed in the Pacific, it’s not the documentary series. Similarly, if the most dangerous thing you see is the navy testing its missiles against large, inflatable, immobile tomatoes, you’re not watching a Hollywood blockbuster.

HMS Ocean has a crew of 1,000. It boasts 8 helicopters, 14 decks, a police force, a pub, a laundry, and shops spread out over its 208m length. This series follows the Ocean and its crew on a deployment to the Gulf. Assuming they’ll actually get there. The boat’s engines seem to have a habit of not working. I had an old Peugeot like that once. But my old Peugeot wasn’t meant to be leading task forces through geopolitically sensitive war zones in the Middle East.

The youngest crew member on the Ocean is Kira, a 17-year-old trainee engineer. As a lower rank, her accommodation is a bunk the size of a postage stamp – and not one of those big commemorative postage stamps you get a Christmas. But Kira doesn’t mind. She’s relentlessly cheerful.

Actually, everyone seems to be very cheerful. The whole thing feels a little bit like an extended advert for the navy. One sequence features the ship’s second-in-command telling Kira and another newbie “I intend to have a good time. You need to have as much fun as me. If you’re not, you’re failing.” Hmm. What happened to 40 lashes with the cat o’nine tails, and dried biscuits for tea?

I don’t expect an access-all-areas film revealing the Ocean’s vulnerabilities and the nation’s nuclear codes, but this seems altogether too airbrushed. We have a sequence, for example, in which we follow Kira as she is called to change a plug. It’s hardly the Battle of Jutland.

But, lest we forget that there is a serious side to all of this, there is a riveting and moving sequence in which the ship’s oldest crewmember, Paddy, recalls being on the Atlantic Conveyor when it was hit and sunk during the Falklands War. It is a salutary reminder that Paddy, Kira, and the other 998 crewmembers on board HMS Ocean do more than just change plugs and have fun, and we owe them all a debt.

The best… and the rest

Saturday 8th April

The Grand National, ITV, 2pm: The day when everyone becomes an equine expert for a few hours, before ripping up their betting slips in disgust for another year.

An Evening with Take That, 8:30pm, ITV: The world’s oldest boyband play their greatest hits and (shudder) new material in front of a specially invited audience of hyperventilating fans.

Monday 10th April

Devon and Cornwall Cops 1/4, ITV, 8pm: A look at the world of policing in the West Country. Which, I imagine, is much like policing everywhere else, albeit with more aesthetically pleasing coastlines.

University Challenge, 8:30pm, BBC Two: The final has arrived, with Balliol College Oxford taking on Wolfson College, Cambridge, led by the iconic figure of Eric Monkman. The Monkman cometh…

Tuesday 11th April

The Olivier Awards, 8pm, ITV: Jason Manford presents the awards for the best theatrical shows of the last 12 months.

Car Share, 9pm, BBC One: Return of the simply magical comedy about John and Kayleigh (Peter Kay and Sian Gibson) sharing a car to-and-from work. Glorious.

Obesity: How Prejudiced is the NHS, 9pm, BBC Two: This look at whether our larger citizens are discriminated against by the NHS is on immediately after Bake Off: Crème de la Crème.

Our Friend Victoria 1/6, 9:30pm, BBC One: Infuriatingly, previews of this show were unavailable, but it’s a look back at the life and work of the irreplaceable Victoria Wood, so what more do you need to know.

Read our archive interview with Victoria Wood

Wednesday 12th April

Reported Missing 1/4, 9pm, BBC One: Sobering new series following various searches for missing people up and down the country.

The Knowledge: The World’s Toughest Taxi Test, 9pm, Channel 4: A behind-the-scenes look at the incredibly arduous test that means the difference between having a shiny gold light on top of your taxi, or earning a pittance as a driver for an online minicab firm.

Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience 1/4, 10pm, BBC Two: Return of the series in which the comedian tries a range of careers. Tonight, he’s attempting to sell houses in Cwmbran, Wales.

My Online Nightmare, 10pm, Channel 4: A look at some of the ploys used by scammers and fraudsters on the internet, and at the financial and emotional toll they wreak.

Beat the scammers – read all about the scams you need to avoid

Thursday 13th April

The Detectives: Inside the Major Crimes Team, 9pm, ITV: Three-part documentary series covering the work of the Lancashire police force. Are there any police forces yet to be filmed? They’ll be getting agents and asking for Equity cards next.

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