John Lennon at the CMC?

Posted on: Saturday 02 July 2011 4:17pm

Colin Ward on why he cares about children’s media,  is not in favour of the international children’s market, plus his plans to bring John Lennon – well his lyrics anyway – to  the CMC.

(Below. can you spot Colin amongst the Johns?)

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

In 2005 I decided to take a three year sabbatical from kids’ media. I wanted to work with young people with challenging behaviour, start a family, and try my hand at writing a book (not necessarily in that order). Six years later my daughter is five, I’ve learned a lot about why they call it ‘challenging behaviour’, and the first book of the trilogy ‘Cities of Erüle’ is almost finished (*sigh*)  But although I stayed away much longer than intended I have never lost my passion for children’s media. 

Why is that? Why do I get excited when I see a stunningly good show like Rastamouse or Horrible Histories for the first time? Why do I feel sad when I click on the Citv homepage and the programme title at the top of the list is still My Parents Are Aliens, which was decommissioned in 2006? Why do I feel the need to take issue with people when they talk about a ‘mature’ children’s audience? What was it that made me want to give up my spare time to support an organisation riding into battle under the contrary banner ‘Children Deserve The Best Television’?

(BTW, I need you to know that at this precise moment I have no idea how to answer that question, so I’m going to have to sit here and work it out… Ah yes, I think my editor sent me something about the CMC conference themes for 2011… let’s see… thinking differently? Wasn’t that the Apple slogan from 1997? Ok, that’s close enough).

Well, it’s true. I love the fact that children don’t think like grown-ups. I love the fact that producers in kids’ media are encouraged – or certainly should be encouraged – to play with their imaginations. I love the madness of it. I love the diversity. And I still love the diversity, even though it’s getting harder and harder to nurture those truly original ideas. I worry that we are no longer allowed to let people ‘think different’. If you’re going to navigate the shark infested waters of the international children’s media market then it’s hard to take risks. (I’d rather we didn’t have an international children’s media market. I mean, what’s the point? Imagine if the only place you could buy food was in an ‘international food market’ where everything had to appeal to everyone? No marmalade – the europeans hate it. No fish and chips – ‘If we amortise costs across multiple markets the sort of margins we can work on for burger and chips are much more attractive.’ And, of course, no tripe and onions… Ok, nix the tripe and onions, but you get the point.

So at this year’s CMC I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing something original. And whatever it is, it will be original because, somewhere down the line, someone thought differently. I hope to see media content that surprises and hear thoughts and ideas that inspire.

And please, Mr Editor, don’t send me to any sessions on international co-productions!……

((“oh dear, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it”…..Mr Ed)) 

I plan to shoe-horn a John Lennon quote into all my blog posts for the CMC 2011, hopefully finishing onI guess we’re more popular than Jesus.’ – Colin