Friday, 28 June 2013

Joshua Jones

When it came to keeping up with the times, the BBC weren't shy of doing so with their Children's Programmes either - shows like 'Mary, Mungo and Midge' (1969) 'Pigeon Street' (1981) and 'Bertha' (1986) truly stood out by slowly introducing its young audience to the likes of urban living, industry and characters of "mixed ethic groups", which are more apparent than ever these days.

So by the time 'Joshua Jones' came along in 1991, it gave us plenty of looks on life - the calm canals, the open countryside and the busy factories of Biggot Wharf downriver, all featuring different and memorable characters. Such as the retired Indian Admirable Baboo Karia, Joe Laski the Hungarian farmer and even the "Liverpudlian Lovers", Sharon and Spanner!

Joshua Jones was created by Bumper Films for SC4 Wales, the same folks who gave us Fireman Sam back in 1987, so it's no surprise why this has become another favourite of mine. With a mixture of characters, settings and dialects to choose from, every episode is a surprise with sub-plots used to splendid effect. It's also helped by the vocal talents provided by George Layton and Barbara Flynn.

In all, it's a great little series that introduces children to various cultures and lifestyles, blended with captivating storytelling. In case of Mr. Cashmore, some "grown up" stuff reg; business and office-work, from Daphne Peacock the Vet the importance of looking after animals and the wildlife, and even some river-knowledge from Joshua himself. So there's a little for everyone without being too direct.

All the same, given that the United Kingdom today has just about every person from across the globe within our British Waters, the Beeb are always, always careful when handling "foreign" characters in children's television. The days when overly-stereotypic imitations of the 1950's are considered a no-no by today's standards - which I agree, but to a point. Personally, I wouldn't mind as much so long as "foreign" characters are written as interesting ones, not just for Worldwide Marketing or thrown in for contemporary reasons...


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