Lost & Found: Wonder Showzen


Wonder Showzen is one of those bizarre TV creations that shouldn’t have been allowed to air. A kids programme designed for adults, it blends animation with live-action to create an alternative variety show that is ingenious yet undeniably offensive.

Its opening credits set the scene for what’s to come, announcing, “Wonder Showzen contains offensive, despicable content that is too controversial and too awesome for actual children.”

It’s understandable that its assortment of cartoons, puppets and musical numbers could easily be misconstrued, but its subject content is far too mature and insulting to be considered appropriate fodder for children.

Each episode revolves around themes that range from slavery to justice and act as the focal point around which the various sketches are presented. Of the sketches themselves, one of the more memorable segments is “Beat Kids”, where children acting as roving reporters ask controversial questions to people on the street. In one scene, a young girl walks up to a corporate looking man and asks, “Who did you exploit today?”

The similarity Wonder Showzen shares with programmes such as Sesame Street is uncanny, but where the latter uses puppets as a learning platform to teach kids how to read, count and behave correctly in society, the former uses the same technique of child/puppet interaction to create searing satire for adults. Instigated mainly through the sarcastic, yellow fluff ball Chauncey Darlington Butler, questions are posed such as, “Where do babies come from?” and “What is your greatest wish?” the most notable answer being, “I wish I had my innocence back.” It’s this commentary on American culture that gives the show its razor-sharp edge and allows it to stand out against other tentative styled comedy.

While moments tread a fine line between humour and political correctness, the means at which it’s presented is intended ironically. However, it’s understandable that many viewers could find the content somewhat racist and tasteless.

For those that like their TV unorthodox and outlandish, this is a comedic gem that places standard conventions on their head; a hilariously risqué show that points out all that’s askew in society.

Taken from The Studentpublished Tue Feb 28th 2012.

Newsround honoured at BAFTA Children’s Awards

Featuring the very best in children’s film, television, games and online media, the 2011 British Academy Children’s Awards saw a host of top presenters lead an evening of celebrations at the London Hilton, Park Lane last night.

The Awards saw a number of double-wins, most notably the final instalment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, which received both the reputable Best Feature Film Award and the BAFTA Kids’ vote in the ‘Film’ category. This comes as a fitting finale to the series, which has seen enormous success across its films and has already received the Outstanding Contribution to Cinema Award at the Orange British Academy Film Awards earlier this year. With the DVD boxset being released on December 2nd, marking the end of an era, it only seems apt that Harry Potter is given its due recognition as a film that is fundamentally geared towards children.

Other double-winners included Peppa Pig, which won the award for Best Pre-School Animation; an accolade it previously picked up in 2005. Nine-year old Harley Bird, who voices the character Peppa, received the award for Best Performer. Cartoon Network’s, The Amazing World of Gumball, which cleverly combines various animation techniques, won Best Animation and Best Writer, whilst children’s wildlife programme Deadly 60 won Best Factual Programme and Best Presenter, for adventurer Steve Backshall.

A special award was presented to Newsround, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Recognised as the world’s first regular news bulletin for children, it seeks to introduce the young to current affairs, covering world news, sport, science and the environment. The gong was received by John Craven, who presented the show when it first started in 1972 until he left in 1989 to join Countryfile.

As Craven, 71, commented last night, “Newsround was the first show of its kind in the world and I’m deeply thankful to Bafta for recognising it as such.”

“Newsround was, and always will be, my little baby and I couldn’t be more proud of it now it’s all grown up.”

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said: “Getting young people interested in and engaged with film, television, video games and online media is a very important part of BAFTA’s charitable activity, which takes place all year round.”

“The Awards ceremony celebrated the very finest talent behind the nation’s favourite children’s television shows, films, games and websites, and the nominees and winners are incredible inspirations to the next generation of creative talent in Britain. We encourage kids everywhere to follow in their footsteps.”

The list of winners is as follows:

Special Award: Newsround

Animation: The Amazing World Of Gumball

Channel of the Year: CBeebies

Comedy: Horrible Histories

Drama: Just William

Entertainment: Trapped

Factual: Deadly 60

Feature Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

Independent Production Company: Kindle Entertainment

Interactive: Tate Movie Project

International: Fish Hooks

Learning – Primary: Quiff and Boot

Learning – Secondary: Privates

Performer: Harley Bird – Peppa Pig

Pre-School Animation: Peppa Pig

Pre-School Live Action: Bookaboo

Presenter: Steve Backshall – Deadly 60

Short Form: Dipdap

Video Game: LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Writer: James Lamont, Jon Foster – The Amazing World of Gumball

Bafta Young Game Designers: Rollin’ Scotch

Feature Film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

Television: Good Luck Charlie

Video Games: Just Dance 2

Websites: Bin Weevils

Taken from The Student, published online Mon Nov 28th 2011.

BAFTA Scotland Awards Great Success

Robbie Coltrane, Peter Capaldi and Richard Wilson at BAFTA Scotland Awards. Photo Credit: Matt Dale

THE BRITISH Academy of Film and Television Arts Scotland Awards have come to a close for another year, with Robbie Coltrane picking up an accolade for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Donkeys and Neds both receiving two awards apiece.

Comedian Kevin Bridges presented the festivities which took place at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow, as guests enjoyed an evening celebrating the best of Scottish entertainment. Peter Mullan, who led the field with awards for Best Director and Best Writer for his gritty teenage drama Neds, seemed apprehensive as he arrived off the red carpet, telling The Student, “I’m a bit jaded, in the sense that I’ve been to too many (awards) and so don’t think you appreciate it as much.” However, he later retracted this statement following his win, where he emphasised his genuine surprise.

Upcoming Scottish actress Jayd Johnson impressed everyone as she came up to accept the award for Best Actor/Actress in Television, completely at a loss for words. As she told The Student afterwards, “I can’t believe I’ve just made a speech, I’ve no idea what I said but I’m really proud and honoured.”

With her co-actors Ford Kiernan and Peter Capaldi also being up for the award, she had nothing but praise for the other two, “Ford and Peter were so complimentary about me and I would have been nothing without them. I wouldn’t have won this if it wasn’t for them.”

James Cosmo was visibly moved at winning the award for Best Actor/Actress in Film, an honour that clearly meant a great deal to him. “I’m really, really chuffed; it’s a wonderful feeling. Making that movie (Donkeys) was a labour of love for everyone and I’m really privileged to be a part of it.”

Following a year’s absense of the event, Jude MacLaverty, Director of BAFTA Scotland said, “We’re thrilled to see the British Academy Scotland Awards return for such a fantastic night.” The evening was seen as a huge success, its revision from the Awards review evidently doing it justice. It also emphasised the importance for members of the Scottish creative industry to have their own national awards, as Robbie Coltrane told The Student, “I think that we acknowledge the talent we have here. There’s only 4 million of us, there’es three times that amount living in Manchester. Without sounding too smug, I think we do quite well.”

Taken from The Student, published Tue Nov 15th 2011.