You see, if you want to read about children’s television, it is remarkably hard to actually find books about the programmes themselves. Mostly, books pretending to be about television for children are actually about controlling children. Or, if you prefer euphemism, asserting that children are being corrupted by the programmes. No doubt, you’ll find the ones warning about gay teletubbies if you look hard enough.
Alternatively, you can have academic works repackaged for general readers. These are mostly unreadable data-dumps. The unfortunate toilers in the mines of scholarship are understandably keen to present all those hard won interviews and survey forms. But what about us, the poor readers? Nobody cares about what we may have wanted.
At the other end, the nostalgia television book market peddles recycled plot synopses, page filling press kit photographs and glib unoriginality. This is the equivalent of gorging on food pills when what you’d like is a good old plate of ravioli. Unsatisfactory, fails to meet your needs and unenjoyable with it.
Ruth Inglis’ book promises ‘A Half-century of Children’s Television’. What she mostly gives us is a thinking persons decade by decade highlights reel. That may seem like faint praise, but when the alternatives look like this you quickly come to appreciate the value of actual highlights combined with decent quality thinking.