Big Cook Little Cook
I have to watch children’s programmes [or proground’s as my son has it] because I live in a relatively small house in London where my children’s audio / visual consumption becomes my audio / visual consumption. I do try and opt out but it’s futile. At least at 6am it’s futile when I can’t, frankly, be arsed to get out the paint set or start baking a cake. Most kids progrounds are rubbish. Make no mistake, young children are poor arbiters of taste [though they know a bad-egg person don’t they, funny that]. However, once in a while against all the odds [perhaps because you have a pretty wide brief when creating for people who can neither read nor write and only have the most rudimentary understanding of spoken English] there comes along a gem. Sure you can argue over Bagpuss, The Clangers, Trumpton etc. but there are modern day classics too. 64 Zoo Lane was one. My favourite is Big Cook Little Cook….
Richard Herring does a far better job than me of describing this virtuoso comedy, which is in itself quite a feat considering he’s mostly still pissed when watching. The show is based around a big cook, Ben, and a little cook, Small, who make appropriate meals for guests of their cafe. For example, the rabbit gets carrot cakes and the decorator gets a themed edible brush. For visual effect each meal is replete with enough colouring to give it’s middle class parental audience palpatations. However, one ingredient for the meal is always missing. Small is sent to find it on his flying wooden spoon and in the process we find out that the production staff have wealthy family residing in the countryside with nothing better to do than grow carrots or spinach.
Big cook, Ben, appears to be huge while Little Cook, Small, is tiny. It is not clear whether Ben is truly huge or Small is truly small. What is clear is that both actors excel in being awful, with Ben, Big Cook, shading it on cheesy smiles, trying to hide his contempt for the audience and his embarassment at having to stoop to make kids TV [the pair were spotted doing comedy on BBC4 recently, more their bag no doubt, but to an audience no bigger than you get in my local]. Small also happens to look like Dennis Pennis. There are no knowing nods, no innuendo’s, nowt but pure unadulterated kids TV which also happens to be funny.
Watch it. Don’t go out of your way, but if you happen to be at a loose end on a wet weekday morning turn to BBC2 [8am UK].
Mr Herring’s Hercules challenge
is also worth checking out. He’s a funny guy. A funny guy who is quite desperate.