Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fireman Sam

Over the last few months I have been watching a lot of Fireman Sam. It's not out of choice it's because my son who's 2 and a half watches little else. He loves Fireman Sam with a love that appears to out-weigh the love he has for his parents. The problem is that as you sit with your child engaging with them and talking about what's happening on the television you start to question things.

Fireman Sam (if you're not familiar) is set in the coastal town of Pontypandy somewhere in south Wales. The town itself has around 150 houses (that's a ball park figure culled from many images of fire engines driving through). It has a supermarket, a fish and chip shop, and a fire station... and yet we only ever see 15 residents, and a sheep. 15. That's all. It seems that the Welsh Assembly haven't had their attention drawn to the town where 4 of the 15 residents are in the Fire Department, or, that the other 145 households are too scared to venture out of their houses due to the antics of the 11 pyromaniac residents.

Every week there is another fire emergency started (generally) by Norman Price, a ginger haired psychopath who endangers life and limb and eventually gets a stern talking to. He deserves to be placed into a youth offender's institution. These emergencies happen invariably on the watch of Sam Jones, the titular Fireman Sam. Sam has a firm chin, a nice line in payoff gags and a simple way of dealing with life; if in doubt point a hose at it.

The recent debacle of "The Great Fire Of Pontypandy" is a great example of the worry I have for the residents of the town. Sam and his cohorts allowed a forest fire to threaten the town, causing a mass evacuation. The only people to turn up at the quay side to be taken safely out to sea were the usual 15 people (apart from Tom Thomas the random Australian helicopter pilot). Where were the others? Were they locked in their houses by the blood thirsty ringleaders left to burn in some sort of pre teen massacre?

So what is the point of all of this? Am I really that bored that I have to analyse children's programmes? No, doing something like this can really help us when we come up against the media. You may well have written a splendid press release that tells a story of light and love, possibly involving a benign fire safety obsessed welsh man and when you walk into the interview, you realise that they have really been thinking about it far too much.

How do you counter a journalist who has over thought it? Be honest, be clear and be kind. The popping of the over blown intellectual bubble that they have produced could shock both of you.

Just remember, sometimes the answer is... it's just a cartoon.

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