Polydor Records, 1999This month sees the return of a pop band that signifies my generation is now firmly in the category of ‘nostalgia marketing’ in the eyes of the music industry: S Club 7. The announcement last November that Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Rachel Stevens, Jo O’Meara, Hannah Spearritt, Bradley McIntosh and Jon Lee would be returning – with a reunion performance on BBC Children in Need and a 2015 UK tour – sent ripples of ecstasy through my Facebook feed (occupied, as it is, nowadays by engagements, work outings and the occasional overboard night out).
Tonight comes the second episode of Free Speech, BBC3’s latest invention in its uphill struggle to make politically conscious television interesting for young people.
The show, which kicked off last month with a live broadcast from Queen Mary in east London, is effectively Question Time for young people. Its arrival was loud, its guests were louder, and, sadly, it proved how far we have to go before we see intelligent and critical debate shows for the young generation.
It was a time of innocence, of compassion, of playfulness. A time before the Nanny State, rampant gang culture and too many road accidents caused parents to forbid their children from “playing out.” Before the web became everyone’s favourite distraction, before video games conquered the home and before Toy Day was brushed aside by schools for being “too childish.” It was the golden age of children’s television, and I never imagined I would feel such an attachment to it.
Science and technology magazines aren’t popular reading for many five to 12-year-olds. I know I would have taken Beano or Sonic the Comic over New Scientist any day when I was that age. But, with a little help from Wallace and Gromit, Techno Quest bravely sought to get kids into science.