Blue Peter for Big Boys

If it's Seventies innuendo they want; no need to watch Bake Off...... I can do that.

I understand perfectly well that in the interests of good order and preserving love and affection between couples, that there must be some basic rules in place based on mutual trust and respect, which promote and enhance harmonious living. Most couples have these rules which, over time, become simply habit and routine driven and very rarely do they attract any comment. We're talking about  laundry, dishwasher, toothpaste, towels, ice in the freezer sort of routine and that is all well and good. Until that is, random rules are introduced, the breach of which is usually followed with, 'I told you the other day.' The two most recent rules in my household which suddenly appeared are apparently, 'no talking during the Archers trial,' and 'don't record over Bake Off.' Seriously? Ambridge has been in a spiral of self absorbed leftie love-in since at least 1995 and as for Bake Off, well, I've never seen so much fuss about making iced buns in my life. Who is going to live long enough to waste their time watching that rubbish and all the seventies innuendo which comes with it which at worst isn't funny and at best comes nowhere close to equalling the art form perfected by the original masters. It makes me want to lob a brick through the flatscreen.

In fact Bake Off represents the race to the bottom between the BBC and ITV to find the lowest denominator of the viewing public and they've hit the target with this one. In desperation, I often take the path less travelled and occasionally discover a gem which I'm happy to share and this one is an absolute 24ct nugget.

We're talking The Reassembler,' on BBC Four. This three part series sees James May in his shed reassembling iconic bit's of kit, piece by piece. The series is genius. In fact, it is pretty much Blue Peter for big boys. So far he has done a 1959 petrol engined lawn mower and an old Bakelite GPO telephone, both classic examples of design and engineering. The programmes are utterly absorbing. Which one of us hasn't stripped down an engine or piece of machinery only to expend hours if not days being frustrated in attempting to put everything back together? I've been plagued since childhood with the age old problem of reassembling things and always finishing with two screws spare which ought not to be spare. Sometimes I don't finish at all and find myself on the Electrical And Mechanical Goods For Sale To Husbands Who Attempted Home Repairs And Completely Buggered Them Up website. The series ends on Wednesday with the assembly of an electric guitar, I can't wait. 

In the pottering-about-the-shed-talking-to-himself format May is of course filling the considerable cultural boots of Jack Hargreaves who presented 'Out of Town,' for oh, just about all my growing up years. Jack Hargreaves had a formidable knowledge of the countryside and the old pre war ways of the countryside. It was a fascinating series. 

Schoolboys doing metalwork in the 1960's, (much more interesting than maths and easily my favourite subject. I made a trowel and a screwdriver).

Schoolboys doing metalwork in the 1960's, (much more interesting than maths and easily my favourite subject. I made a trowel and a screwdriver).

The other can-do programme of the era for young boys was Blue Peter. I don't suppose they make train sets on that programme anymore or have presenters skydiving from Hercules aircraft. That's a shame and here's the rub. The luvvies at Television Centre only show what they decide is best for us which is not necessarily what we want. James May shouldn't be doing his programme on BBC 4 at nine thirty in the evening. He should be broadcast at the weekends at times when kids can watch with their Dad's and perhaps not start with the Grade Really Difficult stuff but with easier to do projects for aspirant kids fed up with toys with chips.  All kids love a challenge, all kids have a thirst for knowledge and all kids enjoy making things and the sense of purpose and achievement they bring. Come on Mr May, time to properly take over old Jack's legacy. Go and rattle some cages, (any way but the Clarkson way).