Warwick Dyer virtually created
the modern concept of "Parent TV"
Everywhere you look parents are unable to cope with their children. From a mother slapping a whining toddler in a supermarket queue to the get-dressed now, temple-throbbing row every school morning in my house. Who among us feels we are a good parent? Or even a adequate one?
Bad parenting is as obvious as a disastrous outfit, more repellent than a dirty kitchen, with direr consequences than overspending on your credit cards. So while TV lifestyle sows seek to improve how we dress, clean and decorate our homes or run our finances, why is no programme dedicated to helping us raise happier children?
The answer of TV bosses until recently would have been:
"Because who the hell would watch it?"
However, the notion that children are a television turn-off is about to change. Currently in production are two new series due to hit our screens next year, all of which marks the beginning of a brand new makeover genre - Parent TV.
So why has parenting become such a hot TV subject?
Perhaps the astonishing ratings achieved by channel 4's Cutting Edge documentary Bad Behaviour may help explain TV's Sudden enthusiasm.
The programme, shown in July, had 4.3 million viewers, comparing favourably with lifestyle shows such as Changing Rooms (5 million), Ground Force (4.5 million) and What Not to Wear (3.4 Million).
What made this programme so gripping was the way it followed the exact makeover format: as seemingly hopeless case, a charismatic and commanding expert - Warwick Dyer - and a miraculous transformation.
The hopeless case in question was a couple called Diane and Fred, so despairing of their daughter Georgina's tantrums that they had asked social services to take her into care. Enter behavioural expert Warwick Dyer. ....Georgina was transformed. The message - that it is possible to change your life for the better simply by breaking a malign pattern of behaviour - made for optimistic, even moving, TV.
Now Bad Behaviour's unexpected success has helped give a green light to a whole raft of parenting shows. Hilary Clarke, its director, has been asked by C4 to create more documentaries featuring Warwick Dyer's methods.
by Janice Turner - Radio Times