Preparation For Punk #4 – Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go And Do Something Less Boring Instead?

“Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go And Do Something Less Boring Instead”, was a UK children’s television show, which started broadcasting during the summer of 1973. It was shown in the morning slot, and only during the school holidays. The home-made intro set the tone, for this no-fuss fest of things to make and do. With a cast of child presenters, the show encouraged viewers to send in ideas of snack recipes, craft projects and games to play. These were then demonstrated in the studio – itself decked out like some sort of indoor adventure playground. Notable presenters over the years included, the very young Pauline Quirke, a teenage Andy Crane and a rosy cheeked Gideon Coe, who’s in the clip below, asking “I wonder if you know the name of your own postman?”

So, what exactly has all this got to do with Punk Rock? Unlike other programmes whose script often seemed to contain the words “tune in next week” or “stayed tuned”, “Why Don’t You?…” encouraged the viewer to do exactly the opposite. Obviously, it made for compulsive viewing. For a generation of 9 and 10 year olds, WDY? dealt a reminder that making your own entertainment was a lot more fun than sitting around waiting for it to be provided for you. It encouraged a self-reliance, inventive play, imagination, and with children as the presenters it might have even encouraged a low-level, part-of-the-gang mentality.

The producers even thought to make the show just a little bit boring, so once “car bingo” had been mentioned for the 500th time that summer, the only thing left to do was to actually switch it off, and go and do something more interesting instead. Job done. Let’s start a band.

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