Smallest likes television. She likes to watch the same things over. And over. And over again.
This gets a bit monotonous. So when I was sent details of a new series of Igam Ogam starting 17th September on Channel 5 (6.10 am. You might want to record it.) I was interested.
The previous series is still available to watch on demand. So we did. (Over and over and over again.) I’m not entirely sure that I like the program tbh, but Smallest does. I think she sees rather a lot of herself in it. We can work on her understanding of it, but Tigerboy just mimics the worst bits. So thanks for the raspberries Igam Ogam. :/
I did a Q&A with Robin Lyons, executive producer of Igam Ogam to find out a bit more about it all.
1) What made you choose a female lead character? She isn’t at all the stereotypical little girl but is reminiscent of other fictional characters such as Lola – is this intentional?
We like strong characters whose behaviour our audience will recognise. I’m not a fan of pre-school shows where everyone is always positive and nice to everyone else. Nor of conventional role playing. Pretty ballerinas in pink and impulsive hot-headed boys are boring. We wanted a toddler who behaved like a toddler, who is selfish and wilful but, at the same time, totally innocent. Someone with energy and emotion who wants to get the most out of life. We never thought for a minute about a boy. It may be because I’m male but girls seem to have more fun.
2) I’ve noticed frequent uses of the word naughty in the series which is something I’ve always tried to avoid as a parent. Is this something that is considered?
It’s very fashionable nowadays in our business to bring in consultants and child psychologists to influence and vet your ideas. We have, in the past, done considerable research into child development. This series was sparked off my some research into the first few hundred words that children learn, which are the same in any language and include the word “dinosaur”. We do not, however, use consultants to tell us what is good for children. We just use our common sense. We want our shows to last longer than the current parenting fad. Children understand what the word naughty means. It’s important to us that children watching do not think that everything Igam Ogam does is acceptable. When her behaviour is beyond the pale she gets a telling off. Isn’t that what should happen?
[Jax insert. I'm not disagreeing with the telling off. What I don't like is labelling the child rather than the behaviour. But I daresay my experience is just a fad.]
3) The fact that the parent role is filled by a male character is also interesting – was this specifically chosen?
This is a fantasy prehistoric world and yet the roles should be really clear and recognisable. Igam Ogam has an elder sibling, Birdie ( a pterodactyl), a playmate, Roly (a monkey), a pet, Doggie ( a little dinosaur), a comfort blanket, Triple Tog (a sabre tooth tiger duvet) and a parent, Big Daddy ( Tyrannosaurus Rex). We wanted a large, powerful parent because you have to be strong willed to have any control over Igam Ogam and once we decided on a Tyrannosaurus Rex we instinctively cast a male actor. Perhaps we’re being conventional. A Tyrannosaurus Regina probably deserves a show of her own.
[This is problematic in so many ways. So a woman can't be strong willed enough to manage a toddler? Tyrannosaurus Rex were all male?]
4) are there any tie ins in the form of toys or books?
We have printed a couple of simple board books and there is a DVD available on our eBay shop. We’re currently working on some Igam Ogam apps. We have a licensing agent who is currently lining up other licensing and merchandising but you probably won’t see any toys, clothes, etc until next year.
5) What’s your favourite part of the series? (I love the sun on a stick.)
From a visual point of view I love the way that lighting is incorporated into the sets and props. The development of LCD lights so small that they can be hidden means that we have sparkling crystals and can do episodes where shooting stars can hurtle into the ground and pulsate with light. My favourite moment in all the 52 episodes we have done so far, though, is when Igam Ogam persuades Doggy to lick the camera lens, leaving a blurred, slobbery mess across the screen.
[Breaking the 4th wall. Nice.]
6) How do you come up with the plot points of the episodes, and the resolutions for them?
The plots are all based around little phrases and words that toddlers might say. We get Igam Ogam to use the phrases in as many different ways as possible. Sometimes this is fairly straightforward. If an episode is called “Boo!” then you know that the story is going to be about trying to creep up on your friends and startle them. In “Not Mine” she gets given a pink scarf as a present by Birdie and tries to fob it off on the other characters one by one. The resolutions are usually very simple. In Boo! Igam Ogam’s friends creep up and startle her and she realises it isn’t always a pleasant game. In Not Mine she manages to use the scarf as a bandage for Birdie when she hurts herself by accident. It was easy to come up with little phrases at the beginning of the series but it is increasingly difficult as the series goes on. My daughter is grown up and is no longer a source of ideas for pre-school. I travel to work on the bus and advise our writers to do the same. There you hear all sorts of different speech rhythms and turns of phrase. After seeing a little boy on the bus obsessed with pressing the button to tell the driver to pull in at the next stop, we wrote an episode called Press The Button.
7. Do Boys Watch Igam Ogam?
We don’t have any figures but we get a lot of mail from mums who say that their boys love Igam Ogam. It’s quite rare to have a girl-led show that appeals to boys but Igam Ogam is certainly that.
So there you go.
A preschool TV series that *isn’t* about a boy. Where a little girl acts badly and gets told off for it. What do you reckon – will you be inviting Igam Ogam into your living room?
Disclosure – there’s nothing to disclose. No payment, no nothing. There you go.