I don't ask for much in life, just a Little Weed

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How swiftly expectations can be raised, and how cruelly they can be dashed. Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men, are due to return. Hooray. But now the bad news. Not in their original form. Oh no. They are to be given a "21st-century makeover". Hiss, boo, bum.

How swiftly expectations can be raised, and how cruelly they can be dashed. Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men, are due to return. Hooray. But now the bad news. Not in their original form. Oh no. They are to be given a "21st-century makeover". Hiss, boo, bum.

What's wrong with the BBC? You don't meddle with classics. You don't release a 21st-century version of the Mona Lisa, the enigmatic smile replaced with a pout and a cigarette. We don't want an updated Last Supper featuring six blokes and six women clutching cokes and burgers at a drive-thru. It's great stuff. It's fine as it is. Leave it alone.

Bill and Ben were, of course, the stars of that delightfully sexist strand, Watch with Mother, which was a filthy lie, certainly in my house. A more accurate title might have been Plonk Your Kids in Front of the Telly for 15 Minutes While Smoking a Fag and Having a Breakdown. Other highlights of the series included, Rag, Tag and Bobtail, which sounds like cheap porn but wasn't; the somewhat androgynous Andy Pandy (naughty Teddy!) and the definitely subversive Picture Book? Subversive? you say, How come? Try this.

There are three of us, not watching with mother, aged nine, eight, and seven. Our hostess opens the picture book. "Today we're in a farmyard," she informs us. "And what can we see in the farmyard?" she continues. "A cock," she confirms, as we fall to the floor, helpless with immature laughter. "A big red cock," she adds. Are you telling me the Picture Book writers didn't know what they were doing? Come off it. Get a grip.

Conspiracy theorists, and I am one of them, would have you believe that Bill and Ben are responsible for the hippie culture that emerged some 15 years later. You can't have innocent young minds watching people calling themselves Flowerpot Men and not have a knock-on - Flower Power and "got any pot, man?".

You can't have a voice subliminally intoning, "Weed Weed," for the better part of 15 minutes without something strange taking place. And how about "Flobbadoba-slobbalob"? I remember that point being expressed many times in darkened, smoke-filled rooms as we skinned up another and blissed out to Donovan.

Of course, I come from a happier, more innocent time. In my day, we kids weren't afraid of long, difficult words like "children's" and "television." We weren't dumbed-down to "CBBC". Or, get this, "CITV". Our presenters spoke in beautifully modulated English, not in some grating, estuarine noise from the east of Essex. Boy bands were thugs who beat you up in playgrounds. Skateboard was something you said when fed-up with fish. Thunderbirds were Go. Oh God they're Back Again.

They are, and they've had their strings digitally removed, which I consider to be butchery. Being able to spot the strings was the best bit. The older you get, the worse things become. Bill and Ben, for example, are to be given three new friends: a hedgehog, a worm and a tortoise. When I was a kid, we didn't require the inclusion of a worm to make our lives more fulfilling.

Nor did Little Weed wear sunglasses, as she will be doing, apparently. Little Weed is meant to be, forgive me if I'm wrong, a weed, and not a large one. I'm no expert on horticultural matters, but when my mother went out in the garden with a trowel and something to kneel on, she didn't return an hour later with a handful of roots and half-a-dozen Ray Bans.

"Tread softly for you tread on my dreams," wrote W B Yeats. "Tread softly for you tread on my childhood," says me. I don't ask for much in life. Just leave well enough alone, make destroying the Blue Peter garden a hanging offence, and bring back the Lone Ranger. With Tonto, not a worm.

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