The Third Leader: Noddy's travels

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The Independent Online

It was a special day in Toytown yesterday, I gather, as news broke that Noddy and his chums would soon be on the television in Germany as well as in Britain, Japan, the United States, Scandinavia and France, where they've proved more popular among pre-school children than Asterix or Babar. Mrs Tubby Bear was beaming, the little fellow himself was ever so excited, and even Big Ears permitted himself a smile before telephoning to check on second rights.

Marvellous. And fascinating that, after imposing ourselves on the rest of the world in an unsetting way for several centuries, possibly our most persuasive and pervasive single influence should turn out to have short legs, a nervous habit and a cap with a bell.

Still, I suppose he sends a fairly benevolent message to the universal pre-school millions, now that there have been the requisite "anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-elitist makeovers" (hasta la vista, golliwogs). Nevertheless, I do worry about Noddy's over-reliance on the car, and I, for one, would have been happier if, in Noddy's Special Treat, he'd worked out rather more quickly that poor, generous, injured little Skippy Skittles was the one to take to the seaside rather than pushy Martha Monkey or selfish Mr Jumbo, as the future of international aid may depend on it. There is also the matter of Mr Plod's clear-up rate, and many, I know, would like to see some rather more imaginative rehabilitative programmes worked out for Sly and Gobbo Goblin.

And, yes, all right, he is a bit of a wimp, and those little songs, well. But I do have a suggestion: Jack Nicholson, apparently, is a fan, and that's an interpretation I'd certainly pay good money to see. Ding ding!

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