Kids TV characters taught me how to stick it to the man

Joe Goodman
Joe Goodman  /  2 Comments

When most people talk about who inspired their counter-culture politics, a tired string of names crops up again and again - Che Guevara, Aneurin Bevan, Trotsky, Russell Brand.

How quaint. As a seven year old glued to CBBC, I was already miles ahead of the curve.

Here are the colourful, predominantly animated heroes of our prepubescent years who showed me that neoliberalism is a rotting corpse at the heart of our society:

Tinky Winky

There comes a time in every child’s life when you realise you’re probably too old to be watching Teletubbies. For me that moment came around the same time I started to speculate about Tinky Winky’s sexuality. Rumour had it he was ‘the gay one’ because he carried a handbag and, according to some, his triangular headpiece was a gay pride reference.

Part of me wants to salute Tinky for being a non-het playground icon, but the other part of me just spat out my tea at the idea that a giant purple baby with a television for an abdomen could be attracted to anything other than tubby custard.


Kim Possible

Sick and tired of being told what she can and can’t do, this badass grabbed the bull by its horns and didn’t let go.

“Kim, stop being so bossy”, “Kim, no need to get so angry”, “Kim, why can’t you just leave this mega-villain syndicate alone and be a nice girl?”. The patriarchy kicked and Kim kicked back.

Impossible you say? Nothing’s impossible; it’s Kimpossible.


Tracy Beaker

Tracy Beaker is the asphyxiated anarchist in this tale of class-conflict and incarceration. The institution in which she resides represents the confines of western democracy; the benevolence of her carers, the deceit of the state.

Tracy doesn’t take shit from anyone though, not from her ‘social worker’ (read: ‘thought police’) nor from her brainwashed comrades.

Her confrontations with Elaine the Pain taught me its OK to be angry, and her fantasies of a superstar mother the importance of holding onto your dreams. Plus Ben threw a mean rave.

Postman Pat

With all the appeal of the big city and that soulless internship at Goldman knocking, take one last look at the simple idyll of Glendale. The community spirit harboured in this sleepy village is nothing short of inspirational. No salary can replicate the affection of Ted Glen that time Pat’s van broke down; no number of Givenchy suits the companionship of that black-and-white cat Jess.

Gosh, if people were as kind to each other in real-life as they are in Glendale, I honestly don’t think sadness would exist – even if the local postman’s incompetence means your mum’s birthday card has gone missing four years in a row now.



Who would have guessed a TV series about a family of aphasiac plasticine penguins could so eloquently broach the subject of anomie in 21st century western democracy. TV history was made in the episode where Pingu gets drunk on alcopops and then wees in Pinga’s potty, and who could forget the time his Dad helped him build a step so he could reach the toilet instead of wetting himself perpetually?

I never figured out why there were so many plots about urinating yourself, but it must have got to me on some level because I’m the only one of my friends who has ever taken a dump in a public bin and maintains there is nothing wrong with that.


Dora the Explorer

This badass pint-sized Captain Cook proved that with a bit of Spanish and a magic rucksack, a girl can do just about anything in this world.

I put this theory to the test when I spent a couple of months backpacking around South America this summer. “Hablas Espanol?” “Como te llamas?” “Donde pais?” Thanks to Dora I had the good sense to know the answer to all these questions was a firm “No thank you sir”, followed by your sassiest hair flick and an “Au revoir”.


Basil Brush

The Jeremy Clarkson of CBBC, Basil Brush taught me if it’s a career in telly you’re after, all you need is an awful lot of privilege and an awful sense of humour. HA HA HA! BOOM! BOOM!

  • Stepford TAB

    Can yu nt?


    why am i still her?

  • This makes no sense.

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