In The Night Garden... - Who's Here? Review
Television has brought us many wonderful couples. Sam and Diane from Cheers. JR and Sue Ellen. Terry and June. Even Bert and Ernie. But the loveliest couple of recent years is Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle from In The Night Garden. He says nothing, merely squeaks but as they meet near sunset and walk through the garden, they look as though they couldn't bear to be apart. They clearly love one another. She's a rag doll whose hair stands up when excited, whose tutu lifts and who says, "Upsy daisy! Daisy doo!" When sad, she says, "Upsy daisy..." but she isn't sad very often, less so when Igglepiggle is by her side. He's bright blue, carries a red blanket and has a face that one might charitably describe as lopsided. But when she runs off and he looks to the camera with a grin that says, "Oh well..." and runs after her, they return to the night garden hand in hand. In love even if their goodnights to one another is his squeaking and her, "Upsy daisy!"
Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy are only two characters in this children's television show, which begins near sunset and ends by moonlight with everyone asleep and Igglepiggle sailing away on his little boat. Made for CBeebies bedtime hour, In The Night Garden is a dreamy, quiet half-hour made to calm children down by showing them so very little. Taking in a bedtime story, a dance (or two), a surreal trip through the forest and some giant and very colourful balloons floating through the trees, In The Night Garden is a near-perfect way for pre-school children to wind down for bedtime and so long as one comes to it and its gentle do-nothing, it is a treat. A sleepy, the-sun-is-settting and all-is-well-with-the-world kind of treat but a treat nonetheless.
Anne Wood, the creator of In The Night Garden and, previously, Tellytubbies, has said that the reason behind this show is calm its audience of children and to allow a half-hour when children and their parents can relax, be entertained and prepare for bed. Narrated by Derek Jacobi - this being the Jacobi of Nanny McPhee who can barely disguise his glee at the arrival of the Ninky Nonk or at Igglepiggle falling over backwards - each half-hour passes quickly by.
This last half-hour or so before bedtime is a memorable time. The theme to Tales Of The Unexpected, from its late-night slot in the seventies, says, "Go to bed!" clearer than a giant pillow coming into my living room and ordering me to get under the blankets. The lovely theme to In The Night Garden will say as much to children now, who'll associate watching Igglepiggle drift away on his little boat sleeping softly. Everyone else is tucked up in bed, Makka Pakka with his stone, the three Tombliboos in their bed, Upsy Daisy in the garden and the Haahoos slowly closing their eyes and, from being giant balloons, deflating slightly. A bedtime story has been read, the sun has set and even the lights on the bandstand have gone out. The Ninky Nonk, a kind of train, has come to a rest. The Pinky Ponk, an airship, has landed. It is time for bed.
Like everything else that has been released by the BBC's Children's department, In The Night Garden is anamorphically presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and is of a very good quality throughout. There are some obvious halos in amongst the blue/green screen, most notably on the Tittifers, which is made even more obvious with the sharpness of the transfer, something that is a cut above the average DVD. Colours stand out, the image is bright but the interlacing is obvious, particularly with the stop-motion of the Pontipines (the tiny red family) and the Wottingers (the blue) but this is the only fault on an otherwise very good DVD.
Everything about the DD2.0 audio tracks is well handled, not least that they sound clean and without any obvious problems with background noise or audio effects. Once again, the BBC are to be congratulated for included English subtitles across this set.
In The Night Garden can be a confusing affair at first - it's very surreal on a first watch and needs several viewings to fully appreciate its gentle sense of humour - and it helps that this DVD includes a Guide For Parents, which sees Anne Wood explaining the background to the show. Of more interest to children is Who's Here, which is a series of introductions to the show's characters, each one lasting a minute or thereabouts. And offers plenty more songs, including those for Upsy Daisy, Igglepiggle and Makka Pakka. And the single word that comes with the Haahoos. "HAAHOO!"
Last updated: 21/04/2018 02:26:44