DUNCAN BARKES How would the cartoon stars of our youth fare?

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I have recently been introducing my daughter to the joys of the children’s television programmes I grew up with.

Thanks to many of them being available on DVD and via various TV channels, she has had a crash course on kids’ telly of the 70s and 80s.

However, given the increasingly sensitive and restrictive climate we inhabit these days, I wonder whether many of the characters of yesteryear would actually see the light of the day in the 21st century.

Take The Wombles: if they wanted to set about clearing up Wimbledon Common in 2011 then Uncle Bulgaria would have to make sure they had the right permits and, more importantly, proper insurance in case one of them stood on a used needle.

Then there is Scooby Doo. Shaggy and Scooby clearly have massive food issues, being either candidates for gastric banding or possibly having bulimic tendencies.

And in 2011 a kid-friendly character going by the name of Shaggy would be renamed faster than dear old Scooby in pursuit of a hot dog.

I would not rate Captain Caveman’s chances today. If anyone was ripe for an ASBO and dose of Ritalin, then the Captain would be a dead cert.

Mr Benn would struggle to explain his visits to a fancy dress shop, where ‘trips’ to faraway lands were the result of nipping into the back room.

Tell that tale in the pub and they will be on the blower to the drugs squad, Benny boy.

As London’s most famous immigrant, Paddington Bear would no doubt be the subject of a Radio 4 series on Peruvian poverty, while having his marmalade sandwiches confiscated by the local health authority as part of their latest anti-obesity programme.

Danger Mouse would see his success as a secret agent severely curtailed by dint of the fact that every time he left his secret London base in his sports car, he’d be hammered by the congestion charge.

Dick Dastardly would be in the sights of the RSPCA over his treatment of Mutley, while Ivor the Engine would never make it out of his shed because of too many of the wrong sort of leaves on the line.

The children’s TV characters of my childhood might have endured, but if they were starting out today they wouldn’t last five minutes.

* Vintage tinge aided festive celebrations

The Barkes family spent part of Sunday last week at Russell’s Garden Centre in Birdham, where they staged a splendid vintage weekend by way of celebrating their 65th birthday.

Run by Lesley and Richard Phillips and their terrific team, Russell’s does a phenomenal amount for charity and their birthday weekend was no exception, with continued fundraising for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust.

Fantastic vintage decoration and costumes, free entertainment and a lovely festive feel – in these difficult times it is heart-warming to see an independent business pulling out all the stops to support both their community and a local charity. Well done, chaps.

Here’s to the next 65 years...

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