Browsing the latest Pegasus programme on the lookout for some quality puppetry to take my kids along to, it was in fact this show, promising to make politics comprehensible to seven-year-olds, that ended up grabbing my attention. As a teacher of A level Politics myself, and with a 100% unblemished track record of failure in trying to explain anything political to my six year old, I was intrigued as to how it might be done. And so, to my surprise, was Louis, who happily agreed to accompany me, despite being 4 months below the recommended minimum age. What the heck, I’m not planning to wait until he’s 15 to show him Life of Brian, so why start worrying about such details now?
The show got off to a flying start, immediately winning the kids over with some bum jokes (natch, these guys are professionals!), and the adults - or at least maths geeks like me - with a line about Prime Ministers being people who can only be divided by themselves and one. All well and good, but how to transition to an actual explanation of politics? Well, entirely seamlessly is the answer, going into a thought experiment about only having 8 sweets to share between 10 people, asking the audience to proffer solutions, and then voting on them - but not before various superb improvised responses to the various suggestions.
Throughout, the main comedic device is the classic one of interplay between straight guy and moron, with Tiernan Douieb taking on the Baldrick role admirably. Much of the humour comes from his misunderstanding of Tatton Spiller’s patient attempts to explain, and he is definitely an accomplished comedy performer. Along the way, we got impressively comprehensible explanations of the purpose of voting, how taxes and spending work, and some of the key policies of the major parties - with the grand finale being, of course, a general election, with young audience members as candidates.
Louis and I certainly enjoyed it - “it was actually pretty funny,” he told me afterwards, as if this was a remarkable anomaly for something I had suggested. But did it go in? Did he learn anything about politics? “Oh I wasn’t really listening,” he said, “I was too busy counting my money”. Which neatly sums up the attitude towards politics of pretty much every generation since Thatcher. Oh well - perhaps 7+ was accurate after all... But, that aside, this was a surprisingly effective, and highly engaging, introduction to the process of political decision making.