Inclusion may be something of a trendy buzz word, but as a man who has spent several years as the man in carer for his kids, it definitely has its place. There have been moments as a parent I have felt like the odd one out or unwelcome, the only dad in a room full of mums. The Baby Club is a new TV series that’s about to launch on the BBC’s pre-school channel CBeebies and inclusion is very much a big part of the show. I caught up with legendary presenter Nigel Clarke to find out more about the series.
When I was told about The Baby Club, I was informed that stay at home dads (SAHDs) were one of the groups the show was aimed at. In truth, the show is designed to appeal to many different groups, but when I watched a preview, I instantly saw its appeal to SAHDs, plus stay at home mums and others who maybe don’t get out as often as they’d like for a variety of reasons.
The programme has a very simple format, although it’s one I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s aimed at parents and carers of babies aged 18 months and younger and it basically brings a baby and toddler group into your living room.
At this point I’ll let Nigel explain the series in his own words: “The Baby Club is great. It’s interactive and features around six children and their mum, dad or carer.
“Everything happens that you might see at a baby and toddler group. The children all say hello to each other and we sing a song and tell a story. In the corner you might see a baby sleeping, or a child might need a feed in the middle of it, you just can’t tell what’s going to happen. That’s the beauty of working with children in this way, it’s pretty much like live TV!”
The series starts on 4 March on CBeebies and 20, 15-minute shows have been recorded to date. Nigel is a presenter with a long track record in children’s TV and has worked on shows and TV specials including: Skillicious for ITV, The Good Dinosaur Access All Areas for the Disney Channel and Ben 10 Challenge on the Cartoon Network.
He is joined on The Baby Club by Giovanna Fletcher, who is probably best known for her Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast and book. I asked Nigel what it was like working with Giovanna.
“It was great, she’s a lovely, lovely person. Although you won’t see that much of us on screen together. It mostly worked that Giovanna presented an episode, then I presented an episode. Who knows, maybe in future series we could do more together on screen.”
Nigel and I go on to discuss the inclusivity of the programme. The preview I saw included a dad or two (not to mention Giovanna Fletcher singing and it turns out she has an amazing voice). While baby and toddler groups should be inclusive of dads or carers, if a guy really wasn’t comfortable at his local group, The Baby Club would offer him a chance to have that experience at home.
Nigel went on to say the show would also appeal to those in rural areas where they may not be any baby and toddler groups.
“It may also appeal to women who have just had a baby and really don’t want to go out or anyone who has to balance looking after a baby with a slightly older child,” Nigel adds.
He went on to explain the show was produced with input from a learning and parent support charity called Peeple. In addition to input from the Foundations Years Trust, the aim was to ensure The Baby Club promotes development and benefits parents, carers and the children.
With our time together coming to an end, I asked Nigel, a dad of nine and eleven-year-old if he had a message out there for dads.
“Oh yeah, this generation of dads is much more involved with their kids than previous generations. That certainly seems to be the way things have gone which is great. My message would be to get as involved as you can with your kids and enjoy The Baby Club.”
It was great speaking to Nigel. His enthusiasm for The Baby Club was clear.
It also turns out that Nigel writes a blog. As The Baby Club airs, the parents and children will undertake various fun activities. Nigel is going to recreate these activities on his blog so anyone can have a go.
If you do have a baby or infant aged 18 months or younger, you may enjoy The Baby Club. If I still had kids of that age, I’d certainly have watched a few episodes with them. Alas, my kids are a bit old and Nigel and I did spend a few minutes reminiscing on what it was like when our kids were tots. That, however, is a story for another day.
The first episode of The Baby Club airs on Cbeebies on Monday, 4 March. Check schedules beforehand to confirm broadcast time.