Of course kids should watch Watership Down

Guy Birchall

Topics Politics

I hope you all had an enjoyable, relaxing Easter. Sadly, it seems that some parents, who allowed their children to tune in to Channel 5 on Easter Sunday to watch Watership Down, had a terrible time.

For those who don’t know, Watership Down is an animated feature depicting rabbits having a not terribly nice time as they search for a new home, get into fights, gasp for air and suffer the scourge of myxomatosis. As kids’ films go, it’s a bit of tearjerker. But some parents were so mortified by their offsprings’ exposure to this 1978 kids’ classic that they complained to Ofcom. ‘Well done to whoever at Channel 5 decided that Watership Down was a nice Easter Sunday afternoon film to show’, tweeted one outraged parent. All of which prompted David Austin, the head of British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), to say that had the movie been released today it would have been given a ‘PG’ certificate rather than the ‘U’ it originally received.

This leaves me with one message to pass on to these parents and the BBFC. Grow the bunny hell up! It’s a cartoon about rabbits based on a children’s book. If that’s not suitable for kids, I don’t know what is. In both Bambi and Finding Nemo, the titular characters’ mothers barely make it through the first 10 minutes. Is that too much for these mollycoddling morons’ nippers as well? Tragedy can play a part in any good story. Besides, you can’t shelter kids from the fact that bad things can and do happen.

Of course Watership Down is appropriate for children. But if some parents disagree, they should get off their arses, do some parenting and pay attention to what their children are watching. They shouldn’t complain to a broadcaster. And the BBFC shouldn’t pretend that films made today are less distressing than those made in the past. If anything, the opposite is the case. The Exorcist, which was X-rated on release, would probably only be a ’15’ now.

So, parents, chill out. If the worst things your kids see and hear are fighting bunnies, and Art Garfunkel crooning ‘Bright Eyes’, you should count yourselves very lucky.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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Topics Politics


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