As a rule, I don’t try to force my own childhood on my kids. But, thanks to the 50th anniversary revival of Thunderbirds, all three of our children are openly embracing a key part of my formative years – with, literally, no strings attached.
An unusual – make that unique – event occurred over the weekend.
I was woken up on Saturday by Isaac and Toby at 7:50am. This is itself is virtually unprecedented, as on most days I’m accustomed to being prodded awake at least two hours earlier.
Equally unusually, their first words to me weren’t related to either Minecraft or the London Underground, as has increasingly become the case over the last few months.
What was unique, however, was their earnest request to watch a TV programme with me live as it was broadcast. This never happens in our household. My kids are of that generation where the concept of ‘appointment TV’ is dying a rapid death. We watch stuff when we want on demand, not according to such 20th century concepts as a schedule.
But no. On this occasion it was, “Thunderbirds is starting in a minute. Can we all watch it together?”
How could I say no?
After the first episode of the new Thunderbirds Are Go aired last week (here’s my review), I noted that this was a rare programme that appealed to all three of our kids – if anything, our youngest, Kara, is the most obsessed of all – and how keen they were to watch it repeatedly.
Since then, they have rewatched that same episode practically every day. To my surprise, they also sat through the pilot episode of the original series with a moderate degree of interest. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t as keen on the old version – Isaac kept commenting on how slow it was by comparison – but they stuck with it and have since watched a second episode.
All three have gleefully adopted specific characters from the new show, although this changes on a daily basis. So far, Kara has been Virgil, John, Kayo and Lady Penelope (this last one has naturally resulted in me being cast in the role of her chauffeur, Parker). The boys regularly drop random lines of dialogue into conversation (even Kara has started doing this). And together they re-enact scenes in the bath before bedtime.
It’s incredibly cute, not least because they have needed no encouragement to embrace this classic slice of my childhood – they normally detect and reject anything produced before about 2005 as old and boring – and it’s another activity that we can do together that continues even after we have switched the TV off.
Maybe this will just be a passing phase. Or perhaps it’s the beginning of something longer lasting that extends its tentacles in every direction, as the boys’ love for the Underground has done.
But for now I’m loving every minute of this new obsession. It brings back fond memories of a childhood captivated by reruns of the original series, the die-cast model of Thunderbird 2 that was one of my most cherished toys and the way I used to pretend to be the various Thunderbird pilots myself. Only now we have three kids close enough in age that they can form their own little Tracy family crew and create their own adventures together. Better still.
Being dragged downstairs to sit with the kids for half an hour on a Saturday morning to watch the latest Thunderbirds Are Go is a tiny burden. In fact, who am I kidding? It’s no burden at all.
I will admit that I’m already looking into what merchandise is available for the new series. I can foresee a collection of Thunderbird vehicles and uniforms and a scale model of Tracy Island in our not-so-distant future.
Who knows? I might even let the kids play with them.