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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Johnny Ball 'slates' children's TV
Johnny Ball and daughter Zoe
Johnny Ball and daughter Zoe: Both presented children's TV
The BBC has rejected accusations from veteran children's TV presenter Johnny Ball, who said young people's shows are "dumbed down".

Ball, 65, famed for shows including Play School and Think of a Number, told performing arts newspaper The Stage: "There are not the same factual shows anymore - children's TV has become much more trivial."

Programmes for youngsters do not provide "enough mental stimulation", he said, criticising Blue Peter presenters for talking to each other more than the camera.

"We were always told that the first rule in children's programmes is to talk through the camera to get a connection with the viewers," he said.

"But in shows like Blue Peter, they talk to each other as though the kids are not there so it feels like you are looking in through the window at someone else's party."

None of the presenters sound like they sat GCSE English
Mary Swook, England

Ball said programmes focusing on science and technology programmes had had a fall in ratings, and would still be "popular".

"We used to get very high numbers of people watching our shows and kids' programmes don't get anywhere near those figures now. I feel it is very sad," he said.

But the BBC's controller of children's television, Dorothy Prior, said Ball was "welcome to come in to CBBC and see what we're doing and talk to me about his concerns".

She added that the Blue Peter office gets "hundreds of letters" from parents and children about how much they "love the current presenting team and their presenting style".

Johnny Ball, Carol Leader and Derek Griffiths
Johnny Ball's TV work dates back to the 1970s

CBBC "continues to offer its viewers a wide range of output across the genres, including a substantial educational content", she said, adding it was also involved in a BBC initiative to encourage young inventors.

She also said Xperimental, Eureka TV, Blue Peter and The Really Wild Show, mixed "entertainment with information and learning".

Ball's daughter Zoe Ball is also famed for her work on programmes for young people, including BBC Radio 1's breakfast show and Saturday morning children's show Live & Kicking.

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