On the box · Word of the week

Word of the week: Alphablocks

Most weekday mornings I spend a few minutes checking out Breakfast TV. I try to catch the local weather on BBC Breakfast, typically in the bulletin just before 7.30am. On ITV I mainly check in just to see who’s accompanying Susannah Reid on “Good Morning Britain”. Since Piers Morgan left the show there has been a succession of male hosts, including Robert Rinder, Ben Shephard, Richard Madeley, Martin Lewis, and even Bill Turnbull, her former colleague from the BBC.  

Usually, immediately after the 7.30am weather forecast, the BBC interviews some cabinet minister about the latest government announcement, U-turn or abuse of power, and that’s when I switch to ITV. If they’re showing something that I am equally reluctant to watch, I will flick around. I see that Channel 4 is now showing episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” until 7.35am, followed by “King of Queens”, which does not take up much of my time.  

Last week, escaping from Breakfast TV, I revisited the two children’s channels that used to occupy part of our morning many years ago: CBeebies, and “Milkshake” on Channel 5. The latter still features “Peppa Pig” and has more ad-breaks than I remember. There’s also a micro-programme (less than 5 minutes per show) based on “Baby Shark”. CBeebies has a selection of unfamiliar programmes, but I was glad to see that they are still screening our old favourite “Alphablocks”. It uses Phonics to help children learn to read, and it certainly helped our son when he was younger. We bought the books based on the series, and sets of blocks with the letters and letter-pairs that he played with long after he had learnt to read. The iPlayer has 113 available episodes and I have revisited a few of them. It’s as delightful as I remember, and I recommend it whether or not you have children who are just starting to read.  


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