Review - A glimpse cannot give a full picture

1st March 2013 at 00:00

Ah, to be 12. "My first thing would be to be an actress," Het says. "Then slowly move my way on to my singing career. And then have my own fashion label. And doing movies as well."

"Doctorate, psychology, forensic science, singing," Rihanna says. "Whatever."

Het and Rihanna are two of the 25 children who have been followed by television cameras since their births in 2000. Twelve years later, their nascent ambitions have been captured in the latest instalment of Child of our Time, on BBC One.

Helena wants to be a journalist. But: "I don't want to be one of those annoying ones, waiting outside No 10 for ages." Pause. "No offence to people who actually do that."

Few of the children, however, appear to link their grand designs to anything they are doing in their day-to-day lives. "School's crap," Rihanna says. "They have all these really great ideas about what kids enjoy, and a lot of the time the kids don't want to do those 'fun' theme days, because they're no fun."

Still, Rihanna's no-fun days sound significantly more fun than Taliesin's school experience. Bullied from the age of 4, he kept the problem a secret for five years. "The bullying was bad," he says now. "But it wasn't bad in the sense of it ruined my life."

His story is counterpointed with some older footage of his mother, pushing baby Taliesin through woodland and talking in vague terms about the way her father bullied her.

This is the problem with Child of our Time. There are too many stories, spanning too many years. Taliesin's family history could surely fill a one-hour programme on its own. So, too, could would-be journalist Helena's story: born three and a half months prematurely, she was the only survivor of triplets.

Equally promising is the story of Parys and his mother, artist Alison Lapper. Lapper and Parys go everywhere together. "He is my world," she says. "He's so important to me."

When Lapper's statue was placed on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, both her and her son's lives changed. "When we went to Korea, for some reason we were really big over there, so everywhere we went, we felt like Tom Cruise," Parys says. Note that "we". Parys and his mother are in for a whole heap of trouble in his teenage years.

But, no. We are back to Rihanna. Then Het. And on to Matthew, and twins Ivo and Alex. Adolescence, says presenter Professor Robert Winston, is all about "the lost moments of childhood". Sometimes it feels as though the programme is, too.

Child of our Time, BBC One, 27 and 28 February at 9pm.

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