Review - Nothing but hocus pocus

20th January 2012 at 00:00

God, i feel old. I simply cannot find a way to review Help! My Supply Teacher is Magic that does not make me sound like an aged curmudgeon.

To be fair, I am not among the target demographic for this CBBC programme. Still, is this really what the young people are watching today? The premise is a charming one: magicians are sent into primary schools to work as supply teachers for unsuspecting pupils.

So we see magician Katherine teaching a Year 5 science lesson on gravity. First she makes a pencil float. Then she makes the teaching assistant float. Fergus is also teaching a science class. He places a "microfibre" (a torn scrap of paper) into a jar with an egg, shakes the jar around and the egg vanishes.

This is all lovely. But having come up with a genuinely original idea, the programme-makers do their best to ignore it. The supply-teaching sections comprise a quarter of the programme. Half involves magic tricks in other unlikely locations. Then viewers are taught the secret of a trick that is actually just a logic puzzle. And at least a quarter of the programme is spent telling us what is going to happen in the other three-quarters. Are prepubescent attention spans really so short? If so, surely programmes like this bear some of the responsibility.

Help! My Supply Teacher is Magic appeared on CBBC on 17 January. Available on BBC iPlayer.

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