Titania and Tubbies get rude awakening;The week in view

23rd April 1999 at 01:00
As chief inspector Chris Woodhead lives to fight another day and teachers gear up for industrial action, we learn of Kooky the Clown, a cure for couch potatoes, and homework excuses.

First, though, another tale from Shakespeare. A group of pupils from Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic School in Coventry walked out of a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Stratford as the production showed Titania simulating sex with Bottom, who was dressed as a donkey. The 10 and 11-year-olds had travelled to a matinee after studying extracts from the play as part of their literacy hour. Not quite what David Blunkett had in mind, perhaps.

No laughing matter, really, unlike Kooky, aka Andy Stevens from Wiltshire, who was awarded the title International Clown of the Year by the US-based World Clown Association, the first non-American to receive it. He impressed judges with his off-the-cuff humour, forged at children's parties across the West Country. "I'm chuffed to bits," he said.

Roy Strong and Stephen Bayley were less than chuffed about the planned contents of the Millennium Dome. The 600 innovative British products to go on display include the Teletubbies, the anti-impotence drug Viagra, and Divine Chocolate, produced by a London confectioners.

Dr Strong, former director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, condemned the inclusion of the Tubbies as "stupid, stupid, stupid", while Mr Bayley, who quit as the dome's creative director after clashes with former minister Peter Mandelson, called the choice "an affront to educated taste and the most profound evidence yet of dumbing down". Eh Oh.

Tele-addict couch potatoes could be cured by pedal power. A New York doctor, David Allison, devised a method of wiring up televisions to bicycles, forcing overweight children to exercise in order to watch their favourite programmes. This wheeze cut the children's weekly viewing time from 20 hours to one, and consumed 2 per cent of body fat.

Not a good week for teenagers: an MP wants to stop them piercing their bodies in the new "perversion chic" craze; a research study shows that under-20s who smoke risk irreversible genetic damage that could cause lung cancer, even if they stop; and measles and mumps increase the chances of developing inflammatory bowel diseases by the time the young people reach the age of 30.

After all that doom and gloom, it's cheerful to note that kids are using the same old excuses to get out of doing their homework: lost books, relatives with various illnesses, and lack of time were favourites. But The Sun would be proud of "The pet ate my coursework".

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