Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

My number 1 star // Introducing kids to motorsports with Roary the Racing Car

Published by Christine

Just recently, the pair of us have been feeling under the weather and watching more TV than we usually would. This happily coincided with the debut of Roary the Racing Car in the iTunes Store. A couple of downloads later and we were ready to indulge in some mindless, colourful, children's fare.

Roary the Racing Car

Personally, I really liked the episodes, and we managed to watch all of the available output from Apple in one sitting. It's bright and lively, with larger than life characters, and plenty of giggles to attract children to the world of racing. It's obvious that kids will begin to pick up information about motorsports that they might never have known otherwise. The merchandising and toys bring the characters and cars right into their homes, and I imagine there are lots of pretend races going on as each episode is played out.

However, the pedigree behind Roary the Racing Car means that there are a lot of subtleties that the, eh-hem, older viewers can get a lot from as well.

Keith Chapman is the brains behind the outfit, drawing on his experience from Bob the Builder, and he teamed up with David Jenkins, who worked in management at Brands Hatch for a good few years. The latter had spent much of his young child's early years telling engaging stories about racing cars, to try and explain what was happening "where Daddy worked". For Chapman and his new entertainment company, it seemed like a natural progression from the world of building materials to the world of circuits.

The show was first aired in 2005, and the target demographic is two to six year olds. This seems about right, because when I posted a Twitter message about our viewing choice for the evening, I had a lot of messages saying: "My young son loves that show!" A new generation of motorsport fans are being cultivated, even if they don't know it yet.

As I mentioned, some of the names and characters within the show are a wink and a nudge for current fans, and perhaps a helping hand for kids to make the transition easier. The voiceover at the beginning and end of each episode is Sir Stirling Moss in the UK. The circuit is called Silver Hatch - a mashup of Silverstone and Brands Hatch. The owner of the track is a flamboyant, grey-haired Italian. Another mole-shaped animal character is called Molecom, perhaps named after the Goodwood corner - Molecombe?

My particular favourite in the show is Marsha the Marshal. Firstly, she and Big Chris single-handedly run the day to day goings on at the track, and in fact, Marsha is usually the one that gets things done, reinforcing that marshals are pretty important. Secondly, she is the main female character in the show (well, the one who's not a car, anyway), and she's not afraid to put the hours in, get muddy, or run around the track. More females in motorsport, please.

Each episode has a moral, as most good children's shows should, and that may not translate particularly well with how the Formula 1 world is behaving at the moment. However, we've started to see Big Chris and others appearing at various motorsport events, so it won't be long before we're faced with a whole new generation of racing drivers, and keen fans, ready to prove they've got what it takes.