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Planet Child

Planet Child

Mon, April 29th, 2019

Wednesday 9pm – 10pm, ITV

ITV presents a brand new three-part series that puts together a bold series of experiments to examine the different ways children in the UK and the rest of the world experience the world we live in today. The experiments explore key areas such as gender awareness, morality, independence and risk-taking and the programme seeks to further our understanding of how a child’s development has changed over the years. The children range between four and seven years old and each individual’s reactions are different to the challenges they are given, demonstrating and eye-opening difference to behaviours, attitudes and just what children are capable of when they aren’t suppressed by natural parental care.

The documentary focuses heavily on the different cultures across the world and the different experiences those children experience and are exposed to, particularly demonstrating the vast impact the Western 21st century technologically driven ‘Nanny-state’ has had on perceptions of child care. The programme states it quite clearly – today’s children are in danger from a lack of danger; we are told nearly three quarters of children spend less time outside than prisoners and some 99% of parents would not allow a child under the age of seven to ride on public transport alone. This is where the experiments come into their own.

The first episode sees twin doctors, Xand and Chris van Tulleken inspired by the independence and trust given to children in other countries across the world. Uuakhiuke, only seven-years-old, from the Himba tribe in Namibia is regularly tasked to collect firewood with a machete for his family, and six-year-old Michi from Tokyo commutes across the city alone to get to school. The Japanese philosophy by Michi’s parents would shock parents in the UK, his mother states “Let your beloved child go on a journey. To go out on your own is the first step to independence”. The duo of doctors test a group of 4-7 year olds to cross London without their parents, using public transport only to take a trip to the London Eye.

Five year old Rita and Keiran live in Yorkshire Dales and have never experienced life outside of the county. Seven year old Leo and his sisters Abi, five, and Harleigh, four, from Margate have never been more than a metre from their mum, Claire. Seven year old twin brothers Darcee and Judah from Sussex force their mother into anxiety as she has strong boundaries. These children are left to their own devices to go on public buses across the nation’s capital for a ride on the London Eye. Apart from a couple of strategically placed chaperones and camera crew discreetly watching their are totally on their own. Chris and Xand meet the children and set them on their task, leaving a park via the souvenir shop and then finding the right bus stop.

Will the children hold their nerve? Will they find their way? And most of all, will they prove their parents wrong?


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