Gogglesprogs review – magical driftwood for a gloomy Britain

The pint-sized poppets have returned to our screens, dispensing their opinions about the week’s TV shows – and gladdening hearts nationwide

Cometh the hour, cometh the spin-off. As the darkness closes in, one light burns steady. It is the television screen, broadcasting Gogglesprogs (Channel 4) to an increasingly desperate and bewildered nation, who cling to it as drowning men do to driftwood.

There is no gloom, it turns out, that hearing children’s untrammelled thoughts on Simply Nigella cannot disperse. As the comely chef plates up her customary portion of breathy sighs of satisfaction and suggestive smiles, a high, nine-year-old voice cuts cleanly through the thickening air. “Why is she so happy? No one’s happy to cook.”

Nigella makes avocado on toast. The questions come thick and fast.

“Who does that?”

“What’s wrong with ’er?”

“How is this a cooking programme? She’s not even cooking.”

Nigella takes her first bite. “She sounds,” says one girl, a smidgen older than the others, “like she’s scratching a really nice itch.”

Leery, perhaps, of too much insight, the programme-makers switch them to Mary Poppins. This proves divisive in one household in Neath, south Wales, where 10-year-old Ashton, his sister Darcie and their cousin Cari are watching. “Unrealistic!” shouts Darcie. “Stupid,” agrees Cari. “It’s supposed to be,” Ashton explains, his entire being visibly suffused with delight, “magical.”

Questions again abound. The sincerely uttered “Do you think she was on drugs when she made this?” was my favourite. For what it’s worth, kid, yes, I think you’d have to be.

Emma (left) and Brooke (right).
‘Very beautiful, isn’t she?’ … Emma (left) and Brooke of Gogglesprogs weigh in on Simply Nigella. Photograph: Greg Macvean/Channel 4

Most of the children align with Darcie and Cari in resisting the spell. “A spoonful? That’s a LOT of sugar.” “In reality, she would charge a lot of money.” Ashton, don’t listen. Brooke, at least, is with you. Well, she’s in Scotland with her sister Emma, but she’s with you in spirit. “Very beautiful, isn’t she, Emma?” she says, sighing with satisfaction. Emma nods, polite but unconvinced.

Jacob and Connor from Yorkshire are the Statler and Waldorf of the sofa. They watch a couple of the Made in Chelsea men sit with fishing rods by a lake, talking about women. “Do you think,” says Statler edgily, “they should be concentrating more on the fish?”

Boys, you are my driftwood. But Ashton – may you never lose the magic.


Lucy Mangan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Gogglesprogs review – these kids are funny, fearless, wise and honest
The young critics on the kids’ version of Gogglebox weigh in on everything from Donald Trump to the Undateables. I’d love to hear their thoughts on the EU referendum

Sam Wollaston

18, Jun, 2016 @5:30 AM

Article image
Gogglesprogs review – after much debate, Aquaman is the people's choice for PM
The Googlebox progenies mull over Tony Bennett lyrics, Grease’s gender politics and nuclear defence policy – but Blair didn’t die on the toilet, did he?

Sam Wollaston

10, Jun, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Nigella? Boo! Baby giraffes? Yay! … meet the Gogglesprogs, TV's sharpest critics
The show that lets kids sound off about telly is back. Here, the young critics give their verdict on everything from eating giant spiders to Donald Trump’s wrestling

Stuart Jeffries

14, Jun, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
Friday’s best TV: Gogglebox, Shetland, QI and Daft Punk Unchained
The meta-TV show returns; there’s a death and rape on the island; Stephen Fry delivers his last intelligence test. Plus: the French disco duo’s rise charted, with star guests Kanye and Pharrell

Mark Gibbings-Jones, John Robinson, Jack Seale, Gwilym Mumford, David Stubbs, Ben Arnold, Jonathan Wright, Paul Howlett

19, Feb, 2016 @6:20 AM

Article image
Britain By Bike With Larry & George Lamb review – two go mild in the country
Despite Lamb Sr having an electric bike to help climb the hills of the Yorkshire Dales, this is an underpowered example of the minor-celebs-on-tour genre

Sam Wollaston

30, Sep, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
Barging Round Britain With John Sergeant review – how does your hat blow off at 2mph?
The former political correspondent KOs a boxing champ while pootling through mills, locks and a Refreshers factory

Sam Wollaston

23, Apr, 2016 @5:20 AM

Article image
The Underground Railroad review – harrowing, magical, masterful TV
Barry Jenkins’ extraordinary adaptation of the Colson Whitehead novel about escaping the clutches of slavery is hallucinatory and heartbreaking. Just don’t binge-watch it

Lucy Mangan

14, May, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Unreported World: Obesity in Paradise review – fighting fat on Samoa
Having rejected local food in favour of processed western junk, nine out of 10 people on Samoa are overweight. Sophie Morgan uncovers a quiet epidemic

Sam Wollaston

29, Apr, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
The Secret review – Infidelity? It's what God would have wanted
James Nesbitt leads a gripping true-crime drama where churchgoers are driven to wickedness by misplaced affections

Sam Wollaston

30, Apr, 2016 @6:00 AM

Article image
Alias Grace review – a blessed adaptation of Margaret Atwood's extraordinary novel
This cerebral true-crime miniseries, brilliantly adapted by Sarah Polley, is just as well done – and just as suited to our times – as The Handmaid’s Tale

Lucy Mangan

04, Nov, 2017 @6:30 AM