The Incident with the Monkey Kittens, or how I came to be a Ben and Holly addict

This is a guest post I recently wrote for Betty’s blog Watch with Mother. [Note July 2023: Betty’s blog is no longer active but I have kept this reference and the original introduction to set the context for the post.]

Watch with Mother is a blog about watching children’s TV. Because we have to, right? We can’t let the little people have all the fun watch TV without competent adult supervision. Who knows what they might see that will damage their growing minds.

Betty’s always looking for guest posts from people who watch children’s TV – so if that sounds like you, go on over to her blog and send in your reviews!

I found Betty’s blog after Googling the term “monkey kittens”. If you’re familiar with Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, you might have heard this term and if so, you’ll know why I was looking for it. If not, then you should try and remember this term, because it’s Very Important.

The Incident with the Monkey Kittens, or how I came to be a Ben and Holly addict

Juniordwarf (age 7) is a huge fan of Ben and Holly. I always thought it was a show designed for younger children, but he’s had a habit of getting into shows when he’s been several years older than the target audience.

Case in point: In the Night Garden.

This show is designed for babies and toddlers. And people on drugs.

He started watching it at about age 5. I entirely blame Slabs for this. It was school holidays. I was at work. Juniordwarf was watching a DVD. Slabs was out of the room.

The DVD ended, Juniordwarf stopped it, and what just happened to be on TV at the time was ITNG. He was instantly transfixed, and from that week on, it was essential Friday viewing. Slabs was horrified at what he’d unleashed by not having been in the room at the critical moment.

Seriously. What are these things? Nonky Nonk. Pinky Ponk (I suspect this is code for Rosé wine – Pinky Plonk). Pontipines. Makka Pakka. Tombliboos. And why the hell isn’t Iggle Piggle in bed?

Fortunately, Juniordwarf didn’t realise that the show was actually on every day at the same time, not just Fridays. We didn’t do anything that would enable him to find this out. It was better that way. (He knows how to find the TV schedule now, so this wouldn’t work any more.)

The ITNG phase lasted several months, during which I inflicted the torture on my Twitter followers while I was watching it (because it was only fair that they had to go through it with me).

ITNG was followed by a Sesame Street obsession – again a show aimed at a slightly younger audience, but I think he actually learned stuff from it, so that was rather cool. And to add to the entertainment, every show he and I would be hanging out to see whether Zoe would make an appearance.

Zoe is one of the newer generation of Muppets on Sesame Street. (By “new” I mean any time after I’d finished watching the show. Zoe first appeared in 1993, which is why I’d never heard of her.)

Juniordwarf has a Zoe teddy. She’s one of his favourite teddies. When he got her, he didn’t watch Sesame Street and he called her Chocolate the Girl (to distinguish her from Chocolate the Boy – who is now called Pete).   But when he realised she was Zoe on Sesame Street, he changed her name. He said she’d always been Zoe and that Chocolate had just been a nickname from the beginning. Yeah right.

Once he’d seen her on TV, he was fascinated, and so Sesame Street became the Next Big Thing.

Fast forward a few more months and he got into his Peppa Pig phase.

The less said about this the better. All I could think of was Pigs = Bacon, and wondered how on earth they could get away with putting characters that look like giant penises on children’s television. (Come on, you think the same thing too don’t you.)

And what’s with the way their eyes swap over to the other side of their face when they turn around? Something is seriously wrong there.

Fortunately, this phase didn’t last too long (or else I’ve blacked out several months of memories from my mind, because I don’t remember it lasting too long) and he moved on.

Juniordwarf had seen ads on TV for Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, but (now says) he didn’t think he’d like it. Then one day, somehow, somewhere, an episode came on while the TV was on (re-reading this, it seems like this happens a lot at our house). He started watching it and, like every other show that “just happened to be on at the time”, it became his favourite.

He also likes to act it out, and he remembers every line. At first this drove me nuts, because I kept hearing the same story over and over again. The line “Cakes! Cakes! The Queen is baking cakes*!” became etched into my mind, and I wanted everyone involved with the show to die a slow lingering death in a vat of Queen Thistle’s sticky fudge cake. When I found out that the people who made this show were also responsible for Peppa Pig, I was even more determined that this should happen.

No wonder some of the voices sounded familiar.

But something changed. I watched the show with Juniordwarf once. And another time, and then another. Then one day I started to empathise with one of the characters. (I’m not going to tell you which one. You can probably guess. It was one of the sensible characters.)

That was it. I was doomed.

A group of cartoon elves standing around a large footprint on the ground. There are apple cores hanging in the trees
Season 2, Episode 20: The Fruit Harvest (Picture straight from the TV),

Now I believe I might have developed an unhealthy obsession with interest in finding out some of the untold stories behind the show. Stories that are alluded to for a fleeting moment, but never explained.

Things like what exactly is the history between Granny Thistle and the Wise Old Elf? And what was the incident with the monkey kittens?

These are things I need to know.

*Season 2, Episode 37: The Queen Bakes Cakes.

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