If your child is around five or under, then the chances are that unless you have imposed a “zero screen time” rule you will be familiar with Bing the bunny, Flop, and all their friends. The whimsical show about a pre-school aged rabbit and his carer / guardian / cuddly toy (who knows?) Flop has achieved a cult-like following in children born since the start of the decade, with demands of “more Bing, more Bing!” heard echoing around the country. The show, based on a series of books written by Ted Dewan in the early 2000s, first aired in June 2014, and has been shown daily on CBeebies ever since, spawning a huge selection of toys, books, and other memorabilia.
Many parents experiencing Bing for the first time will no doubt be lulled into a false sense of security. At first glance it seems fairly harmless, even quite sweet, as a young rabbit tries to make sense of the world around him and learns valuable life lessons, such as sharing and why you should never stand directly in front of a swing that is in use. However, once you have watched all 78 episodes five times, you start to notice little grievances. Watch enough, and you will want to ban Bing from your house all together.
1. The Mystery of Flop
If you haven’t experience Bing, then let me summarise. Bing is a rabbit, probably the equivalent of a human three or four year old. His friends Sula (an elephant) and Pando (a panda) are of similar age. Then there is Coco, another rabbit who is probably around 6 or 7 and a bit of a know it all, and her brother Charlie, a pre-walking baby. Bing is seemingly cared for by Flop, who is best described as being a knitted insect. The other children are also cared for by strange knitted creatures, who are all smaller than their charges. There are no signs of any other adults. Bing’s house is filled with furniture that is too big for both Flop and Bing, suggesting that Bing’s parents must have been there at some point, but none of the photos on the wall depict them. They are never spoken about, and you never hear Flop say “just wait till I tell your father about this!”
So, what is Flop? Parents up and down the country, fuelled by gin, have considered this question deeply. Some surmise that Flop is a magical cuddly toy that plays with Bing whilst his parents do boring grown up stuff. Others have suggested that Flop, Padget, Amma, and all the other weird knitted creatures are aliens and that the town that Bing inhabits is a giant science experiment to determine what would happen if animals were given human levels of sentience. Darker still, is the suggestion that Bing and the other children have somehow survived a nuclear holocaust, and the carers are merely figments of their imaginations, created as a coping mechanism to help them deal with their abandonment.
You may have your own theories. However, what is abundantly clear is that as a direct result of this cartoon, an extraordinary amount of time has been spent by parents debating its hidden meaning when it’s far more likely that there is no hidden meaning and that not that much thought went into it. This time that could have been spent in more productive ways, such as meal planning, house budgeting, or determining the real reason Thomas the Tank Engine has both free will and a driver.
2. Bing Doesn’t Talk Properly
When the original Teletubbies came out 20 years ago, there was an outcry about the characters’ use of language, with the word “eh-oh” being the prime target for ire. 20 years later and it seems not that much has changed, and cartoons are still promoting poor grammar. Bing regularly confuses his tenses, using phrases such as “I falled over.”
No one is expecting a pre-schooler cartoon to use Shakespearian levels of language, even if Mark Rylance is the voice of one of the main characters. But still, it would be nice if cartoons could set a good example to our kids, especially as now the word “Yes” has been replaced in houses up and down the country with the word “Yurrp.”
3. Bing Is Really Whiny
Every episode is the same. Round the corner, not far away, Flop and Bing are doing something mundane today. Bing’s other seemingly orphaned friends and their knitted carers have joined the fun, but now Bing doesn’t want to play nicely and wants to be awkward about it all, and is going to whine about it lots.
Instead of telling Bing to suck it up and play nicely with everyone else, the knitted carers go through some sort of negotiation process. In one episode, Flop even separates out Bing’s dinner into its component parts when Bing whines about it being mixed up. Essentially, Bing teaches kids that whining works.
4. Pando Encourages Improper Attire
Pando is Bing’s friend. Let’s put aside the question of why a rabbit and a panda would be friends for a minute, and focus on Pando’s primary flaw. Pando almost always arrives on scene wearing a pair of shorts, but these are removed within a few seconds revealing a pair of white y-fronts. None of the knitted talking cuddly toys /carers / child-snatchers ever tell him to get dressed.
As a result, we see Pando at the supermarket and in just pants. At the park and in just pants. At the swimming pool and in just pants. This inevitably leads to arguments in the playground: “No, James, you can’t go down the slide with just your pants on. I don’t care if Pando did it.”
5. Flop Really Shows You Up as a Parent
In “Mobile Phone”, Flop lets Bing play with a talking lettuce app on his phone (it’s the Bing universe equivalent of the Talking Tom Cat app). Flop tells Bing to be careful with the phone, but whilst Flop is busy doing whatever it is that knitted toys / carers / alien child-snatchers do, Bing drops the phone and breaks it. He puts it in the bin to try and hide the evidence. Flop then discovers the broken phone in the bin, and reassures Bing that it’s OK, it was just an accident, and even shows Bing that the talking lettuce still works.
Here’s how this would go in any normal house on discovering the broken phone in the bin. There would be anger: “I told you to be careful, look what you have done to Mummy’s phone!” There would be tears, yours, as you remember that modern smart phones cost around £600 to replace, you don’t have insurance, and your only other option is an old Nokia from your student days. Oh, and you wouldn’t check that some stupid talking lettuce app still worked. In fact, you’d ban your child from every using the app or indeed your phone, ever again. Except, you can’t do any of that now, because Flop has shown you just how flawed your parenting methods are and you feel guilty for not taking a more gentle approach.
6. Each Episode Is Only About Five Minutes Long
Five-minutes is not enough time to boil the kettle, make the tea, sneakily scoff one of the hidden stash of chocolate biscuits whilst the tea brews, return to the living room and still have time to check both Facebook and Twitter. The people behind Sky’s series link, and the software on the BBC’s iPlayer, Netflix, and Amazon Prime that enables the next episode of a series to be played automatically were clearly parents of toddlers that suffered from Bing addiction and were fed up of having to search for a new episode every five-minutes.
7. Bing Appears to Be a Psychopath in Waiting
Let’s look at the evidence. In “Chalk Dinosaur”, he puts graffiti all over the pavement, even being encouraged by Flop to do so. OK, it might be chalk, but soon it will be Crayola crayons in the hallway when Flop isn’t looking, and before you know it a teenaged tearaway Bing will be hanging out in subways drinking bottles of blue WKD and scrawling “B1ng” all over the walls.
Later, Bing is seen helping Flop at Padget’s shop where he steals a lollipop. At this point, he’s already on a one-way ticket to an ASBO. However, the prime piece of evidence can be seen in the episode “Butterfly”, where Bing holds a butterfly so tight in his hands that he squashes it dead. Everyone knows that early signs of psychopathic disorders include small animal torture. You have been warned.
8. It’s Not a Bing Thing
“Flying a kite. It’s a Bing thing.” “Riding a bike. It’s a Bing thing.” “Sharing. It’s a Bing thing.” Every episode ends with these words. They’re not “Bing” things, they’re normal every day things. Stop claiming them as your own, Bing! But, whining and generally being a pain in the arse – now that’s what I’d call a Bing thing.