Hearing a little about Villeneuve’s eyesight of the Beast’s backstory can help you get an impression of precisely how labyrinthine the plot of the initial story happens to be. In Villeneuve’s version, the Beast is fatherless, and his mother left him alone in the treatment of a witch while she went off to visit protect their kingdom. Unfortunately for everybody, the witch decided to try and seduce the Beast once he was of age, and got so irritated when he refused that she transformed him into some kind of weird animal. Transformations, in Villeneuve’s tale, were pretty par for the course; she also gets into into a more elaborate explanation of fairies transforming into serpents to gain power to combat off other fairies, which got cut from later version understandably. – but it probably doesn’t strike modern readers as a triumph.
Her tireless parenting means her kid is also tipped to signify Britain at ice-skating in the 2022 Olympics. But if that’s not enough, in the beginning of the series Hayley said she wanted him to win Child Genius to prove he is clever as well as musical and athletic. Didn’t Hayley baulk at the uncomfortable scene in which she is shown dismissing her son’s anxieties as he prepares to play Bach? When the tiny boy, bugged-eyed with terror, whispers ‘Mummy, I’m worried’, she corrects him – in a way which is clearly meant to say the show will continue: ‘No! But also for Hayley it’s all area of the job.
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‘Curtis actually wasn’t frightened, he was only a little nervous because everyone was standing very close to him,’ she reassures me afterwards. Within its justification for Child Genius, Channel 4 has claimed the series is a ‘celebration of cleverness’. Repeatedly, the voice-overs try to supply the veneer of intellectual respectability with reminders that the series has been manufactured in association with Mensa, the high IQ culture as if that makes it Fine -.
But if Child Genius really aims to make it ‘cool to be clever’, why do the cameras home in so on the social awkwardness of some of the rivals unsparingly? Advanced intellectual growth often comes at the cost of emotional and social development – as the programme-makers are all too keen to show. No wonder instructors have asked why, when some of the children have behavioural clearly, social or emotional difficulties, there has been any mention of these conditions hardly? Last night, week the pressure had caused Eleanor the programme crowed that the previous, 12, to break down before she even made it to the podium. Yet here she again was.
Eleanor, month an obsessive book-reader who devours 100 books a, may have picked up her first Dickens book at the age of five. But she shows the kind of extreme black-or-white thinking that children with uneven emotional development often show. Advanced intellectual growth often comes at the expense of emotional and social development Eleanor’s mother claimed she didn’t want her daughter to take part in your competition, but that Eleanor had applied herself.
The youngster certainly displays an almost desperate determination to achieve success, detailing: ‘If you don’t do well on Child Genius, you get kicked out of the round. If you don’t do well at the A-levels, you don’t get a place at a good school. If you don’t enter a good university, you don’t get a good job.
So was it any shock that once again, after being flummoxed by the first few questions in the overall knowledge circular, her lip starts to wobble? When the stern-looking quiz get good at posed a hard question on chemistry, Eleanor’s face crumpled. Then her voice faded to a squeak before she dissolved into sobs and her mother had to take her away.
As one reviewer put it, this is the kind of TV that ‘makes you feel mucky for watching it’. Finally, night the elephant in the area was addressed with the introduction of 12-year-old Cuneyd last, from North London, who has Asperger’s syndrome. At one point, he could be pictured striking his head against a locker at school before dealing with his fellow pupils about the condition. One of the effects is that Cuneyd challenges with words and their meanings.