New ITV series Planet Child is setting out to explore the ways children experience life in different parts of the world.
The first of three parts aired last night (May 1) and saw a group of four to seven year olds left ‘alone’, in the centre of London, with a mission of getting to the London Eye.
But viewers appeared to be divided over the way the show’s controversial setup was presented, with some hailing it as a brilliant experiment and others slamming it as “false”.
Taking to Twitter, one angry viewer wrote: “There’s clearly a camera crew on the bus with them? Yet, we’re being told that the children believe they’re on the bus with strangers? Wtf? TV is so false these days #PlanetChild.”
Another tweeted: “I thought the bus had hidden cameras and chaperones? So why did I just see a blatantly obvious camera crew on the top deck?”
A third said: “They aren’t on their own, there’s a feckin camera crew with them!!!! #PlanetChild.”
There’s clearly a Camera Crew on the bus with them? Yet, we’re being told that the children believe they’re on the bus with stranger? Wtf ? TV is so false these days #PlanetChild pic.twitter.com/RIXWRw17wV
— LG (@LPGLDN) May 1, 2019
#PlanetChild I thought the bus had hidden cameras and chaperones? So why did I just see a blatantly obvious camera crew on the top deck?
— Eastieoaks (@EastieOaks) May 1, 2019
They aren’t on their own there’s a feckin camera crew with them!!!! #PlanetChild
— JoeHEO2 (@brass_neck2) May 1, 2019
The documentary series made it clear the children were never really alone, as they were being watched throughout their journey across the capital. Some viewers loved what they were seeing.
Someone wrote: “Quite amazing to watch #PlanetChild. Those small kids making their way around London on their own.”
A second person who enjoyed the programme said: “#PlanetChild, what a fabulous programme!!! The children are amazing.”
Another commented: “#PlanetChild, brilliant programme. Children are capable of doing much more than we think.”
Quite amazing to watch #PlanetChild those small kids making their way around london on their own.
— Emma Dale (@EmmaDale022) May 1, 2019
— Nicky McDonnell (@hollygolitelyy) May 1, 2019
#planetchild brilliant programme. Children are capable of doing much more than we think.
— Healthy Reads (@m_skrzydlowska) May 1, 2019
For some viewers, many of them parents, having to watch young children walking through crowds of strangers and near busy roads was a bit much.
“#PlanetChild Omg… brilliant. It’s actually brilliant. I’m scared for them, I’m daunted when I take on London and I’m.. 43yrs older!! Omg!!,” said one.
“Omg this #PlanetChild programme is so going to open my eyes! As a parent of two primary school children who are taken to and from the school gates every day – these little kids on their own is giving me anxiety,” tweeted another.
“Watching #PlanetChild with my heart in my mouth… but when I consider the freedoms I enjoyed as a child, why am I so scared for my own children to experience life for themselves… someone else wrote.”
#PlanetChild OMG..brilliant. It's actually brilliant 😲 I'm scared for them, I'm daunted when I take on London & I'm.. 43yrs older!! Omg!! 🙈
— Kath Wilson (@katsitter) May 1, 2019
Watching #PlanetChild with my heart in my mouth… but when I consider the freedoms I enjoyed as a child why am I so scared for my own children to experience life for themselves…
— Carrie (@CarrieHurst) May 1, 2019
For the first episode, twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken were inspired by the freedom that children in some other countries have compared to kids in Britain, where it was claimed that children are spending more time indoors than prisoners.
Sussex mum Rebecca, whose seven-year-old twins Judah and Darcee featured on the show, said: “There are times that I’m just not sure that they are savvy enough to push those boundaries themselves. So I need to put that boundary in place.
“I’ve got separation anxiety I think. It’s a really big deal, it’s London and they’re really little.”
Planet Child’s aim is to explore independence, risk-taking, morality and other key areas of a child’s development across a range of scenarios, as it looks to further our understanding of how youngsters learn and see the world.
– Planet Child continues next Wednesday (May 8th) on ITV at 9pm.
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