New legislation designed to combat age discrimination in the media has had an unforeseen side-effect, with thousands of adults inundating the production offices of children’s television channels with requests to read out their birthdays.
‘It has been the dream of many of us to have our names read out on our big day,’ declared the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt MP; Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. ‘Most of us never had that privilege, but this legislation redresses the balance. When I was five, my mum sent a collage of me with Dick Dastardly and the Wacky Races to Noel Edmond’s Swap Shop,’ he recalled, ‘but it never got a mention. But last week I got a photo of me stuck onto a picture of Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear gang shown on CBBC to celebrate my 45th.’
The new law has also stimulated the arts and crafts industry, as hundreds of middle-aged and elderly parents rush to make birthday announcements for their offspring. ‘My daughter is thirty next week,’ said one shopper at Hobby Mart, ‘so I’m going to do a big card featuring all her favourite things – the cast of E.R., Hollyoaks and Homes Under the Hammer. I’m also going to add a cut-out bottle of Bacardi, behind which I’ll paste a picture of Sharon, passed out during her hen night. All I need is some glitter for that photo of David Beckham in his pants and I’m good to go.’
The first adult card appeared on Channel 5’s Milkshake show, during which the presenter produced a card for ‘Steve’. ‘Steve is forty-eight today!’ she enthused, ‘and here’s a card with all his friends: Doctor Who, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and John Craven. Oh, and in the middle here is his favourite model Jordan, and if you lift the flap… there’s the birthday boy himself.’