In light of the fact that my Husband Mike is just as big a fan of Tractor Ted as Hayden is after our first tractor ted event back in May, he has written this review about two of the Tractor Ted DVD.
Mikes Review- A dads perspective
At the end of our first visit to a Tractor Ted day at Bowood House Lisa asked if I could watch the boys whilst she “popped into” the gift tent. Nothing strikes fear into my heart like an ad-hoc shopping opportunity.
Fortunately for me Lisa picked up a Tractor Ted DVD (Massive Machines) and it became an instant hit with both Hayden and myself. Soon afterwards the amazing team at tractorland sent us another two Tractor Ted DVD, “Diggers and Dumpers” and “All about Harvesters” and they’ve been on rotation ever since.
Tractor Ted Story
There’s a lot to like about the tractor ted story. Inspired by her children’s demands to stop the car whenever they saw farm machinery at work mum Alexandra Heard sought out childhood friend and farmer David Horler to make a pilot episode of the show. From that first episode the Tractor Ted phenomenon has grown to sell over 90,000 DVDs a year. The whole affair is run from rural Somerset (west is best) and despite all this success still feels very local; in “All About Harvesters” forage harvesters work with shots of Cliftonwood in the distant background and a Combine works its way through Bath on the way to harvest a field.
The content is very different to your traditional children’s television programme with a distinct lack of bright colours, dancing aliens, shouting or excitement, although there is singing (more on that later). I would describe it as having more to do with the slow TV movement than the teletubbies. The content feels wholesome and educational which is also part of the attraction.
The format of each Tractor Ted DVD is that there is a narrative piece, filmed locally, that focusses on a different subject for example, dairy farming, preparing silage or all the day in the life of a JCB operator. This is interspersed with footage from around the UK that is linked to the DVD’s theme. Tractor Ted, who narrates each DVD, provides a calm and unassuming commentary to events to help understand what’s going on.
Each segment is repetitive, but not overly so, which adds to the calming feeling of the whole thing and really seems to satisfy Hayden as he can just sit back and watch what’s going on. One of my favourite things is that each time a new machine comes on the screen he looks at me and points at the screen, “ga” he says, just in-case I haven’t seen it.
The production quality is very good with some great camera work; “All About Harvesters” has some amazing drone shots of sugar beet harvesting. This really helps to keep the interest up for me.
I’m not so keen on the singing, which always feels a bit out of place when it starts up, but then I do need to bear in mind that this is a children’s programme; Hayden has been known to dance along so perhaps my taste in music has gone downhill now that i’m and old man father of two. I know Lisa finds them annoyingly Catchy and often has various songs stuck in her head!
I don’t think that the length or style would suit every child either especially those under two. These DVD’s were especially helpful when we were on Holiday with Hayden demanding them on repeat but Hayden’s cousin Oscar was less interested and found it hard (not surprisingly!) to sit through the whole 40 minutes.
Future Tractor Ted DVD
In future releases from Tractorland it would be great to see some HD content which would really enhance this style of program. I also think it would be a great idea to produce a series of slightly more advanced programs which go into more detail about farming practices and processes for older children who still have the farming bug.
Having said that I would heavily recommend these DVD’s to any dad or parent who wanted an antidote to the frenetic, zany and outright strange entertainment shown on any of the childrens tv channels.
If your interested in Tractor Ted and their DVDs or events you can find out more here; Tractor Ted