Jason Manford loves my In The Night Garden “dying sailor” theory

Jason Manford loves my In The Night Garden “dying sailor” theory


The most popular thing I have ever written is almost certainly this old blog post from November 2012, The Secret Meaning Behind In The Night Garden‘s Opening Words. Written after watching too many episodes of ITNG while my oldest (then my only) son had pneumonia, it was a mostly-joking-but-OK-maybe-not-completely look at whether Iggle Piggle is really a dying sailor hallucinating in his last moments.

This post gets a steady stream of hits every day with occasional surges in popularity. One of its biggest peaks was in October 2015 when comedian Jason Manford chanced upon it while watching ITNG with his daughter and basically thinking “what is this all about?”. He posted about it on Facebook, and thousands of people clicked the link. Many people agreed. Quite a few thought I was sick / bonkers.

To my great surprise I got an email this week from Jason’s Absolute Radio show producer asking if they could make a video based on the post. How funny that he still remembered it and was tickled by it after all this time!

The video was posted on the Absolute Radio Facebook page.

It was great hearing my words performed in a dramatic reading like this – and it was even better to read all the comments! By the way, Jason, I still think I should get a scriptwriter’s fee…. What do you reckon?

CODA: I almost crossed paths with Jason back in April 2014 when I was a reporter at the Birmingham Mail helping to cover Stephen Sutton’s inspirational fundraising. I had hoped to chat with him about his support for Stephen but on the very day I was trying to get hold of him he was actually visiting Stephen in hospital in Birmingham. I can’t believe that was nearly three years ago. Stephen, you were amazing. RIP.


Interview with Gemma Hunt from CBeebies (Woman Alive)

Interview with Gemma Hunt from CBeebies (Woman Alive)

Woman Alive Aug 2015

I spoke to the lovely Gemma Hunt, who plays plucky Gem on CBeebies’ pirate adventure show Swashbuckle, about her life, career and faith for Woman Alive magazine.

Gemma is a committed Christian who felt a calling at the age of 16 to be “salt and light in the dark place of the media” and believes her career has been blessed and guided by God.

I don’t find it difficult to be a Christian in the media. I don’t know how I would have got this far without God. […] He never gives me anything I can’t handle. Whenever I feel tested, I remind myself that God knows I can do this.

You can view a PDF of the feature here or read it on the Woman Alive website.

Top five posts of 2013

Happy New Year! I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my most popular posts during 2013, like so many others have done.

In ascending order:

5. My Grandpa

My Grandpa sadly died on January 8th, 2013, and this was my tribute to a wonderful man.

4. A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

I’ve fallen off the wagon slightly but I used to be very into natural and homemade products. I hope this post about making your own nasty-free deodorant has inspired some people to give it a try. I really ought to get back to this again.

3. About me

Ah, you must all be curious types – although, of course, this also serves as my homepage…

2. The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words

It seems a lot of people – particularly in Australia, for some reason – are also wondering whether Iggle Piggle might be dead.

1. Where are the celebrities with epilepsy?

A hot question, and one I still can’t answer. I’d love to see someone famous “come out” in 2014 as having epilepsy as I think this would have a real impact on raising awareness and combatting stigma.


The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words*

UPDATE April 2017: Comedian Jason Manford likes this post so much that he made a video of it! 

* according to my husband

After the doctor gently told us that our 14-month-old son had pneumonia and tonsillitis, I put my faith in strong antibiotics, an inhaler and Calpol to help him recover, all washed down with extra boob, plenty of snuggles and back to back episodes of In The Night Garden.

The adventures of Iggle Piggle and friends will always remind me of these past few days, cuddling up with my poorly boy and seeing him improve little by little. I’m finding myself humming the opening theme and working the words into my everyday conversations.

The night is black

And the stars are bright

And the sea is dark and deep,

But someone I know is safe and snug

And they’re drifting off to sleep.

Round and round,

A little boat

No bigger than your hand,

Out on the ocean,

Far away from land.

Take the little sail down,

Light the little light.

This is the way to the garden in the night.

I get a little shiver down my spine whenever I hear these words, especially the last few lines. It’s so zen, isn’t it? Take your sail down to get where you’re going; take your light with you to see the way in the darkness.

With echoes of the much-loved bedtime favourite The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (“The moon is high. The sea is deep. They rock and rock and rock to sleep”), this restful beginning grabs my son’s attention and leaves him spellbound.

But thanks to my husband, I now have a shadow meaning chasing my little shiver of pleasure as Iggle Piggle beds down for his journey.

Do not read further if you want to keep this image from your mind……

So, hubby says: Iggle Piggle is a dying sailor, blue with cold. Facing his unavoidable, lonely demise adrift in the middle of the ocean, far from land and hope of rescue, he admires the beauty of the night sky and acknowledges the vastness of the sea which will claim him. He decides to take down the sail to use for warmth, knowing that he no longer needs to it to help him get anywhere, and lights a lamp to aid retrieval of his body, should a boat happen to pass.

As he sails towards the garden in the night – death – he starts seeing flowers in front of his eyes and hallucinates happier times of running towards his (departed) friends, who are waiting to greet him in the sunshine. He imagines more and more fanciful things – colourful birds, huge inflatables bouncing along with manic grins, Tardis-like transportation bigger inside than out – until all his friends leave him behind.

At the end of the programme, Iggle Piggle is of course the last to go to sleep, the last of his crew left. The omniscient narrator reassures him: “Don’t worry, Iggle Piggle! It’s time to go!” – something we would all want to feel in our final moments – and he drops down flat on his back, sailing off into the night back in his little boat.

Thanks for that, hubby.

* November 6th, edited to add:

I should mention that my hubby reckons I’ve painted an overly dark picture of what he said. “The Night Garden is not an unpleasant thing – it’s predominantly a paradise rather than a negative experience.” So there. Actually, we agree that it’s really just about the experience of falling asleep. There’s no point trying to force sleep; the only way to sleep and to dream is to take down your metaphorical sail. We all know that the harder you try, the more difficult it is to drop off. Sleep tight, Iggle Piggle 🙂

UPDATE April 2017: Comedian Jason Manford likes this post so much that he made a video of it!