Fish out of water docu-soaps.. you’ve got to love them. This latest offering from C4 was entertaining in parts, but it was also more loaded than a Mumsnet opinion piece. We’d barely been introduced to the three sacrificial blokes who were about to be thrown to the metaphorical lions (in this case, an army of toddlers) before our narrator was telling us that modern day society has created a generation of useless dads. Whoa there! What was that!? I’m willing to accept that women do the lion’s share of childcare and many fathers need to pull their socks up, but that’s quite a lazy generalisation on C4’s part. Have Father’s For Justice been making fools of themselves for nothing? At least such sweeping statements told us where Daddy Daycare was headed though, even if the poor ‘daddys’ in question didn’t.
Yes folks, Jay (vasectomy-seeking dad with kid allergies), Stefan (ex-army bloke with a penchant for tough love and institutions) and Garry (workaholic with two kids) were the first to take the plunge for this new series and they don’t make the best start. Yet what the programme-makers didn’t bother pointing out is that a roomful of nursery school kids would be intimidating for most adults, good parents and bad. Being a nursery teacher is a skilled job which requires talent, experience and training, and like anyone dropped in at the deep end on the first day at a new job, the blokes were struggling.
The point that C4 are pursuing is a valid one; many fathers don’t spend enough time with their kids. But this wasn’t a very imaginative way of making it. Some might say the programme was saved by the formulaic final act (the always effective ‘Docu-Soap Epiphany Finale ™’) which demonstrated how a week at nursery had changed the lives of the fathers in question, but something more original might have shed a bit more light on the problem..