Justin’s House has started on CBeebies and it is proper mental. First of all, it’s clear that the BBC, quite rightly, view Justin Fletcher as a valuable asset and are prepared to give him whatever he wants. More singing in Something Special? Sure. Sketch show with lotsa cross-dressing opportunities? Tranny it up! We love you, Justin. Something Special showed that clowns don’t have to be creepy (though you’re phoning it in for series seven, a bit), you have a facility for voices and vocal FX which mean you’re a natural for work on the wordless animated masterpieces Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time, Gigglebiz is properly weird and hilarious, you clearly love the work. What do you want to do?
Panto. What Justin really wants to do is panto. So this is what he has been given. Every Saturday and Sunday morning for the next eleven weeks, he gets a half-hour panto all about him. He has a robot servant – a clear, um, homage to Red Dwarf’s Kryten – called Robert, a madcap delivery girl called Dee and a mischievous pet/pest, the puppet Little Monster. Guests from the world of children’s entertainment show up and are variously awful or charming (Andy and Alex from CBeebies were particularly warm). Songs are sung, dances are danced and there is much larking about. I expect at some point Justin will drag up as one of his terrible pantomime dames. It’s all very day-glo and cheerful.
Or… is it? There’s something worrying lurking in Justin’s House, from the title down. Justin lives in Justin’s House, in Justin Town. His fridge has JUSTIN’S FRIDGE on it, as if he might forget and wonder why there is a strange fridge in his kitchen. The paper Justin takes is the Justin Times, which is full of news about, well, Justin. His shopping bags have his face on them, his crisp packets are Justin brand. It’s all about him; but is this ego, or is this something else?
My theory is that Justin is in a coma, and this is his mind trying to help him out. Look at the characters surrounding him. Robert and Dee Livery, aspects of his ego, quietly ensure his life goes to plan, either by organising the chaos of his psyche or by fetching whatever mental resource he requires at any given moment.. And Little Monster? That’s his id, bashing through the mirage by defying the laws of space and appearing to move instantly around the house at whim.
It’s a sign, Justin. I’m amazed that the Justin Times isn’t filled with pages simply saying “WAKE UP JUSTIN”. It’s an uncomfortable mash of Big Brother and Life on Mars, if John Simm had been a children’s entertainer instead of a cop, with Justin trapped in this unreal house in front of a baying audience of faintly bemused pre-schoolers. The series will no doubt culminate in Justin having to decide on the reality or his own mental prison. Choose wisely, Mr Fletcher, because this level of indulgence will only last so long in the real world.