Every week our children are encouraged by Rolf Harris to “join today”, and to date over 90,000 have enthusiastically accepted the invitation, reports Ken Clark.
The membership of Roll’s Cartoon Club is growing rapidly and much of its popularity is due to the efforts of the talented and open-minded team responsible for its format and content. However, format and content are meaningless without a charismatic personality capable of generating and sustaining interest, making it sparkle and giving it a very special appeal. Without a shadow of doubt their hottest property is the star of the show Rolf Harris.
Rolf Harris is a natural. He never talks down to children, he treats them with the greatest respect while instinctively maintaining that delicate balance of seriousness and buffoonery. Meeting him for the first time, you are immediately aware of the passionate love this man has for his work, a truly dedicated technician who has never forgotten what it is like to be a child.
HTV West deserves recognition for having had the good sense to provide the air time and the encouragement to show off his talents.
Following the first programme in Series Two the studio received over two sacks full of mail, each sack containing approximately 700 letters. The week before my visit 2000 letters had been received in one day, such is the programmes popularity.
Kate Slavin and her little group coordinate the Cartoon Club enquiries sorting the mail on arrival and replying to the children’s questions. They range from, “How can I become a cartoonist?” to “What pens do you use, Rolf?” Some enquire after popular cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner. They often seek general career advice. Their letters are all very personal since each child believes it will be read by Rolf. Whenever they receive communications from “special needs” children, the handicapped, disabled or dyslexic then Kate ensures that a selection will be sent to him to read. (Regrettably Kate has now left the Cartoon Club, but her place has been taken by the very able Michelle Miles.)
Obviously, many, many children want to be ‘workshoppers’, to be among the lucky few invited into the studio to work out their imaginative ideas. They are encouraged to send in examples of their artwork because that is the way they are chosen.
They have had innumerable requests for merchandise such as replicas of Roll’s sweat shirts, and there is considerable potential in this direction. All the used stamps are saved to buy guide dogs for the blind and even the old envelopes are recycled. The children are aware of this and write saying, “I think this is a very good idea”. The most interesting questions and answers are published in the Newsletter, as are the technical questions which usually come from fifteen-year olds.