‘Sitting down together to watch something on TV, whether as a child or a parent, can be time well spent’

We get a running commentary from our son – everything he feels comes pouring out. It is a tonic

When you were growing up, was there a TV show you watched together as a family? Was there a show that no one wanted to miss, so you all squeezed on the couch for half an hour, everyone in their designated, well-worn positions? It might have been the A-Team on a Saturday afternoon or Frasier before bed. You might have been a teenager and watched The Sopranos with your dad. Maybe yours was a Bonanza kind of family, or Knots Landing, or Dallas. Perhaps it was the soaps that brought you all together, everyone agog as Deirdre did the dirt on Ken with Mike Baldwin.

Repetition and familiarity can be a great comfort, particularly to a child. The comfort isn’t just in the moment, it’s in the memory of the moment – something you can keep with you your whole life.

Whatever it was your family chose to watch, I’d wager the show is not remembered as fondly as the time spent together. Sitting down to watch something, whether as a child or a parent, can be time well spent. You’re safe and warm and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. And if you get to watch Mr T pummel some goon with the butt of a gun while you’re at it? That’s just a bonus.

We have recently found such a programme. An unexpected programme. Every Sunday evening we all sit down for an hour of quality television and watch ... Lego Masters Australia. I should be clear: I’m not usually a fan of reality TV. Apart from the mildly dystopian feel to it all, I just don’t have the right temperament to enjoy it. I squirm too easily at any micro-embarrassment and can’t bear cruelty dressed up as entertainment. Watching a washed-up celebrity in a jungle guzzle some vile slop to win a golden star is just too much. But herein lies the genius of Lego Masters Australia – it is a reality TV show that replaces cruelty with kindness.


The concept is simple. Teams of two compete to build amazing Lego sets. It’s like The Great British Bake Off, with Lego instead of bread. But even the quaint and cosy Bake Off seems impossibly high-stakes and stressful compared to this. Peril lies in the possibility of mild disaster – someone might drop their Lego set at the last second, completely destroying it. One team might run out of time before completing their challenge; another might struggle to build something out of their comfort zone. But whatever happens the contestants are encouraged and supported by the hosts and each other. It’s incredibly refreshing and not nearly as sappy as it sounds.

And the Lego builds themselves are incredible. There is an innate joy in seeing people who are good at something ply their trade. Whether it’s playing an instrument, playing a sport, carving a sculpture or whatever else – watching people who are the best at what they do is humbling and endlessly entertaining. From spectacularly detailed dioramas to haunted mansions and fire-breathing dragons, these Lego builders are immensely talented. Plus, this show has the added bonus of inspiring our son in his own play. It fires his imagination and encourages him to think big. It conveys a powerful message: it might look tricky, but with a little patience you can build anything.

The real joy, though, is watching our son watching the show. He gets so animated, so excited. His six-year-old mind is blown by what he sees. We get a running commentary – everything he feels comes pouring out. It is a tonic. The perfect way to end the week.

As a family we have of course sat down to watch TV before, but this is different. This isn’t sitting down to watch a film or some slapped-together nonsense on Netflix. It has turned into a sort-of Sunday routine. Something the kids (and us, let’s be honest) look forward to. Watching TV is often associated with things like guilt and brain rot, but it can also be something more. I remember watching The Fast Show and Bottom on a Friday night in the sittingroom. These shows might now be considered inappropriate for kids, but looking back – who remembers the details? Who remembers Adrian Edmondson reefing Rik Mayall’s nose off with a pliers, or dumping a TV on his head?

I remember comfort and happiness.

Maybe our kids will remember these Sunday nights the same way.