Who Wants to Be a Superhero? (BBC2)

Review by Stephen Theaker I cry pretty easily at films and TV programmes, but you're probably made of sterner stuff. You probably didn't cry when Buffy said goodbye to Angel, or even when the little robot boy was left alone in the forest by his mum. But even the toughest of you would crumble after seeing a dozen child superheroes bursting into tears because one of their number is to be stripped of her powers…

Originally a US reality show starring adults, but now a CBBC show hosted by two guys from Pop Idol, Who Wants to Be a Superhero? is distinctly less embarrassing with children involved, and is pretty inspirational at times. Like Mark Hammill in Star Wars, these kids really believe in what they’re doing: they completely inhabit those costumes. It’s good Saturday morning fun.

But one thing angered me during the first episode I caught. During a challenge, Dolphin Girl got in trouble for dancing across a beam straddling two rooftops. She was put up for eviction and told her behaviour was too irresponsible for a superhero.

I was apoplectic! This is Stan Lee’s programme! Have they never read an issue of Spider-Man? Would Spidey have walked slowly and carefully across that beam? No, he’d have stood on one finger and bounced across!

But the poor girl, taken to task, had her flawless defence prepared: it was in character, she said, dolphins like to show off, and so does Dolphin Girl. Well done to Dolphin Girl, my new favourite hero!

This review originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Prism.