The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

In Conversation with: Olivia Dickinson

CMF Executive Group member Olivia Dickinson shares with us her perspective on everything children's media, her childhood memories of re-enacting Punch and Judy, and how she learnt to  make the perfect soya cappuccino.


What is your earliest memory of children’s media?
OD: "Books, both being read to and learning to read. I did not have a TV until I was nearly 10. Or watching my parents' friends put on a Punch and Judy show and I then re-enacted it, aged just 4, using my own toys (including a bright green purse with a zip for the crocodile that comes to eat the baby!)"

How did you first get involved in with The Children’s Media Foundation? What is your role?
OD: "I am currently the Diversity and Inclusion Representative for the Executive Group. I used to be the Events Manager. I got involved when Greg was expanding the Executive Group, and while he knew I'd be someone reliable to help out, I knew it was a good way to meet different people and put on events about what matters in children's media".

"I like the unexpected conversations and being connected to different people that I may not otherwise meet. But the challenge is that there is very little time. We are all volunteers and some of us may get into one aspect of the CMF for a while but then have to go back to our day jobs or family commitments."



What do you do when you are not contributing to the CMF? What is a typical day for you?
OD: "I work freelance and self-employed, so don't tend to have a typical day. Right now, too much of my time is taken up with also being an exec for the CMC 2021 - I am overseeing the Inclusivity strand again. Most days I do a variety of things:

  • Paid work as a digital producer (some for Sky Kids)
  • Paid work on other consultancy projects around digital or inclusivity: I am a script consultant for Circle Square from Wyndley Animation, which is due to air on Milkshake! on Channel 5 in the summer. Other recent projects are strictly under NDA but keep me thinking about representation across all children's media, and I sometimes do talks for workplaces about the effects of stereotypes in childhood and in children's media.
  • Volunteer work for CMC and CMF (not every day!)
  • Volunteer work for the Let Toys Be Toys campaign - some of their social media, some of the behind the scenes campaigning, very occasionally radio or TV appearances
  • Unpaid contributions to Sonshine magazine - this isn't a regular thing but I am due to contribute my third article so it seems to have become regular!
  • Try to go for a swim now gyms have reopened, and I managed Couch to 5K in the winter but now have a dodgy knee!"

What hobbies are you involved with, and why do you enjoy them?
OD: "See some of the above! At home I love cooking and baking. I have a sewing machine but haven't used it recently. I do basic tapestry kits to stop me from using my phone too much or from eating too many snacks (ahem, chocolate) 😉 I do some yoga, but I've missed doing classes in person - opening up the laptop in the evening for yoga isn't always what I want to do".

What was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
OD: "The summer before I went to university I worked at a vegetarian cafe in my local town. Most of the other staff were on a programme for people who were recovering from mental illness and this was a way to help them get back into working. I met a really good mix of people, all very different ages, with very different experiences. And I can make a really good soya cappuccino".

If you could be a character from a children’s programme, who would you be?
OD: "Well presumably Olivia the Pig? Or possibly Little My from 'Moominvalley.' When the BBC adaptation of the Narnia books was being broadcast in the late 1980s I looked quite like the actor playing Lucy"

The CMC has a role to play in ensuring high quality of children's media in the UK. I'd like the CMF to find a way to help everyone care about that - not just media industry people or policy types.





What do you think will change in the world of children’s media over the next 5 years?
: "This is the 64,000 dollar question! It's impossible to say and I don't think we should be trying to answer it. If you think back 5 years ago, children's media was very different even then, and since then we've had the pandemic and that has speeded up some types of media consumption but children themselves feel stuck in limbo, with few opportunities to progress or flourish. I'd like children's media to be leaders and not followers, enabling all children to see more of the world and understand themselves".


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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)