Sunday, 19 May 2013

Lizzie Webb – Lizzie & Joggy Bear

Lizzie and Joggy Bear Video Cover
Lizzie Webb - or “Mad Lizzie” if you want to use her gangster name - was the Keep Fit expert on TV-AM during the late eighties and early nineties. Joggy Bear was her co-presenter, youth ambassador and adopted son.
It’s a bit uncomfortable watching the interaction between Lizzie and Joggy on this video. I don’t doubt for a minute that Lizzie Webb loves Joggy dearly but I fear that their relationship isn’t entirely healthy,

Lizzie is clearly trying to tick all the Caring Parent boxes. She bakes cakes and makes sure Joggy brushes his teeth every morning. They have a lovely house in a leafy English village somewhere.
There’s a hint of emotional abuse about the relationship though. Throughout the workout, there is a constant barrage of criticism from Lizzie to Joggy. She tells him off for the state of his fairly tidy bedroom, huffily clearing some toys away and telling Joggy that he’ll trip over them and break his neck.  They’re on a table. The woman’s risk awareness is completely messed up.

Lizzie and Joggy Bear Video Back Cover

 She makes continual references to Joggy’s weight. I know this is a fitness DVD and everything but give the poor guy a break, Lizzie.  “Look at that tummy! Joggy can’t even find his waist!” she shouts insensitively. She asks him to get off his bed telling him that it can barely contain his weight and says that he is getting so fat from eating sweets that they will need to do the exercises double-time.
The words of the theme tune tell us:  “Joggy Bear you’re the happiest bear we know” but I suppose it’s all relative. If you don’t know any other bears, then the one bear in your acquaintance will be the happiest.

Joggy really doesn’t seem happy. He spends a lot of time gesticulating behind Lizzie’s back. It’s hard to tell exactly what gestures he is trying to do with his paws because he might as well be wearing oven gloves. If Lizzie asks him to do something, he goes into an unresponsive sulk.
Lizzie Webb and Joggy Bear wear bright yellow nineties-style tracksuits
Everyone in the early 90s dressed like Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs. It was the law.
At the end of the video, Lizzie reads a story from “Joggy’s Story Book”. It’s a rambling, baggy tale about how Joggy Bear went to see the band “Bruno & The Brunettes”.  It hasn’t picked up any literary awards.

The story, however, does raise a worrying question. How old is Joggy Bear, exactly?
His bedroom is decorated like a nursery with alphabet charts and a teddy bear shaped activity toy. There’s a height chart which only goes up to Joggy’s midriff. He is considerably taller than the adult he lives with.

Lizzie Webb and Joggy Bear
 Not pictured: undercurrent of despair
In the story, Joggy goes a gig, meets up with Lulu who is clearly his girlfriend and then comes home unaccompanied late at night and lets himself in. The story is presented as something that happened in the recent past. Lizzie, tellingly, doesn’t appear in the story.

I think we have to face the reality that Joggy isn’t really a child. He is a young adult being forced to fulfil the role of a child by his domineering parent, unwilling – or unable – to accept the truth. It’s like Timothy Lumsden in ‘Sorry’. Or the guy in that Ian McEwan short story who sleeps in a cot and is spoon-fed by his mother until he is 17.

This is what life will be like when you're 42, Joggy. Think on.

Unable to stand up for himself, Joggy merely mumbles and groans and does rude paw gestures behind Lizzie back.

The anger is obviously bubbling under the surface.  During one of their morning warm-ups Lizzie has Joggy doing some boxing moves. Goaded beyond endurance by her shouts of “You can do better!” and “hit harder!”, Joggy smacks Lizzie in the face causing her to lose consciousness. She got off lightly, really. A single swipe from a Brown Bear can be deadly to humans. There have been cases where humans have had their heads completely crunched by bear bite. And they probably weren’t even telling them to tidy their bedroom at the time.

Joggy Bear punches Lizzie Webb in the face
See kids, this is how you do violence properly.

Best Bit
Each section of the workout takes place on a consecutive day of the week. Monday through Friday we see Joggy Bear confined to the house with only Mad Lizzie for company. It is a bit of a relief come Saturday to see Joggy leave the house and go to his dance lesson.

We’ll gloss over the fact that its run by Lizzie and taking place at “Lizzie’s Dancing Studio” and  despite the fact that she’s clearly been running this business venture for a while, this is the first time that Joggy has been permitted to attend. We’ll also gloss over the fact that as soon as they arrive, Lizzie says to the class, “Sorry I’m late but it wasn’t my fault” while looking pointedly at Joggy.
Lizzie Webb and Joggy Bear at Lizzie's Dancing School
Behave yourself Joggy. You don't want to have to go in the cellar again, do you?
I just think it’s nice that he got to spend some time out of the house with maybe the chance to make some new friends. Not best friends, of course.  We all know, a boy’s best friend is his mother.

Would I do this Workout Again?
Oh yeah, there was a workout in here somewhere, I forgot. It got lost amongst the familial dysfunction. I don’t think I can face stepping into the dark world of Bear and Webb again.

You know, Lizzie hasn’t been on television for a while, now. Perhaps Joggy finally had enough and pulled her head off.

2 comments:

  1. I would watch this video daily when I was 3 years old. Just rewatched it on YouTube for the first time in years and you are spot on! πŸ˜‚πŸ‘Œ

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