Planet Child viewers at the edge of their seats

Planet Child viewers at the edge of their seats

Planet Child viewers praise ‘nerve-wracking but wonderful’ TV experiment which tasks children under seven with navigating London COMPLETELY alone

  • Planet Child delves into the way children experience life in Britain and the world 
  • First of three-part series aired on Wednesday and saw viewers on edge of seats
  • Doctors tasked three groups of British children, 4-7, to find London Eye alone 
  • Compared them to same aged kids in Japan & Africa who commute or make fires 
  • ITV viewers quickly took to Twitter to admit footage made for tense viewing

A brand new series which tests the abilities of young children in a series of bold experiments has left viewers on the edge of their seats. 

Planet Child, a three-part series for ITV, delves into the way children experience life across Britain and the world today, exploring key areas such as risk-taking, independence, morality and gender awareness in a range of scenarios.

The first episode, which aired on Wednesday night, saw twin doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken send a group of four to seven-year-olds across London without their parents, using a  map and London transport to take a trip on the London Eye.

And viewers quickly took to Twitter expressing their anxiety over the episode, which saw the youngsters cross busy roads and approach strangers for help, but praising it for proving that children can be given more independence.

Planet Child is a new series which tests the abilities of young children – leaving ITV viewers on the edge of their seats. Pictured: Leo, seven, and his sisters Abi, five, and Harleigh, four, live with their mum, Claire, in Margate, Kent had have never been ‘more than a metre’ away from their mum by themselves before they were tasked with exploring London alone

One tweeted: ‘That was a great programme. Too many parents are wrapping their children in cotton wool and leaving them ill prepared for adult life. This shows very young children can be independent (although I’m not about to put mine on a London bus!’

Another said: ‘Brilliant to see the importance of freedom, risky play and independence being highlighted. How beautifully put ‘I feel bigger than I am…’ 

Meanwhile another added:  ‘Totally nerve wracking, but utterly wonderful. I’d like 1 Kieran and 1 Rita please.’

One said: ‘Wonderful to watch the children enjoying and embracing their independence on Planet Child’.

‘Utterly brilliant! I felt quite emotional watching those little tots complete the task in London, we so underestimate our children!’ one tweeted.

Commenting on the cultural difference between the UK and Japan, one wrote: ‘OMG, the journey the 6 yr old Japanese boy made to get to school was terrifying! Walking across busy roads, bus, train then another walk, it made me shudder! 

‘Terrifies me to think of my 7yr old grandson being in a busy place on his own. Independence in small steps’. 

Seven-year-old twins Judah and Darcee, who live with their parents Tim and Rebecca, and twin brothers in Sussex, also joined the experiment. While Judah is usually the confident one who takes the lead ‘as he is 9 seconds older’ – the test saw Darcee take the lead and navigate them


Cousins Kieran and Rita, both aged five, from a farm in the Yorkshire Dales have little experience of life outside Yorkshire, and were among the youngsters tasked with finding their way to the London Eye

Questioning those around them however, one said: ‘Great experiment but I am surprised nobody stopped them to ask them if they were ok or lost. I think a lot of people in London would stop young children on their own and call their parents or the police’.

And some questioned the test, arguing:  ‘You takeaway all the paedophiles and bad people from the world and I’ll think about letting my kids out the garden! Until then, their stuck by my side!’.

Another added: ‘The world has changed so much from when we were growing up (young and free), thats why parents are afraid of leaving their children unattended nowdays.’ 

One said: ‘I wouldn’t advise anyone to let their child (under the age of 10) travel around Central London unaccompanied. London is a very dangerous place these day’. 

Viewers praised the programme for highlighting that children can be given more independence

However some admitted they still wouldn’t let their children out alone

In the first episode doctors Chris and Xand were inspired by the freedom given to children in other countries. 

Viewers were given a glimpse of six-year-old Michi from Japan, who commutes alone across Tokyo to get to school, and seven-year-old Uuakhuike, from the Himba tribe in Namibia, who uses a machete to gather firewood for his family.

Michi, who lives in a one-bedroomed apartment with his parents and three siblings, travels across Tokyo by bus, train and foot, battling commuters to get to school.

Speaking in the eye-opening episode, his mum said: ‘In Japan we have a saying, ‘Let your beloved child go on a journey.’ To go out on your own is the first step towards independence.’

His dad added: ‘I worry about strangers approaching him. If he doesn’t get off at the right stop.’

The first episode, which aired on Wednesday night, saw twin doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken send a group of four to seven-year-olds across London without their parents, using a map and London transport to take a trip on the London Eye

Michi, who lives in a one-bedroomed apartment with his parents and three siblings, travels across Tokyo by bus, train and foot, battling commuters to get to school

In Namibia, seven-year-old Uuakhuike, who is part of the Himba tribe and lives with his dad, mum, his dad’s second wife and six brothers and sisters, was seen leaving the village to gather firewood.

In the Himba tribe, children as young as three are taught how to use a machete. Uuakhuike, and his five-year-old brother walk miles from the safety of their village in search of firewood always keeping alert to dangers such as wild dogs and elephants.

But with British children now spending less time outdoors than prison inmates – and being heavily supervised most of the time – the doctors created a test of independence for their British Planet Child kids. 

Cousins Kieran and Rita, both aged five, from a farm in the Yorkshire Dales had little experience of life outside Yorkshire, and were among the youngsters tasked with finding their way to the London Eye.

Meanwhile Leo, seven, and his sisters Abi, five, and Harleigh, four, live with their mum, Claire, in Margate, Kent, and had have never been ‘more than a metre’ away from their mum by themselves.

Speaking before they embarked on their task, Claire admitted: ‘It’s a bit worrying handing them over. I’ve never let them get a bus by themselves.’ 

In Namibia, seven-year-old Uuakhuike, who is part of the Himba tribe and lives with his dad, mum, his dad’s second wife and six brothers and sisters, is seen leaving the village to gather firewood

Elsewhere seven-year-old twins Judah and Darcee, who live with their parents Tim and Rebecca, and twin brothers in Sussex, also joined the experiment.

Ahead of their trip to London, Rebecca said: ‘There are times that I’m just not sure that they are savvy enough to push those boundaries themselves. So I need to put that boundary in place. I’ve got separation anxiety I think. It’s a really big deal, it’s London and they’re really little.’

The nail-biting episode saw Chris and Xand meet the children in a park in London, arming them with a map, some money and an oyster card – and the instruction that they must find their way out of the park, via the souvenir shop, and to the correct bus stop, where they must catch the right bus to the London Eye.

Kieran and Rita, the 5-year-old Yorkshire farming cousins, got distracted by a playground in a park before getting back on track

The brand new series of Planet Earth which tests the abilities of young children in a series of bold experiments has left viewers on the edge of their seats

The special buses were fitted with hidden cameras, and chaperones were around the park to observe the children, with camera operators keeping a distance meaning that the children are otherwise on their own.

However the viewing was clearly tough for many, who shared their concern on Twitter. 

But despite the many challenges and obstacles, all three groups of children found their way out of the park, picking up souvenirs on the way.   

In impressive scenes, and unaware of the hidden cameras, the children were observed sitting on the top deck of the bus and looking out of the window, admiring the views.  

And as the children sat on the bus after almost an hour of being on their own, a tense scene saw them all debating which was the correct stop to get off at. 

Impressively each group of children made it to the London Eye with no help – much to the relief of their parents, and viewers. 

ITV’s Planet Child continued on Wednesdays at 9pm. 

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