Happy Little Trees


2020051120200513 (R4)An exploration of young people's mental health and their attraction to TV artist Bob Ross.

"You absolutely have to have dark in order to have light." This sentiment from television art instructor Bob Ross is perhaps more resonant than ever at the present time.

Former army sergeant Bob Ross shot to fame in the 1980s and 90s with an instructional TV show called The Joy of Painting. It ran on the American Public Broadcast network until 1994, a year before Bob’s death. Twenty years later, his shows have found a new audience via YouTube, particularly among young people. His gentle manner presenting his real-time paint-along technique, peppered with advice about life itself, provides an alternative form of therapy - reducing anxiety, relieving stress and aiding sleep.

Presented by 25 year old Jack Taylor, himself no stranger to anxiety, and recorded before and during the lockdown, Happy Little Trees invites listeners into landscapes that, as Bob himself says, 'exist only in mind' before finding expression on canvas.

With contributions from art instructor Jayne Good (of Paint With Jayne), student medic Orkun Colak, Fern Oxley from Doncaster, Jack's friend Louis Judkins, Sarah Rodway-Swanson and Nick Farrer (Nightline Association).

With thanks to Bob Ross Inc.

Produced by Hannah Dean
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4