I am 82 and was brought up in the glory days of BBC Radio: Saturday-Night Theatre; ‘The Man in Black’, Valentine Dyall; Monday Night at 8; Mr. Middleton, Toytown, Paul Temple; Dick Barton; Swallows and Amazons and The Big Six serialised; and so on.
In my early adult working years it was Journey into Space in early evening, and as often as I could out dancing, followed by marriage, more work and motherhood, Women’s Hour, and I never missed having a television, though I saw it occasionally (often the early Dr. Who or Star Trek) while visiting parents.
I was happy to read, or iron or knit or sew while listening to Radio Drama. TV is a time-waster: you cannot do anything else at the same time.
We never bought one till 1972, when we undertook the early OU Science courses which demanded it. And for twelve years I restricted myself to the OU programmes, serious science and other features, Horizon, Tomorrow’s World, the Ascent of Man, the Royal Society Lectures, and the occasional indulgence in good Sci-Fi film such as Forbidden Planet.
As I aged, and lived alone, still working, I gradually got hooked on classic British comedy, Dad’s Army, Open All Hours, The Good LIfe, To the Manor Born, but was still inclined to watch only after 6.00 pm while having wall-to-wall R4, from getting up to going to work, and all weekends.
On retirement I got involved in U3A, and having become a proficient computer user while working, set myself up at home, where I could handle many admin tasks for various leisure organisations, teach evening classes, go to dancing classes or the theatre, and have few evenings in, so my son (an IT specialist) set me up with TiVo.
I loved it as I’m now able to trawl the schedules and pick on my preferred genres to be recorded and saved for viewing only when I was ready to collapse in front of a screen and do nothing else, except perhaps eat a tray supper.
The TV is simply never turned on earlier in the day, with exceptions for the 9-11 event that I had just heard announced on radio, the Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph each year, and such similar special occasions.
I prefer the R4 Today programme for keeping abreast of the day’s news while I eat breakfast, potter round the house or get ready to go out to a U3A group.
So it is very very rarely that I ever watch TV directly. I cannot, for example, stand most of the popular Saturday evening ‘entertainment’ or the interminable daytime repeats and quizzes. I hardly ever watch films.
I have been given CDs and DVDs but rarely watch them as I always have far too much recorded to catch up on and am too lazy to spend time on the floor sliding disks in and out.
I follow medical soaps; Horizon and other science documentaries; good drama such as Morse and Lewis and the better whodunits and forensic stories, both fictional and true, including the American ones: Law and Order, NCIS, the CSIs; and on Freeview I catch up on the earlier series I never discovered before: George Gently and Mr. Whicher, for example.
I have no desire to add any paid channels. I am not a couch potato, but am busy most days either out or working at home, in house or on computer, with R4 on in the background (except for two ‘popular comedy’ programmes that send me fleeing to Classic FM).
So I settle down with satisfaction most evenings (when not out) to indulge in a cornucopia of selective viewing – more informative and much less fattening than chocolate.
C. J. Lay