As any previous readers might remember, I have a strong interest in the surroundings of our family history. Houses, friends, pets, jobs. Life. Otherwise family trees are just dates. I am currently therefore really enjoying reading the late Margaret Forster's My Life In Houses. She uses her history of houses, student rooms and so on to look at her life and at the idea of 'home'. Highly recommended.
And in homage, I introduce a very brief 'life in television'. We are now leaving very different records of our lives behind for our descendants to find. So maybe, as also shown by the excellent BBC2 series Back In Time For The Weekend, it is time for a look back.
For example, my children are completely fascinated by me starting life with virtually no television. And the bit I saw was black and white! Horrors! In fact, the arrival of colour television in my home is fixed in my mind very clearly. I suddenly realised that Bagpuss was pink...
I remember watching live as the SAS 'went in' to the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980. And Lesley Judd arriving in New York on Concorde for Blue Peter. There were sneaky attempts to watch 'unsuitable' programmes like Dallas and I had a passion for 1960s programmes like The Monkees or Star Trek. The Dukes of Hazzard and other American imports like The A-Team were mandatory Saturday tea-time viewing. We learnt how to use videos too.
At university in the early 1990s, my household did love Eldorado, a soap opera so bad it was brilliant. My now husband's houseful of lads sat down most days to play Countdown - nothing changes with students. And we were very keen on This Morning - for many reasons but mainly Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan.
TV memories during my London work years include Friends, George Clooney smouldering in ER, Princess Diana's funeral and the Hollyoaks Sunday omnibus, which accompanied the obligatory hangover. We worked and played hard then. I do remember typing endless letters to Question Time on behalf of the MP I worked for. She never did get on the panel though. Then later, to my university friends' delight, when I retrained as a chef, I worked on The Richard and Judy Show, cooking lunches, canapés, stuff ordered by celebrities. All sorts. Richard and Judy themselves were just as we had imagined. I loved them. Never saw the show though - always finishing post-show prep!
Since children? Well, I was blessed with an eldest who believed in getting up before CBeebies even went on air. There was no YouTube or iPlayer so we watched the same videos on a loop. I know Postman Pat and the Ice Cream Machine back to front even now (click for the full episode!). We then progressed through all the staples - Thomas, Power Rangers, Disney cartoons, etc etc. Adult TV was a mystery. There was no 'catch-up' and I was too knackered to stay up.
Now, as technology has sped up and the way we watch programmes has changed so much, I have realised the only way to view anything actually with the children is to stage a movie night. They don't use a TV guide. They barely watch anything when it is first broadcast. Their main viewing is YouTube channels. They can talk for an hour in the car about their favourite stuff and we have absolutely no idea what they are going on about. And the old programmes I enthuse about for them seem so slow when tracked down on said YouTube.
Me, I am still of the generation who are excited about a new series starting at a particular time. New Peaky Blinders on 5 May? Line of Duty final episode this week? Clear the evening diary. Get the wine and the snacks ready. I love iPlayer and the other services' convenience but some programmes deserve to be events. Which apparently definitely shows my age.