Nothing on the telly

Working – as I do – alongside people of a younger generation, I’m constantly reminded of just how fucking old I am.

I was chatting with one such millennial the other day, and he was saying about how he was thinking of getting Sky TV, because he was a bit of a night owl and there’s not much on the thirty-or-so terrestrial (Freeview) channels after midnight.

He was genuinely taken aback when I told him that I could remember when we only had three TV channels: BBC1; BBC2 and ITV and that they would all switch off sometime just after 11pm, after playing the national anthem.

I told him of how – in 1982 – I made a special effort to get home from work early, just so I could watch the launch of Channel 4.  I was so excited at the time: an extra TV channel! This was history in the making.

Of course, nowadays, new TV channels come and go regularly. Some have fleeting lives, lasting only a few months whilst others seem to go on forever, despite the niche audience they are targeted at.

For today’s generations, this is the norm: super-thin flat-screen TVs with a gazillion channels.

But for us old farts, four channels was always enough.

Some would say it still is.


  1. Alan

    Not to mention Sunday Night at the London Palladium, The Good Old Days & The Black and White Minstrels. Yep all watched on a b&w telly.
    I used to love watching the little white dot vanish into the middle of the screen.
    The younger generation don’t know what they are missing.

    • Masher

      Ahh, the dot!
      I reckon that modern tellies should have a “Nostalgia” setting, so that when when you switch it off, the picture doesn’t just go blank, but collapses into a small white dot that slowly fades away.

      Other options in the Nostalgia setting could be:
      Random ghosting from France Y/N?
      Taxi breakthrough on the audio Y/N?
      Just the 4 legacy channels Y/N?
      15 minute warm up Y/N?
      Strange fizzling noise from rear of set Y/N?

      Onto a winner here. I’m gonna email Sony right now!

      • Alan

        Not forgetting picture roll from top to bottom. For the uneducated, frame hold.
        You could be on to a winner there Mr Masher.

  2. David Sheriton

    Of course, some of us are old enough to remember just the two channels!

    Ah, the good old vertical and horizontal hold. Contrast. 405 lines before switching to 625. Just explaining to kids you had to get up and turn the sound up and down is enough to amaze them. Back then, even being a couch potato kept you fit you were up and down so often.

    • Masher

      TV remote controls were wondrous things when they first came out, not least because they were wired and you had a cable stretched across the room. A trip hazard, for sure.
      Then came the ultrasonic ones that drove all the cats and dogs mad.
      Then infra-red came along and they haven’t really progressed much since then.

  3. Brennig

    I work with such a youngster. Explaining pre-Internet life to her meets nothing but incredulity. However, here’s a thing… I find I am watching almost no ‘traditional’ television any more. It’s not that I’m watching stuff on catch-up, it’s just that the BBC1, BBC2, ITV, C4 (etc) stations broadcast crap that I’m just not interested in

    • Masher

      I know what you mean.

      If you can find it on catch-up, I heartily recommend The Detectorists.
      Three series so far (with the first one being the best, imho), it’s a gentle humour, beautifully shot with wonderful acting. I think you’d like it.
      Even worth buying as a box set from Amazon, I reckon.

      • Brennig

        I shall checkit (as the kids say), believe

  4. Toffeeapple

    Sigh – I am old enough to remember just one channel…

    • Masher

      The one between us and France? 🙂

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