Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Before Hardy had written a word

This week’s Radio Times has a piece by me called ‘The day that changed television forever’ about the televising of the coronation, which took place 60 years ago on Sunday. It being a special Coronation-themed issue, I’m sandwiched between an interview with David Dimbleby and a recipe for Mary Berry’s Coronation Cake.

It’s a little reflected-upon fact that quite a lot of the people who watched television in those earliest days would have grown up in the late nineteenth century. What on earth did these late Victorians make of this new idiot’s lantern? Ronald Blythe’s grandmother, born in 1860 ‘before Hardy had written a word’, lived long enough ‘to glimpse our first television set, a sturdy affair with the lines of a fruit machine’. Arthur Perry, born in 1869, simply took the television set for granted: ‘He never said, “Isn’t it amazing!” or “It’s a miracle!” and in his eighties, he used to sit in front of the telly and grumble about the rotten programmes. “It’s about time they got some new stuff on,” he’d say.’ Arthur Perry was the father of Jimmy Perry, the co-writer of Dad’s Army, and this quote is taken from the latter’s memoir, Stupid Boy.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't grow up in the late nineteenth century but I do remember sitting with over a hundred primary schoolchildren watching the coronation on a tiny screen in the Town Hall. I thought then. as I think now, that it wasn't a patch on watching Zorro or The Lone Ranger at the Saturday matinee in the local cinema. And there was ice-cream.