How I became a telly addict
As ever, affiliate links are marked with *
Last Friday, as we do every Friday, we put on our pyjamas and snuggled down for our Friday night BBC 2 family binge.
There was a time, not so long ago, where we didn’t even have a telly, let alone watch it. I was snooty about scheduled TV, and tv generally.
Oh foolish person of my past!
Okay, there is a lot of dross. But there is some cracking telly available.
(picture copyright BBC)
Friday night is two hours of bliss – with Mastermind, followed by Only Connect, and then topped off with Gardeners’ World.
This also takes me back to my childhood when I would watch Mastermind with my parents and get bored to tears while they watched Gardeners World.
(That was before Monty Don and his soothing tones. If there is one person I’d like around in a crisis – horticultural or otherwise – it’s Monty Don. Or in other words, as I shamelessly like to tell Chiswick Daddy, Monty can prop up my hollyhocks any time).
Funnily enough, my parents also had a love hate relationship with the telly.
For years we didn’t have one and I’d enviously hear my friends talking about tv programmes at school.
Then we got one, and I binged with my brother on 80s American imports – *Knight Rider, *Street Hawk, *Air Wolf (basically if it had a vehicle that my brother could drool over and some macho hero that I could drool over – it was a winner.)
(Picture copyright Knight Rider)
Then my parents would decide it was all too much and get rid of the telly again.
This ‘having a telly’, ‘not having a telly’ dance went on for many years
Until in the middle of a long ‘no telly’ stint, I was given a portable black and white one for my 15th birthday.
I kept it in pride of place next to my bed. I’d read as usual every night, and then switch on my telly to binge again on American imports – this time anything with cops and guns was a winner.
(Picture copyright Miami Vice)
When Chiswick Boy was born we didn’t have a telly and I was adamant that he would never watch telly
I had a list of films for him to watch at various ages as part of his cinematic education – from *Karate Kid (he’s now seen it) to Aliens *Aliens (one of the only sequels much better than the first – but it will be a many a year before I let Chiswick Boy watch it!)
(Picture copyright The Karate Kid)
But even so – yes, I was adamant he would never watch telly.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh foolish mother you.
This was of course before I’d learnt the C word.
CBeebies that is. And its many savioured ways – not least that exercise in surreal landscapes that is In the Night Garden.
I knew I was really in trouble when I started box setting my way through Charlie & Lola on BBC IPlayer on my own during my son’s nap time.
Then in the evening Chiswick Daddy and I would offset the exhaustion of early parenthood with complete DVD boxsets of sci fi.
*Babylon 5 came first (the complete DVD set was almost £100 and was my becoming a dad present to Chiswick Daddy).
(Picture copyright Babylon 5)
From there it was a natural progression to *Battlestar Galactica (the remake not the 1970s version); Lost*Lost (not really sci-fi but close). And my all time favourite – *Charmed. (I unashamedly cried buckets at the last episode, not because of the content but because it was the end of the television show that had seen me through a massive break up, a change of career, a new romance and my surprise and much beloved pregnancy. I’m still considering getting the insignia from the series tattooed on my wrist. You may judge!)
Then we moved back to London and couldn’t get a tv signal any more.
At the same time I realised it was possible to buy DVDs of all the beloved telly from my early childhood (in the ‘having a telly’ bits of it). So into our house came DVDs of *Bagpuss, *Chorlton and the Wheelies,*Trumpton, *The Flumps.
(Picture copyright The Flumps)
Then just as we realised we were sitting on thousands of pounds worth of DVDs, Netflix came along.
The sheer luxury of having all those boxsets available on tap was euphoric.
We could watch Star Trek from the beginning; and I could make Chiswick Daddy watch the *Dallas remake with me. I could secretly binge on *90210, and I could make Chiswick Daddy watch the *Gilmore Girls with me.
(Picture copyright The Gilmore Girls)
And our growing Chiswick Boy could use his allocated screen time to boxset his own way through Spongebob, Horrid Henry and *Horrible Histories.
As a family the three of us have been box setting through Doctor Who (from *David Tennant onwards and we’re now a good way through *Peter Capaldi) and *Red Dwarf. We’ve done *Fawlty Towers of course, but keep on coming back to them. Two seasons of perfection that are as funny for Chiswick Boy as they were when I watched them with my parents.
(Picture copyright BBC DVD)
Getting Amazon Prime was the next milestone. Chiswick Boy and I could box set Just Add Magic (An Amazon original) together.
Then I realised that with judicious marking of the tv schedule in the weekend papers, I could use scheduled telly as a way to mark our passage through the week.
Now Mondays is about University Challenge, while Fridays as I mentioned is the two hour blissful whammy of Mastermind, Only Connect and Gardeners’ World.
(Picture copyright BBC)
Saturday is cheesy tv night – Cannonball (silly people throwing themselves off silly heights equals infinite entertainment), followed by the Family Chase. Wonderful.
And as if that wasn’t enough, today I’ve read that a remake of Dynasty is coming to Netflix on Thursday. My autumn is complete.
Here are my top five tips for making the best use of telly. They’re subjective and preachey – so excuse my judgey pants, make yourself some popcorn and read on, tv control at the ready:
- Never ever have the telly on in the background. We work out what we want to watch in advance, and switch it on.
- Netflix is brilliant but can be overwhelming as there’s just so much on there. The My List function lets you add stuff to a shortlist. Take some time building this up and then when you want to choose something to watch you already have a shorter, personally curated list to draw from.
- Scour the weekend TV supplement for great new dramas on BBC and Netflix.
- Don’t waste time on bad telly – for every great programme there are a dozen more bits of dross. I never waste time on a second episode when the first one hasn’t been perfect.
- In complete contradiction to point 4, loads of great series don’t get brilliant until later – Battlestar Galactica, Lost and Babylon 5. Reserve your judgement until episode three at least.
Are you a telly addict? Scheduled tv or streaming? What are your top picks?