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Fings ain’t what they used ter be …

There are those among the contributors to this organ – and probably also its readers – who are familiar with – and/or are even habitual visitors to – the Talking Pictures television channel whose particular raison d’etre is to broadcast popular British and other television programmes from the supposed “vintage” past.

Here I must confess that so far I personally have not been one of them, albeit that I am almost certainly bang slap in the Talking Pictures target demographic – in the sense that not only in three months’ time (if I make it) shall I be celebrating my 70th birthday, but in many respects I also look back with fond nostalgic memories upon many of the outstanding and/or popular television series of my relative youth whilst simultaneously finding much of today’s mainstream populist fare baffling, irrelevant to my life as it is lived and indeed totally unwatchable.

I accept that my attitude does come with its occasional attendant difficulties and/or complications – the bulk of them probably to be filed under the general heading “Most representations of popular culture are always ‘of their time’ and therefore ought be accepted as such, i.e. rather than held up for ridicule and/or banning under later ‘cancel culture’ strictures imposed from above”.

My standard “go-to” examples of what I’m referring to would be the song-and-dance staple peak time light entertainment series The Black And White Minstrel Show (BBC 1958-1967) and Love Thy Neighbour (ITV 1972-1976), neither of which even I would accept could be broadcast in 2020 – well, perhaps save as part of a documentary aimed at reviewing and/or demonstrating how British society has changed over the last 60 years and for the better.

That said, I assume that the Talking Pictures business model is partly based upon the classic capitalist notion that if one supplies what the public (or at least a sizeable proportion of it, most probably in Talking Pictures’ case those over the age of 50) wants but doesn’t yet readily have access to, you cannot go far wrong.

When it comes to senior citizens or those “of a certain age”, of course, those in scientific/medical and “later life” care professional sectors will know only too well that brain feebleness – whether it be degenerative or somehow temporary – may cause individuals to have weakened abilities to retain recent memories whilst simultaneously having superb recall of things that occurred thirty or more years previously.

Which is why these days care homes routinely mount “activities” for their residents such as trivia general knowledge quizzes – or indeed musical “singalong” sessions – specifically covering items from the period 1950-2000.

From that angle, at least, which sensitive individual concerned with caring for the elderly could take exception to the “service” that Talking Pictures is apparently set up to provide?

I found myself reflecting upon these issues when I came across this review by Roger Lewis of a new book by Rob Young called The Magic Box (Faber, £20, 500 pp) that appears today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL


About Bryn Thomas

After a longer career in travel agency than he would care to admit, Bryn became a freelance review of hotels and guest houses at the suggestion of a former client and publisher. He still travels and writes for pleasure. More Posts