Mrs Slocombe's Pussy

Stuart Jeffries is a little younger than I am, but we both grew up in the UK watching pretty much the same programmes on TV. Too many to list here, but Bill & Ben, Are You Being Served?, The Liver Birds, Coronation Street, Steptoe and Son and Fanny Craddock should give you a good idea of what’s on offer.

This is no simple nostalgic celebration though. SJ isn’t writing just to sing the praises of what he saw. Reading it – and it’s very easy to read – is a lot like having a conversation with a friend who remembers them all and has been thinking about what they represented, what they told us about the society we were living in. He’s not always complimentary; his critiques of Are You Being Served? and Changing Rooms are harsh.

It’s also a meditation on a time where there was only BBC1 and 2, ITV and Channel 4, when there was a better than even chance that everybody had seen the same programmes you had and you didn’t even have to ask. A time before the digital explosion. (His predictions about what that would mean – the book was published in 2000 – are spot on: a gajillion channels and not a risk in sight.)

If you think the television of that era is worth more than a passing thought, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

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