Eddie Mair: I’m living in a TV time warp

As Frank Gallagher and Dougal McGuire entertain Eddie in the evenings, and Olivia Colman reduces him to tears at 6am, what current TV gold is he missing out on?

I started watching Shameless a full seven seasons after it began. Nurse Jackie, that exciting new show everyone was talking about years ago? Just getting into it. I am midway through season one of Father Ted, almost 20 years after it was first shown. Only now am I beginning to understand the Irish accents, “go on, go on”s and Craggy Island references that peppered conversations in the late 1990s. Suddenly that Inland Revenue campaign to get people to submit their tax returns makes sense.


I am fantastically late to anything hip and fashionable. Is the word “hip” hip? Hooray for me for not knowing.

My mild satisfaction in realising who Frank Gallagher is, weeks before the series comes to its final conclusion, is tempered by nagging doubts raised by my Shameless marathon. If I’m spending every evening whizzing through Chatsworth Estate box sets, what am I missing on TV now that people will be talking about tomorrow? Which of the current crop will I be belatedly catching up with on television in five years – if indeed television is still a thing in five years? Relaxing and watching TV can be so stressful.

Everything I watch is on time delay. I can’t recall the last occasion I saw “live” television. I’m still midway through season three of The Killing. Kirstie and Phil are wearing last season’s coats and I’m way behind on News at Ten. The most recent edition had a profile of the new Conservative leader, David Cameron. I’ve a feeling he’s going places.

This perpetual state of living in a TV time warp can be comforting. The people inhabiting my TV world are younger than they really are, prices are lower and hair is as unfashionable as mine. But I was rudely shaken from my comfy, grainy, 625-line world. The problem, in a word: Broadchurch.

I had set the magic box to tape the series and had greatly enjoyed the first two episodes, but it was impossible to fit in around my cycle of Frank/Jackie/Dougal McGuire. (Wait – do you think the McGuires know the Maguires?) I resolved to watch Broadchurch at a much later date. Simples. Again, a reference I am only now understanding. The problem with Broadchurch was this: I hadn’t reckoned on the murder mystery gripping the nation in quite the way it did. In the days leading up to the final episode, the papers were full of articles detailing the suspects. There was a frenzy of speculation that spilt onto Twitter and into real-life conversations.

The Monday of the final episode arrived and I still had six episodes to watch. With the same steely determination that saw world wars won and Everest conquered, I bravely hatched my masterplan. Four episodes on Monday night. Don’t look at Twitter or the internet before bed. No internet or social media upon waking, then the final two episodes before going to work.


And so it was that Olivia Colman had me in tears at 6am. My plan worked. Twitter would have given it away, as did a front-page photo of the killer in the Daily Mirror on the Tuesday. Wish me luck for the remaining 40 or so episodes of Shameless I must traverse before the end of May.