Sarah Millican: Who says telly is bad for kids?

"I once kissed a boy at my first job because he offered to record the Oscars for me," says Millican

I’m old enough to remember the days when you actually missed your favourite programme. Missed it. And cried. Possibly because you were a child, but not always. Then came video recorders, but being the youngest and smallest person in the house gave you very little clout when discussions as to what would be recorded came up.

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But then as you got older and video recorders became cheaper and not always the size of a dining table, parents would inevitably upgrade and first your sister and then you would get an old giant grey top loader full of possibilities. We had never figured out how to set the timer on this one, but if you had a four-hour blank tape, you could record the whole night on long play and watch the fuzziness with glee whenever you like. Or not at all.

I was obsessed with films as a kid and so recorded as many as I could. I spent all my pocket money and any money earned by doing extra chores on blank videos for my burgeoning cinema. I tried to group the films together, so Douglas Sirk films were on one tape and Westerns on another. Three Men and a Baby had been purchased as it was a classic, obviously. I also had tapes full of episodes of Cheers (Woody and Rebecca era as I couldn’t abide Coach) and everything Phillip Schofield had ever done was recorded for future viewings. My new bed had drawers underneath that were built with bedding storage in mind. Mine were full of videos recorded off the telly. Alphabetised and labels facing out. They’d been moved from the shelves above my head when they’d collapsed with the weight. I was underneath them at the time but had managed to escape unscathed – just reminded that I had recorded An Affair to Remember as it landed on my head.

The drawers under my bed struggled with the weight too and invariably came off their rollers once I’d decided which film I’d watch. And had to be lifted back on and slid in. Who says telly is bad for kids? It gave me good arm muscles from the age of ten.

Thank God recording things is easier now. And that I have access to more channels. I once kissed a boy at my first job because he offered to record the Oscars for me. It was on a cable channel at daft o’clock in the morning and he suggested he start recording when he went to bed with a four-hour tape on long play. I was jumping when he handed the tape back and got all the way through it until the final award for Best Picture. And the winner is: click, whirr whirr whirr of the tape rewinding itself back.


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Three of my favourite television programmes are on right now: Downton Abbey, Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake off. 


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The Sarah Millican Television Programme is on Tuesday BBC2 at 9.30pm. Sarah’s stand-up DVD, Thoroughly Modern Millican Live is available at radiotimes.com/dvdshop.