TV or not TV? What do people talk about if they don't watch telly?
Alison Graham asks, why anyone would choose to miss out on so much great TV?
There are some phrases that place a cold, dead hand of fear around my heart. Top of the list is “Have you read my blog?”, closely followed by “And now it’s time for Thought of the day”, with “Will you sign my petition” coming a very close third.
Actually, may I just revise that. Really, really at the super-top of the list is “I don’t have a television.” By choice! Can you imagine? There are people who don’t have tellies? What’s wrong with them? How can anyone not watch telly? It’s like saying “I choose not to breathe because I take all of my essential nutrients via osmosis from fairy dust.” Or, “I’ve decided not to eat because it messes up my mouth.”
I mean, come on. Who doesn’t watch telly? Oh, dear reader, there are such people. I have a passing, though mild, obsession with pretentious home interiors magazines that cost me a fortune, but which I read just once, so I can sneer. Which is well worth four quid of anyone’s money.
In one such magazine recently I read of a woman with a lovely house, all very white and tasteful. But, oh dear, what’s this: “[The owner] doesn’t own a TV”, so the “focus is on talking over a glass of wine.”
Hey, guess what. I own a telly and I can talk and drink wine all at the same time. It’s a special skill, like juggling or being able to do three- point turns. And as for juggling while doing three-point turns...
Of course the passive-aggressive undercurrent of that sentence is that the woman in the feature has much better things to do than watch television. Like talking over a glass of wine. Literally as well as figuratively, presumeably. You can’t talk under a glass of wine, or maybe you can. But you’d look strange.
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To this woman in her posh white house watching television is clearly a waste of time, she’d much rather talk, presumably to other people rather than a rabbit or a toy soldier. But what do they talk about if they don’t watch telly? (Poetry probably. Or cushions.) How many of your conversations revolve around what you watched last night? Or your friends’ recommendations of things you might enjoy?
If this woman watched televivion this week she’d have so much more to discuss. But as she doesn’t have a telly just look at what she’ll miss. Against the Law (Wednesday BBC4), a touching, angry drama from Brian Fillis about Peter Wildeblood (Daniel Mays) who was jailed in the 1950s for being gay.
Then there’s the new series of Top of the Lake (Thursday BBC2) which I well understand was so toweringly, ponderously pretentious the first time round that some of you would rather sit and watch a mouse paint a wall than endure a new series. But come on, it’s bold and beautiful in its own up-itself kind of way.
And what about ITV’s Long Lost Family (Wednesday ITV), the most life-affirming heartbreaking show on TV. And Poldark on BBC1, which this series has been so wonderful, so dark, layered and powerful.
You can learn about Alaska in Wild Alaska (Sunday BBC1) and remember those extraordinary few weeks after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in Diana Our Mother (Monday ITV).
Or, like an alarmingly high number of seemingly intelligent, well-adjusted people, you can watch the final of Love Island on ITV2. I can’t bring myself to say any more about this, except that you all need help.
So, my message to people without tellies is this: it is my public duty to urge you to consider exactly what you are missing by choosing to remain in ignorance of a world full of possibilities. The rest of us, we’ll talk, watch TV and drink our wine.