Television Tales: 2000s

This week we are continuing my meander around television through the decades. Television, that cultural icon sitting in the corner of most people’s lounges, which has been blamed for all sorts of degeneracy over the years – until the internet came along and pinched that mantle. Previously, we’ve looked at the very early days, up to the 1950s; the 1960s; the 1970s; the 1980s; and the 1990s. This time, we are going to look at the 2000s.

Flat screen monitors were invented in Japan in 1964, but only in the 2000s did they became financially within the reach of most people. There was also a growing trend for households to have more than one device and therefore for different members of the family to view according to their tastes at the same time. Televisions started to appear in the bedroom, in the kitchen – even in the bathroom. I was still doing a lot of international travel in those days and I certainly favoured any hotel where it was possible to watch TV while lying in the bath.

Other significant televisual events during this decade were the launch of Freeview and More4; and the demise of the ITV News Channel and SixTV. In 2007, BBC iPlayer was launched, a pivotal moment in terms of viewing behaviour. No longer did we have to record programmes if we were going to be otherwise engaged at the time of transmission. The viewers were now in charge of when they watched any given programme.

In 2005, after an absence of sixteen years, Dr Who returned to our screens and although we seem to be getting through incarnations at a great rate of knots – we are currently on the fifth in fifteen years – I’m delighted to say he, or should I say she, is still with us.

One noticeable aspect of TV in the 2000s was the huge rise in reality shows, and their celebrity spin-offs. This decade saw the debut of Big Brother, Pop Idol, Strictly Come Dancing, X-Factor, The Apprentice, Dancing On Ice, Britain’s Got Talent – the list just goes on. Ant and Dec headed off to the outback for the first time to host I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Not only is the viewing public involved in choosing when they watch their programmes, they have a major hand in the content of many programmes as well.

I was asleep in my hotel room in Kazakhstan on 11th September 2001 when my husband rang me. I was woozy at being awoken unexpectedly and he had to tell me everything three times before I finally got the message and switched on the TV. Having to watch the horror of the day which has become known simply as 9/11 without the benefit of English commentary or even subtitles made everything somehow even starker and at that point I really did understand the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me, as for so many people, the toppling of the twin towers in New York is my televisual memory of all time. 

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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