Television Tales: 2010s
This week we conclude 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; the 1990s; and the 2000s. This time, we are coming right up to date with the decade we have just finished.
For the first time since the Coronation in 1953 started driving people towards installing a TV in their homes, the number of sets in the UK is falling. This doesn’t reflect a reduction in viewing figures of course; more an increase in choice, with increasing numbers of people watching on devices such as tablets or smart phones. The digital switch-over was completed in 2012 as the final analogue transmitters were switched off. Other changes included the introduction of High-Definition broadcasting. The arrival of streaming systems such as Netflix again increased the viewer’s choice both of programme and timing.
This has been a decade of anniversaries, with Dr Who, Top Of The Pops and Match Of The Day all celebrating 50 years since their debut appearances. Coronation Street has also been around for 50 years, and even its younger cousin EastEnders turned 25 in 2010. The hugely popular Downton Abbey became part of our Sunday night viewing. And in 2010, we followed the US example as a series of head-to-head leaders’ debates were televised ahead of the General Election.
Back in July 2005, I was standing in the middle of a crowd in Victoria Square, Birmingham, watching the news that London was to host the 2012 Olympics. The following day, the country’s euphoria was wiped away by the terrorist bombings on the London transport system. During the following seven years, there were moments of hope, and excitement, tempered with doom-laden warnings that the site wouldn’t be ready in time. But on 27th July 2012 we shared with the crowds in the Olympic Stadium an opening ceremony that managed to be exuberant without being tacky. Even Her Majesty the Queen joined in the fun; and who wouldn’t want to accept a lift from James Bond, aka Daniel Craig. We had just over two weeks of thrilling sports right on our doorstep, saw our sportsmen and women win 65 medals, and then had a huge party for the closing ceremony. A couple of weeks later, we did it all again for the Paralympics where Team GB did even better, winning a massive 120 medals in total. And that six weeks of sport, which must surely have touched even the most hardened of critics, was shared by so many of us through our phones, our tablets, our TVs, either live or on catch-up. A truly great celebration not only of our sport, but of the wonder that is television.