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One of the many myths debunked in Joe Moran’s warm, witty cultural history of television is that there was ever a golden age. Quality has been sitting alongside dross ever since the first demonstrations of the ‘televisor’. Stitching together unpromising material – the vagaries of TV mast placement, assorted complaints from Disappointed of Tunbridge Wells – Moran creates a compelling and surprising patchwork of the nation through its viewing habits and rituals.
Apposite and often hilarious anecdotes bolster his case: those bemoaning today’s occasionally conservative TV commissioning climate may wish to consider Sky’s stillborn satellite rival BSB, which launched with a spoof sitcom called ‘Heil Honey, I’m Home!’ (Hitler and Eva Braun live next door to a Jewish couple – worth checking out on YouTube if you’ve got a strong stomach). ‘Armchair Nation’ may provoke nostalgia, but it’s never enslaved by it – it’s a timely and hugely entertaining assessment of a medium in flux.
Joe Moran's book 'Armchair Nation' is published by Profile on August 22 priced £16.99. Click here to buy a copy.