Joe Moran’s Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV is a fantastic read in two ways: as a history of TV and as a social history of post-war Britain. I have a special interest in broadcasting but think this has much wider appeal. It’s very well-written, often funny, a terrific read.
Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV
I learned all sorts of wonderful factoids. Serendipitously, given that the late Colleen McCullough has been in the news recently, one was that the ending of the Thorn Birds in 1984 brought a rise of 2200 megawatts in electricity demand, the biggest in the history of the National Grid as the tearful nation went to make a nice cup of tea – until the 2800 megawatt surge at the end of the penalty shoot-out between England and Germany in 1990, when a stunned 8 minutes after Chris Waddle missed the goal a further reviving cuppa was required.
The Thorn Birds
Or that the 1990 edition of Delia Smith’s Christmas, showing a recipe for chocolate torte requiring liquid glucose, led to stocks not only in the UK but in the whole of Europe selling out. Which was as nothing compared to the Great Cranberry Shortage of 1995 – a time when cranberry juice could still be prescribed on the NHS as a treatment for cystitis.
Delia Smith’s Christmas
But as well as all the delicious facts, much thoughtful reflection on the shaping of the country in the latter half of the 20th century, the relationship between the regions and London, changing social mores (remember the effect of seeing David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, anyone?), the shifting quicksands of class in Britain, and much more. Highly recommended.
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars: 40th Anniversary Edition