Saturday, 18 September 2010

TV Times

I was watching telly the other day. Nothing new there one might think, except I was watching daytime telly. And daytime telly, to me, is wrong. A forbidden fruit, a guilty pleasure, possibly only allowed during periods of ill health. Who would admit they found themselves with nothing to do so rather than sit in the winged reading chair, reading, or doing a spot of yoga, or learning Mandarin or mulling over the knotty problems of the Palestinians, they'd stretched out on the sofa and watched telly? I watched a show with a very large Michael Ball interviewing a very large Dom Jolly. I'm not really sure of the purpose of Dom Jolly. I think he made a show with a very large phone but I missed it. Anyway, then a very large Clarissa Dickson Wright (unbelievably a year younger than Patti Smith........) cooked something that looked delicious, and they ate it (while I lived in New York me and my gay best friend were obsessed with Two Fat Ladies which we would watch every night at 11.30, he was Clarissa and I was the other one.....). The show was sort of rubbish but with a cup of tea and a Chunky Kitkat I was quite enjoying it, partly because it seemed so wrong......on so many levels. The fact that it actually has a name, 'daytime telly', means it's different. Different from nighttime telly. Even if the show was originally shown at nighttime. Because I come from an age when daytime telly was watched only by the under 5s, unemployed or over 60s. And students. And it was not the smorgasbord of delights it is today. Honestly, it was Sesame Street, Crown Court, a show called Whose Baby, where famous .....ish folk would parade their kids in front of the panel who then had to guess.......whose baby (this would probably be deemed some kind of child abuse today), and Through The Keyhole, not so much Come Dine With Me as come live with me. America had tons of daytime telly and tons of channels to chose from which we all wanted but as we all knew, American TV was devoid of taste, culture and quality because of it. Not like us. And then we got Richard and Judy.

The show wasn't actually called Richard and Judy back then but something like Good Morning. However, the irresistible husband and wife combo soon proved to be the most entertaining thing on it. They flung the door of their private life wide open and we were invited into their domestic bliss, life with the twins, homework, lifting, they were really just like us. Oh how we laughed at Richard's now legendary faux pas, Judy berating and contradicting him in equal measures. And so, the double act of 'Richard & Judy' was born and ran and ran and ran. I was on the show once. I say 'on', it was more a voice over. Having newly returned to England from the Americas, where the TV guide was the size of a Reader's Digest, and being without gainful employment, I was helping a friend run her stall at Spitelfield's Market. She had a handmade greeting card empire and on the run up to Christmas, the Market, quite a different scene then than the one they have now, decided to open during the week, instead of just Sundays. So, I too set about making my own wares (4 years at art college not wasted) and had a fine selection of cards and decorations to flog along with those of my friend. Not being a stranger to market work, I was well aware of the mind-numbing, finger-freezing, toe-throbbing cold that permeates one's entire being about eight minutes after you've set out your stall. So there I was, clad in my many layers of wool, topped-off with the deeply unattractive but ever so warm puffy-jacket (an item of clothing everyone in New York wears to get through the icy winters but does render you a shoo-in for the Michelin Man), a large fluffy white hat that came down over my eyes and a thick home-knit scarf that came up over my nose. Attractively attired and hunkered down on a fishing stool, I was surprised by a chirpy young woman with a microphone and a camera poking over her shoulder looming up before me and announcing:
"I'm from Richard & Judy, we're doing a piece about Christmas Markets......"
So, despite being new to Spitelfields, I talked of the camaraderie amongst me and my fellow traders, the notion of enterprise and of course, the spirit of Christmas ........presents. And thought nothing of it. Until that is all sorts of friends and acquaintances rang me up to say that my nose had been momentarily glimpsed in close up on Richard & Judy, while my musings about the marketeers rang out over the wide shot........ although of course, they never actually watched daytime telly, it just so happened that just as they were changing the video for their tiny children/tuning in for the lunchtime news/dusting too vigorously causing the telly to spontaneously turn on............ it was that precise moment.

Top tip: Mad Men......if I have to explain it you'll never get it.


  1. Lovely post, as usual.
    We only get a handful of channels as we are too stingy to pay for cable. On a good day, with the rabbit ears twitching, we can get 1 cartoon channel and 3 religious channels with perfect reception. Must be the hand of God, or Rush Limbaugh.

  2. Daytime telly is a mortal sin - like dipping your chocolate flake into your hot chocolate. A Guilty pleasure ;-)

    There is no point in phoning my mother at certain times of the day because she's either hard-wired to The Wright Stuff or deeply embedded in QVC.

    I think I might buy her a puppy - get her out the house more ;-)

    Ali x

  3. When I had my kids and didnt work and Lorraine Kelly became my bestr friend - thats when I knew I had to get out and meet people!! I still cannot believe to this day that people like Richard and Judy (and plenty more like them) get paid wads of cash for churning out such garbage!) Can you remember "Houseparty" in the 60's? Now that was quiality.

  4. A brilliant read and one that touched on so many notes though I do like the thought of being in my late thirties and could actually only be living my late twenties??

    Have a lovely evening,

    Nina xxx

  5. Dear Jo, I loved this post. I remember all those old programmes, ooh yes Crown Court. I also remember The Sullivans, some other ancient Aussie soaps, Pipkins... and I loved a bit of Whose Baby and Through The Keyhole. It's no good anymore. The houses are boring and they have quite dull people on. The audience don't even know who they are.

    I've watched all the reruns of Two Fat Ladies on UK Gold. Can you tell I love TV.

    The Good Morning interview at Spitalfields sounds hilarious. I hope you have a copy.

    Let's make a date soon xx

  6. I loved reading this you really jogged my memory.Crown Court reminds me of being off school and lying on the sofa watching it,a guilty pleasure.My mother still regards daytime Telly as debauched though strangely my grandparents used to love it.They particularly liked Whose Baby which they constantly referred to as'Whose baby are you' it used to annoy the he'll out of me ,how intolerant.They also used to love that detective in the raincoat,can't remember his name.Must be going senile.

  7. Thanks for the blog visit...sorry about the tarantula!

    I feel guilty watching TV during the day's guilty pleasure that I rarely allow.

  8. Dear Jo, there's a blog tag over at mine for you xx

  9. I loved the fat ladies who sort of made me cringe at the same time!
    Sort of caricatures of people who might be ME!!!
    I do miss London.

  10. Hello, I'm going to wait patiently for you to make some more excellent Patti Smith references.