I vividly remember the bulky wooden box we called a television set, back in the ’80’s before flat screens and Plasma’s freed up metres of living room space and removed the need for cumbersome TV tables and wall dividers (shudder). As much as some of us would like to forget those dark days, many are opting to stay in them (literally), with black and white sets reminiscent of ’50’s broadcasting.
While I can’t say that I prescribe to the school of thought that dictates the need for the biggest TV you can possibly fit through your front door, I have to say that I draw the line at monochrome. Even watching the news without colour would be a feat at this stage, never mind something particularly vivid like ‘The Real Housewives’ franchise or the Olympic Games Opening ceremony. The Guardian reported earlier this year that thousands (over 13,000 households to be exact) in the UK still use black and white TV’s as a means of cost-cutting. This would not be so shocking elsewhere in the world but the idea of thousands of Londoners relegated to the use of antique technology is quizzical. It’s been 46 years since colour broadcasting began in the UK but the £100 more that it costs to license a colour TV is enough to put many off paying the £145.50 versus just £49. If you ask me it’s money well spent and television and radio technology historian John Trenouth agrees that in many cases it’s not just the financial subsidy keeping the old sets alive. There is a great deal of ‘sentimentality’ involved in owning something so increasingly rare and special and continuing to use it as normal.
I can definitely see the romantic side of integrating a piece of history into your daily routine, especially if you ‘grew up’ with the box in question and remember watching that very set as a child. They are definitely sturdy machines, made in a time when you replaced technology every ten or so years but with the last analogue signals switched off and the country fully-digital, the ability to be nostalgic when it comes to technology will be greatly diminished and everyone will eventually have to step into the light whether they would like to or not.