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on 12 August 2011
I really enjoyed this book. I read it in a week - which is very quick for me. I'd recommend it. Do you want to know what happened to Petra the Blue Peter dog? What drove Zammo to take heroin? Or, what happened in the Falklands War? There's a lovely mix in this book between the shared experience of having just 3 - and then 4 - TV channels, and autobiographical detail. The format's good too, with 'adverts' interleaved between the chapters. I used to love the adverts, although I never saw the one where Morecambe & Wise advertised Atari. The books a great mix of stuff I'd forgotten I knew and stuff I never knew. Put on your headband, turn up the Jan Hammer and enjoy!
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on 17 January 2013
If I'd watched a lot less telly in my life and read more books then I'd probably worry less about the price of a lb of mince than I currently do.

What a stroke of luck finding a book about telly. Booky people are often quite snooty about it, apart from the ones who earn bundles in both, so I found this a really refreshing read. I laughed out loud a lot. The 80s was actually the decade when I watched the least TV in my life. I left school at the beginning and was married and a mother by the end. Still I found much to be nostalgic about and also picked up some tips on what I missed.

I loved the child's eye view and insight on family life in the good old days when homes had one TV and everyone called it a 'set'. I was reminded of so many family TV moments shared, like in the seventies, and how everything was discussed at school the next day. I like how the author grew up alongside television itself -- there was much more to learn about the changes than the number of channels. This is a social commentary on the decade too with the history of the decade and how it was viewed.

One to keep. I would read it again but there's quite a lot of factoids so could be handy in a family argument.
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on 2 February 2011
I'm sure you remember, a few years ago, there was a spate of nostalgia programmes, most of them I think on Channel 4, with names like `I love the 70s', `The Hundred Best TV moments of the 80s', `I love that bit 15 minutes ago they haven't given a name to yet', and `Your All Time Greatest Test Cards'. The trend for nostalgia about things that we didn't think much of the first time seems to be slightly in abeyance now. But never fear! Because, through the technological breakthrough known as `Pay-per-view'... sorry, I mean `Paper-view', you can relive all your favourite 80s TV moments, like, you known, when that thing happened on Neighbours, and JR said that thing on Dallas, and the shoulder pads eh? And goodness didn't we laugh?

OK, I'm being unfair. Just like `I love the 80s', `All in the Best Possible Taste' was clearly intended as a bit of fun, and not high art, and that's what it is. If you enjoyed that sort of nostalgia-fest, there's a fair chance you'll enjoy this too.

But it does suffer from three problems. Firstly, I'm afraid to say it's not actually that funny. A lot of the humour involves rather heavy handed riffs on what a lot has changed in 30 years. `Can you believe we only had three TV channels!?! I mean, less than four?!!?! Until Channel 4 of course. And we didn't know what a mobile phone was??! Isn't that amazing!?!! And did I mention the shoulder pads??!' Given that the book is subtitled `Growing Up Watching TV in the 80s', there's very little here about the growing up bit. Usually I'd say that was a good thing - I'm getting fed up with reading books by journos who think that, because they've squeezed something about pop-music, or football, or Dr Who or something genuinely popular into the title, this gives them carte blanche to go on endlessly about their dull lives, like we care. But in Bromley's case, it's actually a bit of a shame, because the details of his childhood turn out to be some of the funniest bits of the book. His description of visits to pre-McDonald's fast food outlets did indeed make me laugh out loud.

Secondly, it's a bit of a list. For example, Bromley will talk about, say, sit-coms, and he'll have to run through all the sit-coms he can remember from the 80s, in a sort of `oh, and then there was that one... and do you remember whatsit... oh, and who can forget...' way. This relentless production of lists means that parts of the book resemble York Passnotes on 80s culture.

Which brings me to the third, and related, problem - there's not a lot here that you don't already know, as least if you remember the 80s (and if you don't, why are you buying it? Research?) The potted descriptions of soaps and sitcoms tend towards basic plot overviews, and rarely deviate from the mainstream - Dallas and Dynasty, Grandstand, Neighbours, East Enders, Blackadder and the Young Ones. All well and good, but I was hoping for something more obscure - to be reminded of the programmes I'd forgotten or at least to learn something new about the ones I hadn't.

That, in a nutshell, is why (as another review points out) this book isn't nearly as good as Brian Viner's account of 70s viewing - `Nice to see it, to see it nice'. Viner is a professional TV reviewer. He sits at the feet of the Gods. I mean, he plays golf with Brucie for goodness sake. Bromley is a novelist.

Anyway, buy this if you enjoy things like `I heart the 80s' and want a few hours of nostalgic distraction. But, like so much of 80s programming itself, it's ultimately throwaway.
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Whereas most of us can now settle down and make a choice of TV programme from dozens of different channels just thirty years ago we had just three. Despite this this book about TV in the eighties reminds us that we weren't exactly short for choice. We had memorable homegrown drama in Brideshead Revisited, Boys from the Blackstuff and the Singing Detective, groundbreaking comedy in Blackadder, the Young Ones and Yes Minister and also programmes like Dallas, Dynasty from the States. There was also plenty of dross as well of course, but as today, if we didn't like it we didn't have to watch it.

In the eighties author Tom Bromley was a young boy growing up in York, and it is clear that watching TV formed a very important part his life and the one eyed box in the corner was an integral part of the family. In this book Bromley writes about many of the programmes that he enjoyed in the eighties and blends these with his recollections of his childhood. This makes a very entertaining mixture; it is fun to remember those programmes that we watched all those years ago and whilst I could be critical in stating that Bromley isn't critical enough in his overviews of these programmes (he largely chooses to simply describe the programmes rather than give his opinions of them) most of what he has to say is spot-on, although I find it difficult to believe that anybody could like the sugary sit-com Just Good Friends but dislike the Two Ronnies!

I enjoyed this book and would have probably considered it excellent if I had not previously read [[ASIN:0743295854 Nice to See it, to See it, Nice: Bk. 4: The 1970s in Front of the Telly] Brian Viners book about TV in the seventies. This book is very similar to All in the Best Possible Taste, except that Viner's book is more entertaining, more informative and overall just that bit better.
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on 24 April 2016
I'm only halfway through but loving it so far... Very witty ( e.g. "Buck Rogers found himself in 2449 but fortunately for him, it was during a late 20th Century fasion revival" - LOL). Great nostalgia but I suspect the author paints himself as far more exasperating than he was in reality :-)
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on 27 August 2010
If you, like me, were convinced that TV was so much better in the old days, prepare to have your illusions shattered. This is a great book about growing up in the 80s, and not just watching TV, but living for it. Tom Bromley, as he cheerfully admits, was born to watch television and this memoir shows an unrivaled depth of knowledge on the subject. As well as covering the programmes we all know and love, it also dredges up memories of programmes that it's best not to remember. For me, the funniest chapters were the ones that dealt with game shows. How some of them made it on air is beyond me.

The book succeeds because it resists the temptation to use 80s TV as an easy target and is, instead, genuinely affectionate. There's also a lovely ending which I won't spoil for you. This is a book I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys great writing and a night in front of the box.
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2010
This is an odd one - and I'm tempted to suggest that's odd in a bad way, not odd in an interesting one - All In The Best Possible Taste is neither a full enough memoir of growing up in the Eighties told via TV viewing habits to fulfill that brief, nor is it a detailed enough over-view of what television actually was or amounted to during that decade to land on that shelf, either.

I'll give the author his due, it's a nice idea to tell the tale of one's youth via their TV tastes, but in order for that remit to work there has to be some story there to read. But Bromley's autobiography is hardly present (unless he did absolutely nothing between TV shows) and the TV analysis side of the outing is so utterly (and frustratingly) threadbare that you end up feeling less like you're actually reading a book than merely taking your eyes for a walk. There's no brain feed on offer, no decent laughs; just that sinking, sullied feeling akin to the guilt of having just wolfed a Big Mac.

Granted, I wasn't expecting, nor looking for, Open University here, but neither was I looking to get fudged over by a barely concealed lesson in nostalgia-hued exploitation. To me, Bromley's ode to the cathode reads more like the frustrated scripting of a wannabe, touting yet another no-brainer TV nostalgia clip-show; one that gets rejected even by Five. For the puns are sub-tabloid, the choice is utterly pedestrian, and the hurt is finally rammed home by an author that feels it more important (like some drunken mate) to endlessly describe the very thing you're seeing (or once saw in the TV shows in question) than actually provide some kind of helpful context or background information.

Rather than actually place, say, the Young Ones and its players in to something approaching a useful frame, we just get a wiki-light skim of Ben Elton's step from Soho stand-up to Young Ones, and on to Black Adder (and that was almost as fast as the analysis in question). No real information, no insight, and far less context that you'd get on a rush-job fan site. I mean, you do have to question the intentions of a book about TV dealing with such a contentious era, when the author spends not even a quarter of a page discussing Only Fools & Horses, quickly followed by almost two pages describing cut-by-cut the opening title sequence for Dallas.

In short, All In The Best Possible Taste is a trashy, quickly knocked together cash-in. You'll know no more coming out of this book than you did going in, so I would avoid unless your life depends on it, or your accountant reckons you need to throw away some cash on 'research material' for fear of getting slapped with a huge tax bill.

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on 13 January 2013
A great read for all children of the eighties. Really easy to read, I rattled through it pretty quickly. Really enjoyed it.
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on 3 October 2014
I loved this - fresh, funny and informative without feeling like either a self-conscious 'memoir' or a history book.
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on 3 October 2014
Excellent review of the period,written with some amusing wit,would certainly look for other books by this author
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