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4.0 out of 5 stars The TV in the Corner
This book is a fascinating history and evolution of The British Tv set in ANY book you will read on the subject.
Published 9 months ago by R. Howard

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Armchair Nation
In its early chapters the book is evocative and engaging - it does capture the early years of television very well and those of (at least) middle age will enjoy the unfolding drama of a brand new media landing, increasingly, in the homes of ordinary people for the first time. It is however a book of two parts - on page one the author tells us he was born at the beginning...
Published 13 months ago by Mr. M. Boniface


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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Armchair Nation, 12 Nov 2013
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In its early chapters the book is evocative and engaging - it does capture the early years of television very well and those of (at least) middle age will enjoy the unfolding drama of a brand new media landing, increasingly, in the homes of ordinary people for the first time. It is however a book of two parts - on page one the author tells us he was born at the beginning of the 70's - it is, perhaps, reasonable to assume that he couldn't bring a first hand critique to bear for another fifteen years or so. Unfortunately the moment the author has cogent memories the book goes downhill - prior to, it is a work of organised modern history and does quite well but once Moran has personal recollection it rather falls apart into the trite and obvious. One hardly needs to buy a hardback to be reminded of Gazza crying, Delia causing a run on cranberries or the nation staying up late to watch Taylor beat Davis. Television will always have these moments but they are not defining in the scheme of things and Moran fails to bring any in-site whatsoever to them. He might just have well have mentioned Attenborough with the gorillas or Angela Ripon high kicking - take your own personal pick.

The book is written in strict chronology which works well as early technology advances and unfolds but it leaves narrative strands untapped. There is virtually nothing about how politicians responded to television and how, given the fact that the title is 'Armchair Nation', how the viewer responded to the politician. There must have been something to say about how, in a television age, Sir Alec Douglas Hume, a patrician toff looking not dissimilar to Yorick's skull lost to a media savvy, Gannex'd man of the people, Harold Wilson, but apparently not - not when one has to get in the nail biting final between Will Young and Gareth Gates on Pop Idol.

Bright start, disappointing finish. Overall a distinct lack of penetrating insight and, in the latter stages, a compete loss of way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The TV in the Corner, 6 Mar 2014
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R. Howard "grandprize" (London,uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV (Kindle Edition)
This book is a fascinating history and evolution of The British Tv set in ANY book you will read on the subject.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If you've worked in TV Broadcasting: essential reading, is not endlessly interesting, 16 Aug 2014
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Totally fascinating; I immediately ordered several moree copies and gave them to my long-time colleagues in our industry (TV broadcasting)..
Endlessly entertaining in a relevant way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and engaging., 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV (Kindle Edition)
The quality of TV on the First World War has come along amazingly but only through this output could we now be getting such wonderful TV coverage.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trip down memory lane - Magical., 27 Sep 2013
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D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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I can still recall the day our family purchased its first colour television and the sheer sense of wonder this triggered following my formative years spent watching such classics as 'Watch with Mother', 'Captain Pugwash', 'Billy Bunter' and 'Mr Pastry'in black and white. That's just over half a century ago and much has changed in that time as this book so brilliantly reveals. Not only has programming changed fundamentally but as the author shows programmes have also changed us. Which isn't surprising given the centrality of the media not only to our culture but Western culture as a whole. There's a reason why some enthusiasts spot mistakes, such as TV aerials in programmes such as 'Downton Abbey' - its because they are now in such abundance, and this trend as the book explains started in the 1940s (not with the Coronation in 1953); although today the satellite dish has changed the shape and placement of aerials. The book shows how programmes, both good and bad, have influenced us over the years. The author does so in a highly engaging manner with numerous examples. This is both a witty and erudite cultural history which made me think more carefully about the past (and the validity of some of my memories about old TV programmes and what this might mean). The prose is fluent and if like me you are now a 'penshioner', then there's only one way I can describe this book: simply magical.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A more incisive approach is needed, 12 Jan 2014
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Malcolm Baird - See all my reviews
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There are two sorts of television history which do not mix very well.

Traditionally, television history has been written in technical terms, but such histories can place a heavy demand on the lay reader. More recently, histories have been centred on the television programmes and their impact on viewers. For example in 2005 the American PBS network broadcast a documentary entitled "Pioneers of Television" which was entirely about entertainers such as Milton Berle, Carol Burnett and Sid Caesar, with no mention of America's technical pioneers such as Zworykin and Farnsworth.

Joe Moran's new book helps us to bridge the gap between these two sorts of television history. Much of the early technical impact, in the UK anyway, centres around John Logie Baird's public demonstrations and experimental BBC broadcasts in the 1920s and early 1930s. But even as late as 1952, the BBC were only broadcasting television for 5-6 hours per day. The major growth in television was driven by two events; the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, and the start-up of independent television in 1955.

Moran describes the impact of television in terms of very readable anecdotes, among which he smoothly inserts some telling statistics. As the years wore on, the technology continued to improve, but its impact on viewers was gradually overlooked in comparison to the impact of the programmes themselves. Television reached a sort of plateau after the arrival of colour in the 1960s, but thirty years later the mass audience began to be fragmented, thanks to multi-channel developments; competition between broadcasters intensified.

Today the technology is more advanced than ever, with the demise of the cathode ray tube and the arrival of digital display, large flat screens, HDTV etc. However there is a groundswell of discontent about programme quality. There have been scandals about individuals who have abused their inflated status as "television celebrities". Questions have been asked about the enormous salaries and severance payments to senior executives. These aspects of television history have been rather soft-pedalled by Mr.Moran.

Television is 88 years old and it will continue to evolve. The old monolithic centralised broadcasting culture, epitomised by the BBC until a few years years ago, is being replaced by more interactive and individual forms of television. Joe Moran's book will help us to understand these complexities and the links between technology, economics and viewer impact; but a more incisive approach is needed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book..., 1 Aug 2014
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Excellent book sent very quickly. Many thanks.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 13 Jan 2014
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Cannot overdo my recommendation!! Marvellous scholarshp and entertaining as well. What else can I say but go for it now/
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the Tin, without Keeping you Glued, 24 Aug 2014
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Generally a very good account of TV’s arrival and impact. (I confess to a minor quibble with the small and faint font, meaning I struggled to read unless the lighting was excellent). In orthodox style the book takes us through events in chronological order with a gentle nod to wit and warmth, though not in Bill Bryson’s class. For example, the first big programme for colour TV was the Black & White Minstrel show, left by this author for the irony to speak for itself. Enjoyable without being a page turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Dec 2014
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Well researched.
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