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This review is from: Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV (Hardcover)
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.