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Nice to See it, to See it, Nice: The 1970s in Front of the Telly: Bk. 4 Paperback – 2 Feb 2009
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The 1970s was not just the decade of power-cuts and three-day weeks, of Chopper bikes and Spacehoppers, of kipper ties and bad perms, of Abba and the Bay City Rollers ...it was also the decade of Fawlty Towers and Porridge, A Bouquet of Barbed Wire and I, Claudius, The Sweeney and Starsky and Hutch. There was no such thing in those days as Wacky Warehouses or Playstations or even video recorders; for its entertainment, the nation switched on the telly. Some programmes, such as The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, were practically part of the national psyche, while some characters -- such as Benny from Crossroads and Olive from On The Buses -- became the unlikeliest of icons. Watching the box will never again be the collective experience it was then, and Brian Viner, in this hilarious and affectionate memoir, pays tribute to an era in televison -- the forgettable as well as the memorable -- which happily coincided with his own formative years.
About the Author
Brian Viner was born in 1961 and grew up in Southport, Lancashire. He was the Mail on Sunday's award-winning television critic between 1995 and 1999, since when he has been a columnist on the Independent. He lives with his family in Herefordshire.
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Nice to See It is effectively the Proustian recollections of the author’s childhood as remembered through images projected on a cathode ray tube screen display or, as we called it then, the idiot box. There is little commentary about the actual merits of the programming because that was not the aim. It is a just a personal delve into the plays, comedies, series, actors and actresses, adverts and music that ignited the reminiscences of the author’s rather banal young life in Southport. That banality is the point. I was living a similarly banal life in South Tottenham at the time and everything that he relates is either remembered/familiar/ridiculed/loved/despised by me or a million others like us who grew up in the last era of shared TV viewing-with-the-family. Looking in hindsight it is hard to determine whether or not it was the much vaunted Golden Era of television (it is true that there were some memorable one-off plays before the suffocating executive meddling in content to come) or simply a time when we had little choice but to watch tame sofa sitcoms, fading variety acts, insane game shows and formulaic American cop shows.
This book is a gentle, thoughtful, anecdotal, and light-hearted take on the sillier side of the era and will surely be loved by its target readers, namely 70’s TV and culture devotees and enthusiasts. However, the most terrifying passages were those that eulogised the presenter Stuart Hall and recounted with misty eyes the public information safety programmes fronted by Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris! There was another side to some 1970’s ‘celebrities’.
'Nice to see it' is a shamelessy nostalgic book about TV in the 1970's. In it the author hasn't set out to write about the best programmes of the 1970's, instead he has written about the programmes that he remembered watching as a boy growing up in that decade. Being a schoolboy these were usually either the programmes that his parents deemed suitable for him to watch, or were programmes that his friends at school watched, and so he had to watch them as well in order to not be left out when they discussed the show at school next day. While this means that many of the big programmes from the era - Fawlty Towers, The Generation Game, Dads Army, The Sweeney etc - are included, others which are today remembered as classics, such as `MASH', `Rising Damp' and `The Two Ronnies' don't get a mention. These ommissions though, do not detract from the book in the slightest.
The result is a very entertaining book, packed with stories both about the programmes and their stars and about the events in the authors life during the time when the programmes were broadcasted.
I loved this book, as I suspect everybody that grew up watching TV in the seventies will do too.
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