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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 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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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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VINE VOICEon 11 September 2010
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 September 2016
Indulge me, I was born in 72, in the last few years I both lost my Mum, became a Dad and moved to a new country. I found suddenly I had a massive thirst for my childhood, to hear the songs, watch the movies, see the toys. A psychiatrist would charge me good money to say I was grieving and wanted to feel comfort in my own memories, the one thing still mine, the one thing not dead, sold nor left behind. So I bought this book and my god did it help. Tom has a real down the pub style, he talks about the shows, the adverts, even 80s 'life'. I loved the bit where the new TV felt like a family event and the new set felt like an 'intruder' such was the devotion and fondness they had for the old set of 10 years, a bit like losing a family friend. I actually emailed Tom to say thank you for the book and how I enjoyed it. He was very kind to reply. An easy criticism was it didn't include 'this/that'... but for me the only downer was it had to end at all, I could have gone on. ...and on.. And on....
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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 fashion revival" - LOL). Great nostalgia but I suspect the author paints himself as far more exasperating than he was in reality :-)

Now, I'm three quarters through it (yes, I don't get to read it often!) and it's still brilliant.... The author surely did a lot of research as if he remembers some of that detail in his head, he REALLY needs to get out more :-) It's hysterical, witty and nostalgic in equal measures. I feel like we might have been friends in the 80s !
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on 1 October 2015
Really good book that brings back memories of all the shows from the early mid 80's, as well as snippets from the authors time growing up in these years and wittily written. But I noticed a few errors, when talking about the ad where the guy holds up boards with the wrong lyrics on for 'the Isrealites' song he says this ad was for Maxell tapes but I remember this ad being for Vitalite. Also when talking about Bullseye he says the final star prize game was to score 101 with 9 darts so it was amazing the contestants hardly won, but it was with 6 darts, and Anita Dobbs(who she?) played Angie in Eastenders. Apart from that a big thumbs up and a really fun read.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2010
It's hard to believe that there was a time when British television had only three channels to offer. Modern-day grumpy old men - and women - would have us believe in a halcyon era of super quality programmes, top entertainment that would put today's broadcasters to shame. Well, young Bromley is here to shatter that myth - and he does so with brilliance. His recollection of game-shows is little short of hilarious and makes the reader wonder how Bullseye, The Golden Shot or 3-2-1 ever made it in development beyond the back of a wine-stained napkin.
This book works well on several levels. The TV analysis and anecdotal memories are spot on. In among the genuinely laugh-out-loud funny recollections and forensically-detailed analysis of TV dross are the descriptions of timeless gems such as Blackstuff, Brideshead, and Blackadder (and that's just the Bs). Bromley is a master of light-touch writing, subtly resisting the pitfall of heavy-handed critique. His descriptive style is lucid and that is enough to make it clear which shows he loved, and which made him squirm. But, for me, the level on which it works best - and which sets it apart from other looking-back-at-telly memoirs - is when Bromley cleverly interweaves memories of his teenage years into the stories. It is a touchingly affectionate exposition of family life and adolescence in the Eighties.
Just as the reader senses the book winding down, Bromley unveils his surprising, shocking-yet-endearing ending which I won't reveal here. It is worth waiting for.
This all adds up to what every one is looking for: a great read. Highly recommended.
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on 22 August 2016
A very entertaining holiday read. I particularly enjoyed the four or so pages devoted to Bullseye, surely the greatest of all appalling gameshows which even now are compulsive viewing late at night on Challenge, although I have to correct the author on one minor point - for the contestants to win (or preferably not to win) Bully's Star Prize, they were only allowed three darts each to score the magical 101 or more. Had they been given the stated nine darts, Bully would surely have been giving away many more speedboats...
A recommended read.
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on 16 December 2016
I bought this book as a gift, but was a bit disappointed in the lack of images. I only hope the recipient will not mind reading page after page of words, without let up. I hope it is nostalgic enough to get over the lack of visual stimulation. I however, have not read it, so hope this review is still useful for someone...
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