I remember getting my first ever telly for Christmas when I was 13 years old. It was a 14" colour model, the type with the clicky buttons on the front, no remote, and it took ages to tune each channel in. One step up from the ones where you had to twiddle each individual channel button to tune it in. I was really excited, not just because I could now play on my Spectrum in my own room, but also because I could stay up late and watch films, just so long as the volume was too low for my dad to hear in the room next door.
Weekday nights were great; Channel 4 would have their 'Creature Feature', showing every Godzilla film ever made over a period of two weeks. Then there was Saturday morning TV - Swap Shop and Going Live, not to mention during the week The Crystal Maze and then the tons of comedy on in the evenings. Monty Python, Fist Of Fun, Vic & Bob, the older classics like Open All Hours and Porridge on repeat. When I wasn't playing Elite, there was always something to watch on the box.
Twenty years later, 2010, and this week I cancelled my TV license. It felt really strange, because it's just one of those bills you pay and don't really think about it. This year was different though. I've been saying for years that I don't mind paying the license fee, even though I watch telly once a month or so, because BBC radio and the website are so amazing. Even when they used to print the breakdown of the license fee spend in a pie chart for you (they've not done this for years, I wonder why?), and almost a third went to BBC 1 alone, I still didn't begrudge forking out.
About two months ago I was in the loft dragging some decorating things down and saw the red light of the signal booster in the corner. After looking at it or a few seconds, I just though 'why is that thing on? We haven't watched any television for months' and turned it off.
Now I could waffle on for ages about how TV isn't what it used to be, and how in the good old days Morecambe and Wise got 80 million viewers at Christmas, which meant that every mother, child and zygote in the UK was watching, and how now it's all reality shows.
The simple truth is you don't have to go on about it. One sentence is enough. Television is mainly fucking rubbish.
Having said that, I've got to have a bit of a rant. If it's not soap operas (which now seem to be on every evening), it's Cheryl Cole crying at some variety act. New Faces was shit in the 80s, it's no better now that you've got adverts every five minutes and an Irish twat whose idea of talent is a group of five young Irish boys, one of whom is gay. Every year.
Apart from 95% of telly being utter shite, the remaining 5% I don't watch anyway - or when I do, it's on iPlayer about a week later. Like Wonders of the Solar System, which was a fantastic programme. So after talking to the man from TV Licensing, who sounded like he would rather be anywhere else apart from in a call centre talking to idiots like me, he confirmed that "Nah, you don't need one then"
So that just means that if there's something on the idiot's lantern, I'll probably have to go to David and Tara's place. Which, apart from Soccer Saturday when that was on Freeview, is the only place I've really watched telly in the last two years anyway.