More Notes from The Orchard – 53 (part 2 of 3)
Hot on the heels of radio came television. Timing was part of television’s subsequent slow development in England as its progress was hampered by the arrival of the Great Depression swiftly followed by the outbreak of war in 1939. Shortage of money with the cost of running the war was not an ideal setting for success. The end of the war in 1945 underpinned by the success of the Marshal Plan in putting Europe back of its feet meant there was at last money to spend on leisure. After five long years of misery enough comic talent had been honed by those who’d spent time lifting people’s spirits during the war with concert parties etc. there was now a mass of people to fill the television screens and make us laugh.
All was not easy though: the need for secrecy during the war where D notices were easy to slap on possibly ‘unsuitable’ programmes or indeed other information the government didn’t want the general public, former and even new enemies and others to hear. Former enemies included some of our own people, particularly those who were considered the elite and therefore were due all sorts of reference and respect. This, of course, included members of the royal family, the government in power, the church, the establishment in general, all of whom were protected from the prying eyes and ears of the public/proletariat. This secrecy in turn was ruled by the press and the BBC, not to mention the Blue Pencil of the Lord Chamberlain along with his minions and sub-committees!
The new brush of the Sixties swept away most of the restrictions of that period and all who flourished in the ‘media’, fruit of the ever-growing technology which fed life blood to everything including education of our children and the rise of the ‘importance of the individual’. . .
With the entry of television after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, when people acquired television sets by the million, it seemed the power of the ‘Fourth Estate’ had become so great that it managed to give birth to its usual offspring: corruption.
The BBC’s radio channels combined with television and subsequently with ITV and its power to advertise, reflected the values which had contributed so much to the concept of materialism. There was so much out in the market and so much money available to so many that Greed blinded our eyes to the really poor while the rest of us went on a spend, spend, spend spree of delight. Only when the spenders began to discover that all the ‘stuff’ they had acquired filled so much living space that the problem of what to do with it raised its head. On top of that, people began to notice the delight which came with the initial spending spree just didn’t last. They needed to get their hands on yet more and more possessions to feel the pleasure of fresh acquisitions.
However, if we ever gave a thought to what was happening we just went on buying as long as the money lasted and the whole idea of stopping shopping was pushed out of the way (“Get thee behind me, Satan!”).
Celebrity, as a concept, was born as salaries for media darlings from the world of arts and sports rose higher and higher along with the salaries paid to producers, presenters and so forth. The arrival of ‘reality’ television was an enormous help with the rising costs of producing enough programmes to fill our screens. The general public were paid little more than a token amount for their on-screen appearances combined with the thrill of a few minutes of fame on television.
But life moved on into the world of the internet and this article will continue to expand into Part 3 as the young continue to drift away from TV into a new and even more exciting world. . .
(Part 3 August 2018)
Katy Bell © 2018