Author(s): Phil Norman
An entertaining and illuminating celebration of televisual history by cultural historian Phil Norman For decades, television occupied a unique position in the national imagination. By today's standards the 'box' was tiny, but it dominated the living room in a way its technically superior descendants never quite manage. Has the television lost its power in the internet age? Cultural historian Phil Norman goes in search of such questions as he tells the history of TV through 100 ground-breaking programmes. He celebrates the joy of the TV schedule which, in the days of just a few channels, threw up dizzy juxtapositions on a daily basis: an earnest play might be followed by a variety spectacular; a horror anthology that drove children behind furniture followed a sketch show that chewed the carpet. This riotous mix, now slowly disappearing as themed channels and on-demand services take over, gave television a sense of community that no other media could compete with. The wonderful variety of programmes in the book includes overlooked gems and justly wiped follies, overcooked spectaculars and underfunded experiments - just as much a part of TV history as the national treasures and stone-cold classics. A History of Television in 100 Programmes revels in the days when television was at the most exciting, creative stage of any medium: a cottage industry with the world at its feet.
'Norman writes with epigrammatic wit.' The Times 'This alternative history of the "idiot's lantern" gathers a hundred programmes to chart eighty-odd years of televisual evolution: the early, chaotic years; the foolhardy, unselfconscious and creatively energetic years before commerce eventually knocked those fascinating corners off its character. At its best and at its worst, television is brutally honest and charmingly deceitful, sentimentally partisan and coldly dispassionate, obscenely lavish and ludicrously cheap. Its death has been predicted many times, but somehow it survives to this day.'
Phil was a founding member of the TV Cream nostalgia website and has written several books on popular culture.