Don’t Just Sit There Moaning about TV, Do Something

Daytime TV has no reason to exist in my view. It wasn’t just my opinion either – TV companies used to be of the same opinion, and helpfully transmitted testcard signals and the like, so that young Ermines could while away the slack time in the lab of my first company trying to fix a TV. And learning that a 26kV belt from the anode cap makes you end up lying on your back looking at the lab ceiling with stars  in front of your eyes. It confirmed the power supply and LOPT worked okay and the problem lay elsewhere, but I’ve been leery of TV since then 😉

The testcard signals were at least something useful, if not interesting, on TV in the daytime up to the early 1980s. The testcards have quite a following, as indeed does the testcard music, I was surprised to see. I recall it as light entertainment with all strings and no vocals, like muzak, but clearly it has its aficionados. Whereas apparently what they use the time for now seems to be upsetting people, particularly some shift-workers and retired people who are getting incensed because the BBC is showing a load of antique and auction programmes in the daytime. This was news to me, because life is too short to watch TV most weeks. Even if it is the case, so far in my life I’ve never come across a TV without one essential function. You sometimes have to look hard for it, and in the olden days when you actually had to get up to change channels on the TV  manufacturers had a pesky habit of combining it with the volume control. I’ve located it on my TV and helpfully arrowed it 🙂

Welcome to the Off button, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. It is your friend…

It’s called an off switch. If you ever find some piece of consumer electronics that is meant to be entertaining you fails in this task, press that and the problem is instantly sorted. Nondestructively, too. There are other ways of solving the immediate problem should you find an antique show not to your liking.

This switches off most things and some people, but it does have problematic side effects


Let’s take a closer look at all this upset. Viewer #1, presumably of sound mind and hale of heart, gripes

‘I work in the evenings, so all I see all day on the BBC are constant shows like Homes Under The Hammer, Cash in the Attic [and] Bargain Hunt. I sit down to dinner and I see Flog It, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Antiques Road Trip [and] Antiques Roadshow. Do you really need so many of these types of shows?’

to which the obvious riposte is “Don’t be such a frickin slob.” Your food died for you. At least do it the honour of sitting down and paying it full attention while you eat it. You might find it tastes better, because humans only have so much sensory bandwidth. And if it doesn’t taste better then you could use some of the time you’re not watching crap on TV to cook something more nourishing!

While he’s at it, I have news for him. Starting somewhere about the mid Seventies, people invented something called the video recorder, explicitly to timeshift TV programmes. These have been refined over the years to a high art, as epitomised in my Humax Foxsat HDR. This was a massive upgrade to a Sky TV dish because it got rid of Rupert Murdoch’s blood funnel inserted into my wallet, and it means you can record TV shows and watch them later, like when Antiques Roadshow is on in the daytime! Ain’t technology wonderful? Go on, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, knock yourself out with one of those.

Viewer #2 seems to have a more intractable problem

Another said: ‘Being retired now, and because of the awful summer this year, I’ve spent more time at home than usual. These cheap and nasty [home and auction] programmes definitely aren’t aimed at me, or if they are, they are way off target.

Day after day of the same pointless, boring, mind rotting junk is insulting to anyone’s intelligence.’

Not sure there’s any intelligence to insult here, pal. We’ve sent a search party out for it and came to the conclusion that it’s MIA because you failed to make use of that on/off switch and go and do something more useful with your time.

I’ve been retired for three months and watch less TV than I did when I was working, because without the pain of working breaking up your day guess what? You can really get a run at something, and y’know, focus on it, or learn how to do something. I have focused on mimimising my outgoings at the moment because at this early stage of retirement maximising my capital is important so that I don’t deplete my future income. I haven’t been bored though – it’s a big wide world and the magic of Google means you can find out about all sorts of stuff and creating things. I’ve been learning how to code in Ruby, saved £300 by fixing a broken camera lens. On an off I try and make this motley collection of parts do something for me, though I know I ought to get on and build it properly once it covers more than half a solderless breadboard.

Now that the library has a decent search systemwhere you can order books online I’ve been reading Cheap. Heck, I’ve even discovered how to make the Amazon widget vaguely relevant/useful to this post. It’s really quite remarkable what you can do with the time that would otherwise be dedicated to watching Antiques Roadshow.Maybe these guys didn’t watch enough TV as kids. As the erstwhile TV show said, Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?