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?

9 thoughts on “Don’t Just Sit There Moaning about TV, Do Something”

  1. honestly there wouldn’t be any daytime tv unless people wanted it. personally i wouldn’t have gone to gawp at a public execution either, but the demand has always been there, what you gonna do?

    …and don’t get me started on x-factor and strictly – and they are in the (legit?) evening…..


  2. Agree completely. I used to watch a lot of daytime TV in the school hols — when it had dull but strangely captivating things like these:

    But since adolescence I don’t think I have, and certainly none at all since retirement.

    I guess, though, licence fee payers feel they have a point. But really, it’s whingeing of the first order.


  3. Half a breadboard!
    My other half currently has bits of a tumble dryer laid out over the garage floor “waiting for the spare part to come”, a half built wall that’s been down for the last 6 months (the other half is laid out over the drive)”waiting for the weather to get better” and a computer in bits in the back bedroom.
    Sometimes I wish he’d watch day time TV:)


  4. This article is slightly missing the point. People who complain about how bad TV is are not worth worrying about in all honesty.
    It’s comparable to those who win the lottery and complain and not having anything to do with their time.
    What is life (a lottery win for anyone with the time on their hands to complain about crap TV) if you can’t think of anything to do with it?
    These people deserve all the crap TV we can produce.


  5. Time to get out the violin for those poor TV viewers.

    Mind you, they don’t make TVs like that these days… perhaps you don’t get off switches on these fancy HD ones.

    Someone tell them that you can get iPlayer these days as well with some money programs on Keynes, Heyek and Marx if they want something more interesting to watch.


  6. @SG
    > none at all since retirement
    that’s pretty hard line 🙂 That evoluon film was remarkable, weren’t people so chipper about science and technology then? And the teleplay generally was so slow; I find the postmodern cut cut cut of today too much but there is a happy medium!

    @Drew not for much longer they aren’t. They’re also savvy enough to use iplayer onlinke the whingeing old gits in the DM!

    @Rob it’s half of a production intercom. TV production companies used them as they could speak and hear at the same time, unlike a normal intercom. I started building that while I was still working and finished one side, I needed the other side to debug/line it up before transferring the design to a printed circuit board.

    This ia another example of the middle ground of products disappearing. You can buy no end of cheap crap intercoms made in China for £15 or the broadcast version for about £300 an end. It’s not a particularly difficult circuit design to do this job right, but no place for the middle gorund.

    @Romany guess the wall’s out for the count to next year, really. Does that mean the tumble dryer goes up the priority stack. As for the computer, soon it won’t be worth fixing as a new one will be so much better. Get him onto dryer 😉

    @Paul, damn, I wish I’d come up with your wicked one-liner

    > These people deserve all the crap TV we can produce.


    @Rob I’m of the view there shouldn’t be an off switch on the TV as such, because in the effort to save money on a mains/rated switch and have the remote on/off function it doesn’t do what it should do anyway – stop the sucker drawing power.

    I feed the TV and audio from a dis board and switch that section off at the wall, with just the Humax PVR run off the other side of the dual socket with do not switch off labelled on it.

    iPlayer does seem to bbe the answer to shift worker’s conundrum – watch it with a 12-hour offset.

    That iplayer prog was interesting. I didn’t know Keynes was pronounced Kay not Key


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