: Take me back to easier TV times

Is this the first or last series of Downton Abbey? Picture: Nick Briggs
Is this the first or last series of Downton Abbey? Picture: Nick Briggs
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It took around 40 years to build your average-sized cathedral, you know. I’d imagine it took about that for St Giles’. It’s an awe-inspiring thought that our ancestors would start a building project sure in the knowledge that they would never see it completed.

I suspect that’s how we are all going to feel about Downton Abbey and Homeland. I mean, how long are these programmes going to last?

It was bad enough wading through Killings 1&2, The Bridge, 24 and Lost, but now we’re in serious sofa-surfing territory.

There was a time – and yes, I know what that sounds like – when your popular Saturday night televisual treats were rollicking comedy, followed by something involving Bruce Forsyth and then The Film.

Now it’s all hour-long harrowing dramas with story arcs that take about a decade to sort out when you’d worked the whole thing out by episode three.

Of course those people who “survived” the plane crash in Lost were dead! Gee whizz, have none of these smart American screenwriting people ever watched those black and white movies with terribly posh English people being trapped in the station because the people with working class accents have told them the fog is too heavy to go through and then they hear about the train crash and then they realise DA DA! They are the dead ones.

Well, after about a million episodes, that’s what happened to the people in Lost. Sorry, was that a plot spoiler?

There was a time when the only television programme that was thought to be worthy of the hour-long format was the documentary.

Light entertainment, on the other hand, your dramas, quiz shows, soap operas and sitcoms involving faintly ridiculous people called Terry or June who lived in bungalows in or near Croydon were all half an hour. They started at 6.20 or 8.10, proper times like that and the TV schedule page in the newspaper looked like patchwork blanket.

Now, it’s all 8pm and 9pm and every episode depends on the viewer not just having seen the previous 81 episodes, but having watched the out-takes and catch-up shows on line.

I tell you this, in my young day you could watch the first episode of Terry and June and the last one without knowing anything about anyone in the programme. Or indeed, laughing.

No surprise Peter is a Nobel gent

Congratulations to Peter Higgs on his Nobel prize – can’t help but notice he is still just plain “Peter”. Could we not give him a title if he wanted? After all, Fred Goodwin handed his back, so

there’s one going spare, if Professor Higgs didn’t mind the pre-used


The telly people seemed a bit fazed to discover that he was as elusive as his particle after the announcement.

Tip for you, telly folks. Scientists, in the main, tend not to behave like a 23-year-old blonde lifting the Best Supporting Actress. It’s most unusual, I’ve heard, to have physicists clutch the Nobel whilst weeping all over their Oscar de la Renta frock, thanking their moms and all you wunnerful folks out there for all their support.

Most scientists appear to be fairly reserved and they’d make quiet TV at award time, but they are the

people who really deserve the

glittering prizes.

It’s still Eva so shocking to see

ONE documentary that used to bring our entire household to a standstill every Sunday was The World At War, a series that still has the power to shock today.

I caught an episode the other day and was still stunned to see a charmingly accented German lady with beautiful bouffant hair discuss Hitler and Eva Braun in warm tones, because this lady had been Hitler’s secretary. This woman had carefully typed out the notes, letters and memos of one of the 20th century’s most vicious copper-bottomed murdering swine, and yet she still clearly thought he’d been a good boss.

Sweet taste of weird cakes

NOW, whilst trapped on your sofa there, good people, you might want a sugary snack to get you through a 42-part series about a bunch of snobby people in a country house. So, have you considered the cronut? It’s a croissant and doughnut. And now we have the duffin, which is a doughnut and a muffin.

Quite why the humble doughnut is being messed about like this is anyone’s guess, but I suspect our cousins in America have something to do with it.

Time to hit back, my friends. Let’s take two crazy ingredients and slam them together and call them something funky.

Let’s take, I dunno, dried fruit and cake mix and slam the lot together and name it after Dundee, which might not be funky, but is certainly a bit edgy.

Take that, my Yankee friends with your newfangled cronut and duffins. And learn to spell doughnut whilst you’re about it.