Discuss and account for this view of television in the 1960s and 1970s. Why is British terrestrial television said to be decline thereafter? In this essay I am going to state some of the reasons why is it widely believed that 1960s and 1970s were ‘The Golden Age of British Television’. I very much believe that this period was a real triumph for British Television and in the following paragraphs I will be giving few facts and statistics why I do believe it. I will give a brief history of British television and its programming, but I will be more focusing on an influence which British television had on British people.
How a certain programmes forced almost a whole nation to think about what they saw and how great progress British society made according to this influence. I will be highlighting the basic, but very much important role which television played in many people lives. Also I am going to try to explain my point of view on the decline of popularity of British terrestrial television. Finally, in my conclusion, I will try to set the overall opinion about the most famous and also the declining periods of British television. The television had been very precious to many people since a very beginning of its existence.
Television was an expensive item and not everyone could afford to have one at home. Those who actually have the television at home really took care of it, not just because of the cost of it, but because of its overall value. Even nowadays some households, especially those owned by elderly people, ‘treat’ the television the certain way. The television was usually kept in a centre of a room, very often decorated with some flowers or little statues, basically, people did not treat the television as a piece of furniture. As I already mentioned above there was that economic factor, which also influenced the way how people treat the television.
The very important fact is that there were not such a wide spread central heating as we have nowadays, so people have usually the television in the room where they have some source of warmth. This meant that families were watching the television together, also because of the programming. The television was developing with the growth of its audience, it has not been broadcasting for the whole day. The television started to broadcast more widely when more people were supporting it by buying the television licence and television set itself.
As could be seen from the statistics showing the numbers of Radio and TV licences (BBC) there was an amazing growth of television audience and the rise of rating was incredible high. During an early 1950’s there was a rapid expansion of TV set ownership. More than 2 million licences were registered in 1953 and the number was still growing to 15,397 thousands people in 1969. (BBC) Since the first public regular domestic television service started on 2 November 1936, there was very significant success, for example the huge audience of 10,000 people (source BP) was watching the coronation of King George VI in 1937.
The British television, particularly BBC was created with an idea of ‘the deep sense of responsibility towards the community’ since the very beginning. (Christopher, D. : British Culture; An introduction’, page: 106) The BBC broadcasting showed mainly plays, documentaries and everything currently connected to what happened in the society. It was a complete cultural picture of Britain in that period. Moreover, a timing of its broadcasting was planned to give the parents an opportunity to for instance put their children to the bed. According to Christopher, the BBC acts as a moral guide and ‘the official provider of culture to the community’.
(Christopher, D. : British Culture; An introduction’, page: 109) This example breathtakingly reflects the very strong role of the television in common people’s lives. The television almost ruled people. I should have say that mostly in a positive way. What are the main aims of the television anyway? To inform, educate and entertain people. The British television, especially the BBC broadcasting has done more than that. Even though one can argue that it seems like that the British television, BBC, also called ‘Auntie’, acts like it knew the best what is good for the British people.
The BBC still has very strong ‘reputation for patrician values in broadcasting’ (Christopher, 2001: 109) Since the very beginning of British television (BBC) broadcasting people trust to what they saw, they programmes which were show on BBC even more forced them to take certain action to improve their society. For example when the Ken Loach’s film ‘Cathy Come Home’ telling a story about a young became homeless couple trying to find some shelter where both of them can stay together with their children and ends with their children taken away from them by Social Services.
According to the newspaper article this ‘groundbreaking film’ had a very significant effect on British society. It is almost unbelievable nowadays, but that film ‘led to debates in Parliament, and a week after the broadcast the homeless charity Shelter was established. ‘ (By a correspondent The Times 22/7/05 page 29) That is a clear example of how much TV meant to the people and how seriously its broadcasting was taken. The television was not only one ‘mass- media’ per say at these days, but it was the most powerful one.
People trust to what they have been shown, ‘Cathy come home’ was not the only film which led to the parliamentary debate, for instance ‘Up the Junction’ (by Nell Dunn) showing the terrifying reality of an illegal abortion achieve the same goal. The BBC’s monopoly holds the British nation traditions as well as brought many great changes. The television audience was growing larger and larger, but during the late 1960s there was a very important breaking point and it was on 22 September 1955 when ITV broadcasting was introduced to the public.
The ITV broadcasting brought lots of changes to the traditional programmes produced by the BBC. Although there were popular entertaining series made by BBC already, for example – the most popular police drama ‘Dixon of the Dock Green’; 1955-76, ITV bring a new, fresh air to the British television programming. First and the most striking success made by ITV was the introduction of ‘Coronation Street’ the most successful soap opera. ‘Fifteen to twenty million people of all the different ages in all the parts of the country regularly watched it. ‘ (Christopher, D. : British Culture; An introduction’, page: 113)