How TV Ruined Your Life

There are lot’s of things Britain doesn’t do well – I’m not going to list them but they know who they are (public transport, motorways and frequent refuse collection…)

One thing that the British do very well is comedy.

I remember from a very early age watching the Carry On films (not understanding the double entendre), Open all Hours and Only Fools and Horses. And later as a teenager, Monty Python, The Young Ones and of course the all-time classic Blackadder.

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching ‘How TV Ruined Your Life – a fantastic satirical look at how the messages conveyed by TV and the Movies wildly differ from ‘life’s grim reality’. Charlie Brooker you did your country proud.

The point of the show wasn’t to suggest that we all revolt, remove our TV’s from our homes, take them to the top of the tallest building and proceed to throw them off the top.  I’m not going to suggest that either. Rather the opposite.

I am here to defend TV.

The problem with TV today isn’t the actual physical TV. We can remove it from our homes, or we can simply exert control and turn it off (and on) as we choose.

If my childhood home had not had a TV, I would not have happy memories of sitting watching the Carry On films on a Sunday afternoon with my family.

TV gets a bad rap sometimes. It’s not TV’s fault, it’s our fault. There’s a saying “A bad workman blames his tools”.

Exercising control is all it takes. If we choose to live completely TV free, how do we learn moderation, and to have a healthy relationship with TV? When we need to lose weight do we stop eating, or do we try to learn to eat more sensibly and with restraint? By not having something, or depriving someone of something could it be they ultimately desire it more?

TV can’t ruin your life unless you let it.


  1. You have this exactly right on both counts. TV doesn’t ruin lives, overuse of it — like anything else — does.

    And you’re also right about British TV comedy. From your list, Only Fools and Horses is my clear winner. I’ve been watching Citizen Smith and Green Green Grass recently, and John Sullivan was just as good with spinning a complex multi-threaded story into a funny half on the ancient Citizen Smith as he is now with the Green Green Grass episodes he wrote.

    Along with Roy Clarke, he’s a writing god as far as I’m concerned.


    • I LOVED Citizen Smith as a child! And I agree Only Fools and Horses cannot be beat – presume you have seen the batman and robin episode. Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore in the UK without Del-boy and Rodney. Glad to have met a fellow fan!

  2. Totally agree – anything only has that power over us which we give it. The trouble with TV is that many, many people give away their power without even realising it and also the power of their children.

    I was addicted to TV but at least I had some awareness of the big picture. I was really concerned at the programmes my partner’s adolescent children were watching repeatedly on cable TV. Channels like Nickleodeon and Disney feed them a horrible cocktail of consumerist, egocentric, escapism that can lead them into some very undesirable mindsets, e.g favourite pastime = shopping.

    These are my step-children so I didn’t see much point in forcing issues that were totally outside the realms of what was happening in their own home. I tried that with helping around the house and it wasn’t worth it.

    • Oh the minefield that is having children! It’s a tough one when everyone else (or it seems everyone else) is doing it one way and you are doing another. Responsible TV viewing can be taught. It’s as simple as turning the TV off, and then getting them engaged in something else. But this takes effort on the part of the parent. Hard to do I would imagine with Step-Children! It’s hard enough to guide your own children!

  3. This is so true! Removing the TV completely is very tempting, but as a parent, it’s almost the easy way out. In our home, we constantly struggle with the TV and computer. But I hope that in keeping them, I’m teaching my kids about restraint and judgement (although I”m not the best example in this area, sadly). It’s a media world, and whether we like it or not, they’re going to have to learn to navigate it!

    • You are so right – in many ways it is the easy way out! I can’t imagine having no TV, I’m not sure what purpose doing that for us would serve. What we ensure here at Chez Wright is that if the TV is on, it is being watched, and that it’s not just background noise. If the Kids want to watch something and will watch it properly then within reason I let them. I do of course keep the duration at a sensible limit… it gets turned off when I think they’ve seen enough and we do something else.
      Everything in moderation!

  4. Oh, British comedy! The office, Absolutely Fabulous, Coupling, and lately Clatterford. Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French are genius. I think a lot of British shows are superior to their US counterparts (yes, I am a U.S. american). I love me some Masterpiece either mystery or classic. and I have the set of the Miss Marple with Joan Hixon. Not really the topic of the blog so much, but I couldn’t help myself. ooh, and what about Foyle’s war, and, and…shut up Trish

    • Hi Trish – How lovely to see your comment this morning! I’m glad it is an American claiming British TV is better than US! :-)
      There are some fantastic BBC Dramas/Comedy series. One of my all time favourite’s is ‘Cold Feet’ – if you like coupling you should enjoy this. Also Mistresses is definitely one for a girls night in (with or without friends)! Fab! Jo

  5. Excellent point about TV.

    And I love British humour too!

    (I’m a Canadian “cousin”. Sadly, without a charming accent like the British have.)

    • Hi Jo H – I love Canadian Comics also. Saw a guy on ‘Live at the Apollo’ TV Show a few weeks back do stand up…he was very good…let’s see if I can Google his name…Jo W
      ps – Canada has the cleanest airport I have ever stepped into – clutter free, a minimalist’s dream – Vancouver….

  6. Couldn’t resist commenting on this, even though I’m way out of date, here…

    It’s all about choice, isn’t it? I can choose to select what I want – I can check the TV schedule or radio schedule and choose to watch something I like (country documentaries, comedy, old-fashioned detective stories…) or listen to something I like (comedy, drama…) and whether I want to immerse myself in it or have it as a background (ironing, anyone?!). Just the same, I can choose how often I use the computer and email, Facebook etc. and surprise surprise, even my iphone. I don’t understand people who feel these things are controlling their lives and stressing them. My phone is only on loud when it suits me, otherwise I can always see if someone needs calling back at MY leisure and I try not to bother others with loud ringtones or conversations in public as far as possible. I don’t have Facebook on my phone and I don’t tweet, though I’m sure that can be controlled, too.
    I choose.

    Incidentally, I am very grateful that I can now get British TV programmes via internet to a certain extent – it keeps me in the loop and keeps my English current (I am British and English mothertongue but left in the 80s so my speech can sometimes seem old-fashioned!). It’s true that it’s all very media-driven but again, I can choose how far I want to be informed.

    For me, it’s all a win-win situation: a few minutes prep means I have control!
    Enjoying catching up on your blog ;)

    • Hi Mel – Sorry for late reply, as a fellow brit you will understand when I say we went to Wales (to the Hills) for the weekend and my phone signal was RUBBISH!
      Totally agree – my word is also ‘Choice’ above and beyond anything else. I choose – for me thats key. No inate object can control us, it is impossible – in-fact nothing inate or not can control us unless we so let it. Choice! Choice! Choice!
      Interesting comment about your language seeming old fashioned. I love the 80’s – big time revival back here in the UK. The music etc… Did you see “Ashes to Ashes”? I’m actually off to a gig in July where Kim Wilde, China Crisis and Marc almond will be performing. Thanks for stopping by – Jo :-)

  7. Just come across your blog. So far, interesting. We decided to get rid of our tv nearly 8 years ago, When kiddie no:6 was about a year. I don’t miss it. It was the children who kicked up the fuss the most, but they’ve grown up and got used to being without it. It does make me smile, though, whenever I mention that we don’t have tv. People seem to think your’e isolated from the outside world and we’re not. We can watch anything we like on the internet, if anything we are all more selective, including the children. And when they do watch something they are watching it. Give me a tv now and I doubt if I can switch it on!

    • Hey Alyson – thanks for stopping by. The elimination of a TV certainly is appealing, particularly when watching the commercial channels that run advertisements. I may be becoming a grumpy old woman, but adverts really irritate me in various ways. We watch mainly advert free channels. However of late I have started using the PC to watch things I’ve missed, and it appears they have reduced advertisements – saves time also as a 60 minute show can be just 40 mins and sometimes less.
      Glad to hear life after TV has worked for you Guys!

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