Question of the week: which aspect of old TV would you bring back?

Remember TV when you were kid, eh? Just four channels or maybe just three, full of programmes that don’t exist any more. Maybe they were even black and white rather than colour. Great, wasn’t it?

Of course, I’m not just talking about nostalgia for a TV show or TV shows that have long been cancelled and forgotten about, shows that haven’t been imitated or copied since – or maybe copied ad infinitum to lesser and lesser effect. There were wholly different ways of doing TV back in the old days.

Remember the variety show? The shows that allowed people to criticise what they’d seen on TV, like Points of View, Right To Reply and Open Air? How about the "long running viewer competition" like Puzzle Trail, in which viewers would get more and more clues each week until someone got the right answer? Did you know ITV once even broadcast a play performed in ancient Greek?

Not these days. Doesn’t happen.

So this week’s question is broad:

What aspect of old television would you bring back?

My choice would be the old Open University programmes. For the uninitiated, the Open University is a UK university that lets people work towards degree remotely from their own homes at their own pace. Nowadays, with the advent of the Internet, DVDs, etc, tuition is largely done through other media, but for a few decades, the BBC used to broadcast Open University TV programmes late at night and early in the morning on weekdays, and for a big chunk of the mornings on BBC2 at the weekends.

Imagine that: being able to watch university-grade lectures on dozens of subjects for free in the comfort of your own home. Watch a half hour social studies programme on the tension between deterrence and justice in criminal sentencing, then a geography programme about malnutrition in India, then a mathematics programme about non-Euclidean geometry, one after another.

Look, here’s one about velocity diagrams!

I was young, I should have been watching Going Live: I watched the Open University instead, and I’d like it back, please. How about you?

  • Gareth Williams

    Unintentionally terrifying characters on kids TV, I mean what the hell was Wordy?! I still wake up screaming to this day.

  • M L R

    I would bring back Black & White tv. Still hi-Def, just monochrome with that hint of blue- oh and White noize with Frame Roll as the Load Screen for the PVR/On Demand Box instead of the Blue or Black screen. While we’re at it the Vanishing Point to a white dot when the screen is tuned off.
    With today’s Tech they could Hardwire such Retro affectations right in to the screens…

  • MediumRob

    I like it!

  • Mark Carroll

    Well, we still have Points of View. But, I completely agree about Open University.

  • Oops. So we do – an occasional Sunday afternoon on BBC2 by the looks of it. Course, I remember the days when it was every Wednesday at 8.50pm on BBC1…

  • And Nosey Bonk on Jigsaw, of course.

  • I have a sense of more grown-up TV. Now there is plenty of ‘adult’ content (as in the misguided sense of ‘adult’ taht Torchwood s1/2 had) but there seems to be a more limited provision of grown-up TV. or is it just that it is spread across far more channels?
    I too miss the OU programmes (I remember setting the video to record them when I was an OU student), although it does seem that the BBC cannot now do a single documentary without saying ‘for more, go to the Open University’.

  • SK

    You do realise that that’s because the OU makes (well, co-produces) those programmes, right? Once they started sending all their students the AV material on DVD, the production facilities switched over to things like Bang Goes The Theory.
    See http://www.open2.net/
    SK BA Hons (Open)

  • “You do realise that that’s because the OU makes (well, co-produces) those programmes, right? SK BA Hons (Open)”
    Yup, sure do realise, and that’s a good thing, but there is something wonderful about those old ‘lectures’ that is really fab (says Rullsenberg – who completed A102, A204 and A315 before transferring my credits to finish full-time elsewhere; and whose partner completed his U/G degree with the OU)

  • SK

    It’s true, they aren’t the same.
    You do find alumni everywhere.