Bear with me children and foreigners as we take a quick journey into the weird British past.
Back in the day, we only had three TV channels – four once Channel 4 and S4C arrived in the early 80s. You’d have thought that would make it easy to know what was going to be on television, but it wasn’t. Television was analogue and not digital so there were no EPGs. We had phones, but they weren’t mobile and they certainly didn’t have Internet connections. And while we did still read newspapers in those days, that only had that day’s listings. Next week? No chance.
So when we wanted to know what was on television some point in the near future, we had to buy a listings magazine. You can still find those in newsagents if you look hard. The unusual thing was there was only two: Radio Times and TV Times. Despite the titles, both did TV listings. However, the Radio Times did radio, BBC1 and BBC2, and TV Times did ITV and Channel 4. If you wanted to know what was on all four channels, you had to buy both magazines.
Still, with a captive market of tens of millions of viewers and not much television to actually list, both Radio Times and TV Times could not only include halfway decent, intelligent editorial, they also could get the important and famous to appear in their pages – and could pay top photographers to capture their likenesses.
All of this preamble is because TV Times is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and if you’re in London and happen to be around the Blue Fin building near Blackfriars, from today you’ll be privy to an unusual open air celebration – 60 of the best photographs to have appeared over the years in TV Times are on display around the building. Here’s a few I captured this morning, but you can get a complete listing and audio guide over on the What’s On TV website.
The exhibition is going to be running until 18th October, so you’ve still got plenty of time to catch it.