Television and Improvement of Leisure Opportunities
In terms of leisure opportunities, the twentieth century has seen a
vast explosion of activities. Although the emergence of TV is a
relatively important factor in improving leisure opportunities, it is
actually only one of many developments and changes that took place to
improve leisure opportunities throughout the twentieth century.
Moreover the improvement was not just the result of developments in
communication but also economic, political and social changes which
are all interconnected.
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, a survey by Rowntree
showed that most ordinary women spent ...view middle of the document...
believed that TV as a communication medium would be a 'mere adjunct to
radio rather than one whose essence would be visual'. Haley clearly
underestimated the impact of television because by 1968, 90% of
households had a TV set.
The 1953 coronation of the Queen symbolizes how television surpassed
radio as the major communication medium. The coronation prompted a
boom in sales of TV sets; it was watched by nearly 56% of the nation-
impressive even by today's standards. The transmission lasted all day
and used 21 cameras around the centre of London and Westminster Abbey.
The commentary was done by Richard Dimbleby, a household name and the
'voice' of the BBC. In addition to such national events, the BBC
produced the first soap opera 'The Grove Family' and notable dramatic
achievements such as 'The Quatermass Experiment' in 1953 and even an
adaptation of George Orwell's '1984' in 1954. The BBC also broadcast
outside events such Wimbledon and Test Matches etc. Television's
'Golden Age' came in the 60's after the Conservative government
introduced a Television Act and which proposed setting up the
Independent Television Authority. A new channel was introduced; 'ITV'
which offered an alternative to BBC's sycophantic and deferential
attitude to politics.
In the 1960's, television genres that are familiar today were
established. 'Coronation Street', 'Z cars', 'Steptoe and Son' are all
household names today. A precedent had been set in terms of satire,
soap operas, and situation comedies etc which are reflected in TV
programmes today. These programmes provided entertainment but at the
same time portrayed 'ordinary domestic life'.
However TV's emergence was not just important in its dealing with
issues related to ordinary people but how it helped change life for
ordinary people. People began to sit at home with their family, in
their living rooms, watching other real or fictitious people, keeping
each other company, helping to cope with life and then sharing the
experience with others. This is still evident today e.g. Phil
murdering Lisa' in Eastenders, 'Tricky Dicky' in Coronation Street,
such storylines become the focus of socialising for many ordinary
'Domestication' of TV refers to the way that TV has become such a huge
part of domestic life. Hoggart and Williams referred to it as the
'lived experience.' Just as radio brought the realities of
unemployment to Home Counties audience, TV exposed the plight of the
homeless in a drama 'Cathy Come Home' about a young runaway girl
living on the streets of London. TV and domestic life became
indistinguishable and part of the national and personal identity and
memory. People still remember watching President Kennedy's
assassination in 1963 and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in
TV as a mass medium...