Television seems to be a norm in everyday life, it’s relied on for entertainment, current affairs, and just generally educating ones self on the world. I’d like to think not too many of my childhood memories involve the Tele, however I have plenty of flashbacks to when I would rush home after school on a Thursday (a good day on the ABCkids agenda) to watch ‘Blue Water High’ on our bulky black box that Dad only just recently, and reluctantly let go of. From a personal experience, and witnessing my younger cousins grow up, “screens” have evolved into a gadget that consumes a large part of our life. When given the opportunity to interview my parents on their memories of television, I was intrigued to see if there were any similarities between my Gen Z, and their early Gen X.
I took the chance to ask my Mum (Amanda) some questions on TV as we drove home from the snow, my Dad (Lachlan) at first bowing out from the conversation to focus on the road, has also contributed some of his memories and opinions aswell.
My Mum’s parents, herself, and her two younger siblings moved into a new house when she was 5. The house was up to date, the lounge room specifically was more formal than relaxed, she explained “That’s what the 70s was like anyway”. The TV was old fashioned and Box like with rabbit ear antennas. “My Grandad called it the idiot box, and as you kids were growing up I liked to call it the electronic babysitter”. There was a second TV in her parents room that she would spend her time watching before school, ‘Sesame Street’ was the program of choice. Her Mum was always at her to go outside and play, especially when colour TV came along, “It as so exciting and appealing”. Dad joined in – “I remember when we got our first colour TV, we won one. We were the first people on our street to have one, so all the kids from the neighbourhood would come round and watch it”.
Mum spoke fondly of the time she spent with her Grandparents, often watching great old American musicals on a saturday afternoon. Late at night time the genre moved to old horror movies in black and white, like Dracula and Frankenstein. “Something about the black and white filter made it scarier”. However staying up past 830pm was not a regular affair, which was unfortunate because she REALLY wanted to watch the show ‘Dallas’.
Both Mum and Dad had plenty of favourite TV programs. There was only 2 channels way back then (maybe an exaggeration when I say “way”), so there wasn’t an enormous range like today, however entertaining shows definitely existed. ‘Happy days’, ‘Bewitched’, ‘Mr Squiggle’, ‘Andy Pandy’, ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’, ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, ‘Young Talent Time’, and ‘Countdown’ were just a few of the favourites named. Oh and how could I forget ‘The Brady Bunch’, Mum claimed she “loved, loved, loved” it.
“My favourite show was Blankety Blanks with Graham Kennedy cause he was kinda rude and cheeky. Oh and the Two Ronny’s. Dave Allen was the funniest though.” – Lachlan
They had some different views on how much good drama was out there..
Amanda: “There weren’t really any great dramas”
Lach: “WHAT! You weren’t watching ABC obviously, there were heaps of good dramas Amanda! ‘Rush’ for example?!”
Television recorded some of the most important events in Australian and world history. Dad remembered watching man take his first steps on moon and Gough Whitlam’s sacking. Mum had a flashback to the media coverage on the freak space shuttle explosion in Florida.
“TV definitely played a role in my life as I grew up, in a good way. It was alot more innocent then though, it was a family affair.It was super entertaining, and informative, like we would watch ‘Behind the News’ at school as part of our curriculum. We would not usually watch TV during dinner. It was a special time when we all got in front of the TV on a Friday night to watch a program we had been waiting all week to see.” These final thoughts of mums’ represents how much the never ending source of entertainment has evolved. As technology advances, so does the number of screens in a lounge room, changing the experience of watching TV. Listening to my parents reminisce on their childhood memories, noticing how they continued to discuss TV long after the interview had ended, encouraged my opinion that TV was indeed an exciting element of life. My parents felt the TV was more of a privilege than a necessity, making it a somewhat special thing to have.