c. 1950: Through the TV screen

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In a series of experimental images, an unidentified ‘Margaret’ offers her views on the relatively new phenomenon of television.  The captions offer her thoughts on whether television is a positive or negative influence on British cultural life and heritage.  

The accompanying captions, written in the language of the time, see 'Margaret' debate if television is a good or bad ‘habit’.  She finally coming to the conclusion that a bit of mindless entertainment never hurt anyone.  ‘It’s great, it’s trite, it’s a scream’.


"I, Margaret, am in a meditative mood. I want to get real close to all you people out there who might spend your time in the darkness at the root of all those sprouting aerials.  Once more, I feel, the time has come to consider the question: Is TV a menace to our cultural heritage?"


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'I mean to say, all habits are to a certain extent bad habits.  They get you into a rut and you can’t see over the top of it.  But do you want to see over the top?  Aren’t some habits better than others, and is watching TV one of the better ones?'


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'fter the cry, the second wind, the second thought, the pensively nibbled nail, the dawning  conviction that I’ve got things way out of proportion… '


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'It is, of course, entirely up to you.  I don’t want to be biased and rush you into a decision you might regret.  Lets try and look at this thing calmly, scientifically, with facts and figures…'


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'Summing up and taking the long broad view, one can see that all blessings are mixed, that excesses, as it were, the logical precursor of moderation, that balance can only emerge from a state of unbalance.  Also they’ll have to make better films and it’s fun to phone the BBC and give them pieces of your tiny little mind…'


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'I want to leave you with this final cheery message.  If out cultural heritage can’t stand up to a menace or two, then it’s not worth worrying over.  In any case it it has it’s professional guardians – vested interests with axes to grind, comrades of the aerial – and isn’t it a relief just to be an ordinary, gimmick-gobbling sucker?  It’s great, it’s trite, it’s a scream.'



Text and curation: Amanda Uren



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