I was going to mention a couple of British TV shows from the '90's before I came across a spread of Radio Times covers, which really takes me back. In our global cross-pollination and instant information overload age, it is hard to describe the attraction of a thin, incomplete, fragile TV magazine which, if nothing else, was ludicrously mis-named for the television age.
Yet back in the day, when there were only two BBC channels (and the ITV listings were, if my memory is correct, only available in another listings magazine) it seemed very important to consult the RT (as it was affectionately known) before planning a night's TV viewing. This was, of course, also before the widespread availability of VHS, and many years before inventions such as DVD and TIVO. Back then, if you missed a show, it was gone for good. Fortunately, the magazine also served as an Entertainment Weekly of sorts, including snippets about new productions, what the actors were up to, and radio listings to boot.
There was no TV at all between midnight and 6 a.m., and BBC 2 was usually stuffed with arty, "educational" programs and the odd documentary. Therefore, viewing was usually concentrated on BBC 1 and whatever shows were being broadcast throughout the day or evening. Many of my TV memories were shows that it was impossible to avoid - and I'm sure my US born friends would have been appalled at the lack of choice, of freedom, of TV democracy back in those heady days - but now I can only look back fondly on Saturdays with Dusty Bin (That's 3-2-1, folks) or The Generation Game, Dallas on Wednesday nights, Panorama on Tuesdays, Tomorrow's World on Thursdays and Eastenders every bloody day of the week.
Next time I hear a child complain that there is nothing on the TV that they like, I will feel sorry for them. Perhaps, choice is sometimes overrated.
The Radio Times is still going strong, although I'm sure it is now wonderfully interactive and modern. There is an official web site. Like me, you can discover a wonderful gallery of all the old magazine covers here. There is, of course, a wikipedia entry as well.
One other interesting memory is this. In our house we did not have any air conditioning or central heating system. When my parents laid out some carpet mum would always use old magazines for insulation, usually the Radio Times or the other TV Guide. Years later, when we pulled up the carpet, I'd always find some old thing to read underneath. Even today, there are some things you just can't do with the internet.