Simon Hoggart

Box of Delights

Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV


Profile 456pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

We didn’t have a TV in the early 1950s, not even for the coronation. To the middle middle classes, television was a bit naff, like lava lamps later, or giant screens today. But in 1956 we went to live in America for a year and everybody had a television, just as everyone had a car. My parents had their favourites: Sid Caesar in Your Show of Shows had us creased up every Saturday night. They also loved Person to Person with Ed Murrow, in which the famous war reporter interviewed a celebrity, the twist being that the celebrity was in his or her own home, and Murrow himself was in the studio smoking a cigarette, the length of which remained mysteriously the same for thirty minutes. This was an early example of what is pretentiously called ‘the grammar of television’; Murrow, like us, was watching on a screen, while we watched him watching.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,
    • In this issue Lucy Popescu discusses the miscarriages of justice occurring in the investigation over Maltese journa… ,
    • 'Rodin’s fascination with ancient Greek sculpture is part of a long and distinguished French tradition.' A review o… ,
    • The New Testament, in a new translation by David Bentley Hart, reviewed by Salley Vickers ,