‘Did I say I had a TV set now?’ wrote Philip Larkin to Kingsley Amis in March 1979. ‘Where’s all this porn they talk about?’ By October, he had still found
nothing but chat shows and non-comedy and B-films and NEWS – God I hate news – can’t watch it – to see these awful shits marching or picketing or saying the ma’er wi’noo be referred back to thu Na’ional Exe’u’ive is too much for me. Why don’t they show NAKED WOMEN, or PROS AND CONS OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN GIRLS’ SCHOOLS?
The following year JR was shot, which allowed Larkin to see lots of Pam Ewing in her high-thigh swimsuit, and two years after that his chances of finding naked women further improved with the launch of Channel 4. By the time he died in 1985, EastEnders had been running for ten months and had he watched it – as I’m sure he did – Larkin would have enjoyed the scandal of Dirty Den getting Michelle Fowler, his teenage daughter’s best friend, up the duff. It was a Fowler family tradition, as The Guardian’s TV critic Nancy Banks-Smith put it, to be impregnated by the landlord of the Queen Vic.