Titter ye not: Britain as Seen on ITV

Part 1/3 Homes and high streets  tx. 31.08.15  8.00-8.30pm, ITV1

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Last night’s Britain as Seen on ITV offered fascinating insights into ITV’s underutilised archive of regional news programmes and documentaries from the 60s,70s and early 80s, now residing in a variety of locations.

This and the recent ITV Pop Gold clips shows suggest the network has climbed aboard the I ♥ the… nostalgia bandwagon about fifteen years after the wagon rolled into the sidings.

And the treatment last night was decidedly new millennial, sniggering at how funny we were in the 70s via a quite annoying and largely unfunny commentaryBritain as Seen on ITV byline from Jane Horrocks.  You might have confused the programme title with Dinosaur Britain later that evening such was the flippant tone.

The commentary also contained the odd error such as the HTV footage ‘from 1960’, eight years before the company began broadcasting.

Still, if this is to be the only way we get to see such delightful and interesting old footage then so be it.  As a cheap and cheerful Bank Holiday filler it was rippingly entertaining and at least we were spared talking heads.

Dickensian washing machines 

The theme yesterday, in the first of three programmes as part of ITV’s 60th anniversary celebrations, was how homes and high streets have changed since 1955.

We heard from a high-minded (or condescending – depending on your point of view) councillor bemoaning the individualism of people clinging to their ideals of suburban houses with gardens.  An authoritarian architect floated a future idea of plastic pod living but failed to sell it to the residents of back-to-backs.

The ATV report on the last remaining midlands’ wash house closing in 1977 was particularly interesting with its grimy, industrial sized ‘Dickensian’ machines. Nothing seemed to better illustrate the death knell of these Victorian municipal monoliths than the shots of 70s nylon patterned pants sliding between massive iron rollers.

“Ouch!” – as the commentary might have so nearly said.



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