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Fiction Friction: Box Office Bombshells

FriendlyGhost

Trying to write more than my AH.com alter ego :-)
A good article which largely chimes with my own experience. I'm a bit older though, so it wasn't until I was already at secondary school before taping films at home became an option and there were only three channels anyway, since Channel 4 was still in the future. The other problem with seeing films on the telly was that often the ones I really wanted to see were on far too late. That applied to series as well as films. I remember being allowed to stay up until well after midnight to watch V (now titled as V the mini-series) which was so impressive to me that when Independence Day's alien saucers appeared, they just looked like V rip-offs to me (though I'd already read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End to which both owe a great debt, I think). I couldn't tape V though as we didn't have a video so it was a couple of decades before I was able to see it again, when it was released on DVD (actually as two separate releases, for some strange reason probably related to making more money off of people like me!).

I remember the furore when the BBFC introduced the 12 classification, which it seems was for much the same reason as the later 12A (it enabled Batman to be seen by under-15s), and there were therefore the normal complaints of "what is the world coming to" and "they're corrupting our children" etc.

(Strangely enough, regarding Bond films, which I also saw mostly on telly, when I first saw Goldeneye I also missed the first few minutes - it wasn't till years later that I saw the beginning, which did help explain a couple of things later in the film!)
 

Thande

Catch '22
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A good article which largely chimes with my own experience. I'm a bit older though, so it wasn't until I was already at secondary school before taping films at home became an option and there were only three channels anyway, since Channel 4 was still in the future. The other problem with seeing films on the telly was that often the ones I really wanted to see were on far too late. That applied to series as well as films. I remember being allowed to stay up until well after midnight to watch V (now titled as V the mini-series) which was so impressive to me that when Independence Day's alien saucers appeared, they just looked like V rip-offs to me (though I'd already read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End to which both owe a great debt, I think). I couldn't tape V though as we didn't have a video so it was a couple of decades before I was able to see it again, when it was released on DVD (actually as two separate releases, for some strange reason probably related to making more money off of people like me!).

I remember the furore when the BBFC introduced the 12 classification, which it seems was for much the same reason as the later 12A (it enabled Batman to be seen by under-15s), and there were therefore the normal complaints of "what is the world coming to" and "they're corrupting our children" etc.

(Strangely enough, regarding Bond films, which I also saw mostly on telly, when I first saw Goldeneye I also missed the first few minutes - it wasn't till years later that I saw the beginning, which did help explain a couple of things later in the film!)
Thanks for the comment. I'd be curious to know just how typical or not my experience is.
 

Ncw8

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I think you were right to be cautious about trusting Videoplus to set up the recording times. With ITV, the adverts did provide a little buffer, but the BBC was always a bit approximate in its timing, so programmes could start a few minutes earlier or later than advertised. I think they’d got a bit better by the late Eighties (presumably as a result of home-tapers grumbling), but in the Seventies it was a fairly frequent occurrence for the programmes to get so far ahead of schedule that a Tom and Jerry cartoon would be broadcast to fill up the time.
 

Geordie

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Good article, although I think "purchasable hope media" should read "purchasable home media".

The "toys to tie in to decades old media" thing strikes a big chord with me. Because my brother's best friend had a Mam who worked in Fenwicks, we got our hands on the must have Christmas present of 1992. Tracey Island. Originally shown on screens in 1965.

On the main thrust of the article, it's always interesting to find out that the cultural touchstones of your childhood are not universal - we've discussed the CBBC/CITV divide before. This phenomenon goes beyond that, though. This is the idea that the historical memory of an era can be very different to the lived experience. Which is something that all students of history know in an academic sense, but it's thrown into sharper focus when it's your own life that disagrees with the historical narrative. You can read articles about "growing up in the eighties/nineties" which talk about all the things you supposedly did, and you... didn't do them. You should know, you were there. But history insists differently. Sometimes, that's a factor of place - my Dad was a teenager in the "swinging sixties", but they didn't swing very much in Bishop Auckland. Sometimes it's a factor of economics. Sometimes, the narrative is decided due to things like your example: successful films essentially proving themselves out of repeat viewing for several years. The success often guarantees a place in the cultural memory (but doesn't always do so), but means anybody who missed it had a long wait to catch up.

As for videoplus, we never got such technological wonders. Our ancient Ferguson Videostar (courtesy of Radio Rentals) had an arcane pre-record method that required my dad to have Total and Absolute Silence Through The Whole House for him to successfully program it, all while he muttered the magic words under his breath. That machine lasted long enough that I first saw Peter Kay thanks to its sterling work. In his set, he had a whole section of his routine devoted to that lost technology of the ancients... the Ferguson Videostar.
 

Thande

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You can read articles about "growing up in the eighties/nineties" which talk about all the things you supposedly did, and you... didn't do them. You should know, you were there. But history insists differently. Sometimes, that's a factor of place - my Dad was a teenager in the "swinging sixties", but they didn't swing very much in Bishop Auckland. Sometimes it's a factor of economics. Sometimes, the narrative is decided due to things like your example: successful films essentially proving themselves out of repeat viewing for several years. The success often guarantees a place in the cultural memory (but doesn't always do so), but means anybody who missed it had a long wait to catch up.
This is very true - I often complain that the videogame history narrative is now written as though everyone lived in America, but there are plenty of other examples as you say here too.
 

Charles EP M.

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The BBC/CITV (and Channel 4) experience for me is that repeats from last decade or even thirty years before, both American and British, is on at the same time as new American cartoons and new British kid shows and also a bunch of Aussie ones (so to young-me Australia must've been a weird cool place), with no bearing on what American channel they were on. Pokemon and Digimon aren't in competition, they're both on CITV and sometimes the same day!

I remember being allowed to stay up until well after midnight to watch V (now titled as V the mini-series) which was so impressive to me that when Independence Day's alien saucers appeared, they just looked like V rip-offs to me
V's one of the big childhood influences that shouldn't be for me, cos Channel 5 was showing the first two miniseries in five weeks when I was in secondary school and obviously I couldn't tell it was 'old'. Like how the ur-Doctor Who is, of course, And The Silurians because that's the first one I saw on a BBC2 repeat.
 

Alex Richards

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Funnily enough, my formative experiences of a decade later are completely different but equally chrononausical.

Things like Cartoon Network and Pokemon were stuff other people with sky had access to, whereas our vast collection of videos spanned most of Disney (including Song of the South!), and anything of classic kids TV available- Bagpuss, The Herbs, The Clangers, The Wombles, Towser, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog...

Although we had to wait till DVDs to get a copy of Camberwick Green.
 

Geordie

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Bigg City Port was almost as important as Sodor in my childhood. Literally none of my friends at school had ever heard of TUGS.

It was only when I started using the internet regularly at age 18 or so when I was assured that other people had seen it.
 

Charles EP M.

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A defining film of my childhood is Dinosaurs: The Movie (I later learned it was called Adventures in Dinosaur City in America). Barely anyone has seen it, the ones who did said it sucked, but it had talking humanoid dinosaurs beating the crap out of people and some sex references that I was probably too young for and a backstory that the tyrannosaurus had led an uprising against allosaurus rule that made me go "THAT DINOSAUR CAME AFTER THAT OTHER ONE", so it was Big for me anyway.

Bigg City Port was almost as important as Sodor in my childhood. Literally none of my friends at school had ever heard of TUGS.
Other people didn't see Tugs?!?! I had one of the videos (it had the tug who was jinxed)
 

FriendlyGhost

Trying to write more than my AH.com alter ego :-)
Bagpuss, The Herbs, The Clangers, The Wombles, Towser, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog...
Camberwick Green
I've been trying to introduce my children to classics like these over the past few years. I never managed to get Mr Benn though - and they're a bit old for it now, unfortunately, so the phrase from my childhood ("as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared") just won't resonate with them...😞
 

Geordie

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I've been trying to introduce my children to classics like these over the past few years. I never managed to get Mr Benn though - and they're a bit old for it now, unfortunately, so the phrase from my childhood ("as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared") just won't resonate with them...😞
I've got it on DVD somewhere. And the proper Mr Men series, narrated by Arthur Lowe. I need to hunt them down, as my little one is just reaching the correct age.
 

Charles EP M.

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My sister showed the niece old Thomas the Tank Engine and new Thomas the Tank Engine, and Bagpuss (probably too young as she didn't care unless Bagpuss was on screen)
 

Geordie

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My sister showed the niece old Thomas the Tank Engine and new Thomas the Tank Engine, and Bagpuss (probably too young as she didn't care unless Bagpuss was on screen)
I'm making sure any Thomas episodes have either Ringo or Michael Angelis on the voice-over. They're going down well. He's never been one for cuddly toys, really. Anything with wheels. In fact, he took a brio James the Red Engine (as well as a police car) to bed with him tonight.
 

DocU

Ain't no work event like an S Club work event
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I think one of the most interesting things about the lived childhood media experience is just how fast it changes - it not a generational or even a decadal (is that a word) thing - it can almost be an annual thing, one where friends, siblings and parents can have such a massive influence and drive such a different view from people of the same age.

I think the article really captures the beginning of the fragmentation of media consumption - people my age can talk for entire evenings about childrens television, because with three channels and limited timeslots, if you didn't watch it, you were at least aware of it, and can be divided by Blue Peter/Magpie or Swap Shop/Tiswas. Whereas the range of options open to people today means you may not even be aware of the media your compatriots are consuming.
 

Geordie

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An important point, @DocU.

From the 1990s onwards, the audience has become ever more fragmented. The common cultural touchstones have become rather eroded, even as the ability to consume the same media as others all over the world, and at any time one wishes, has increased.
 

Thande

Catch '22
Published by SLP
Funnily enough, my formative experiences of a decade later are completely different but equally chrononausical.

Things like Cartoon Network and Pokemon were stuff other people with sky had access to, whereas our vast collection of videos spanned most of Disney (including Song of the South!), and anything of classic kids TV available- Bagpuss, The Herbs, The Clangers, The Wombles, Towser, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog...

Although we had to wait till DVDs to get a copy of Camberwick Green.
That's slightly different, but yes. My best friend had a similar experience because his older brother had taped all the kids' TV from the early 80s that was on just before he (my friend) was born, so he grew up with the 'wrong' generational experience.

An important point, @DocU.

From the 1990s onwards, the audience has become ever more fragmented. The common cultural touchstones have become rather eroded, even as the ability to consume the same media as others all over the world, and at any time one wishes, has increased.
I should probably do an article specifically about that.
 

Thande

Catch '22
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I've been trying to introduce my children to classics like these over the past few years. I never managed to get Mr Benn though - and they're a bit old for it now, unfortunately, so the phrase from my childhood ("as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared") just won't resonate with them...😞
I went to see an excellent stage adaptation of Mr Benn by students from the University of East Anglia once, it was amazing.
 

Stateless

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This has set me off to wonder which films were statistically most broadcast on terrestrial television. I think I saw The Railway Children every year of my life growing up, but remember it being a Big Thing if a Disney feature was broadcast, making you obliged to tape and watch it, which is why I've seen Tron far more than it warrants.
 
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