After speaking with my dearest mother about her early memories with TV, I can’t say I was very surprised with the outcome of the conversation. This is mostly due to the fact I’ve always been fascinated with stories of her growing up, wanting to know more about her different experiences. There was, however, two particular stories mum told that were something new: Firstly my mum watched the televised event of Lady Diana’s wedding and secondly, my goody-two-shoes mother rebelled; all in the name of TV.
Mum was born in England but moved to Australia in 1970, where she spent her early childhood moving between South Sydney, Vanuatu and New Zealand (my grandparents like to travel). It was when mum was around 12, living back in Australia that she remembers her first experience of TV.
“It was black and white, and it was small … For me I don’t remember a big deal being made about TV’s.”
In their small home, the TV moved around a fair bit, first being placed in the corner of the living room where they would sit and watch TV at dinner time. “I remember my brother being so busy watching TV that he didn’t notice the cat had eaten the meat off his fork.” It was a few years later when they upgraded to a slightly larger ‘box’, that Mum’s dad closed off the carport and turned it into a tiny rumpus room, it becoming the chill out area for my Mum and uncle. Nanna had put a lock on the door so the kids couldn’t go in early Saturday mornings. However Mum, being the older, wiser child managed to convince my corruptable and naughty Uncle to climb up the chair and push the lock through. They successfully entered the room, but did not enjoy their spoils for very long as they were soon caught out.
TV was never a social event for Mum, “we were always on our bikes … but occasionally if we weren’t playing board games we would watch it with family friends”. But hanging out with friends was very much influenced with what was seen on TV with the girls riding around pretending to be Charlie’s Angels. I thought this was a very interesting aspect that was brought up in our conversation. I’ve always known that Mum has never been much of a TV buff, but for her to be influenced to re-enact TV characters with her friends in the same way that I did with mine, was a very intriguing find. It can be seen that even early on in TV’s history, it still influenced social interactions outside of the living room.
During our conversation, a lot of information was just recall, however, when Mum introduced the topic of Lady Diana’s wedding, the tone changed. It was an exciting event in television history with almost all TV channels covering the event. On the 29th of July 1981, Mum and her family left bible study early to watch the event along with 750 million other people according to the BBC count.
“That was a huge deal that we were going to watch the televised event cause we had our own TV!”
Once again I saw the similarities of my own experiences, having stayed up late with my own family to watch Prince William and Kate get married in 2011.
An interesting movement I’ve noticed through delving into Mum’s past is the journey she has come with her TV usage. It all started with with a small black and white screen in the corner of the room, isolated in a loose sense. Yet just the other day, she sat in the front living room, TV off, but curled up on the couch, iPad in hand watching a catch-up of ‘House Rules’. So it seems we have come a full circle. She still watches TV alone, she only has a handfull of programmes that she actually invests time in and it has never been a goal of self-fulfilling socialising either.
So, in my world where I’ll be flicking through the TV channels, surfing my Instagram feed all the while talking about the latest episode of Winners and Losers with my sisters, it is easy to see how flooded this space has become. Maybe I will take a page out of my Mum’s book; I’ll go ride a bike or something.