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Television, My Mother and I

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Mother and I bond over much more than just selfies, we both grew up with a strong fascination and love for television.

When I asked her if she wanted to be a part of my blog, she admitted she didn’t really remember much about growing up with TV. But once we started talking, I couldn’t jot down notes fast enough about Blakes 7 and Doctor Who and exploding television box sets.

Mum grew up primarily in Canberra, with her two parents Robert and Anne, and her younger brother and sister, Robbie and Catriona. They are the Bryces.

What Mum remembers the most about television in their home, was that they were rarely allowed to watch it as children. They only owned one black and white set growing up, and were never, ever allowed to watch it after dinner. Mum desperately wanted to watch Charlie’s Angels, the main tv show of her generation growing up, and struck many deals and bargains in order to gain permission to watch it after dinner.

Charlie's Angels (1976)

(Image via IMDB.com)

Another interesting memory she recalled, was the brief time they lived in the UK for one year in 1973-74. Mum was 8 at the time, and it was the first time she saw television in colour. Her instant reaction was “MAGIC!!!

Mum does not recall anything she watched, expect the vivid image and sounds of the first thing she saw on the colour TV. The TV was being installed in their home, and the very first thing that it showed was an ad for fabric treatment, and Mum remembers the jingle above all else- and can still sing it as she proved at this point in the interview. When the Bryce’s returned back to Australia, and until the aforementioned exploding TV incident, the Bryce family only ever had a B&W TV.

The very first memories seem to be the ones that stick the most, similar to Mum’s experience of her first time ever seeing colour TV, I remember the very first DVD we watched when we bought our brand new DVD player in 2003: Star Wars Attack of the Clones. Something about it was so fascinating and exciting. It was something new, a video that  you didn’t have to rewind after watching it.

Growing up, Mum named the shows she remembered watching were primarily Charlie’s Angels, Blake 7 was the first show that became her ‘cult’ viewing, the first television show she fell in love with. I can recall, my similar experience, the first show I fell in love with was likely The X-Files because Mum would watch it, and I would passively watch it with her. With absolutely no idea what the plot was, what happened in the episodes other than “MULDERRR” and “SCULLAAAY”.

Mum’s TV was in the family room, off the kitchen and a very tiny room. It had a few chairs and a divan, with a sliding glass door. The family dog, Penny, who was vehemently never allowed inside, would watch on pinning from the other side of the glass door. The TV, was a grand luxury and extravagant purchase. Her parents were not ever entirely sold on its purpose, my grandfather being the man who removed the radio from his car because he thought it would be a distraction.

Mum remembers that she always sat on the floor right in front of the TV. Funnily enough, I do the exact same thing watching TV, sitting extremely close to the screen my nose may as well be glued to the screen. A common practice Mum employed while watching TV, was recording the music off it onto her tape recorder. She rarely watched TV with all her family except the family Disney hour on Sundays at 6:30pm, or Blake 7 and Doctor Who with her younger brother.

Later on as she grew up, Mum remembers watching TV with her father. She recalls find memories of watching a British upper class satire series with him. They never had much in common, Mum recalls, but found this show was something they do and watch together.

In her teens, Mum and her Group of friends often got together for horror movie marathons that were on free to air all night. They would have a sleepover and at Rossi’s house and watch the movies together, a major social event on their calendars.

Perhaps her most vivid and predominant memory of that TV, and the family room, was the infamous exploding TV drama. The identity of the culprit has been lost in time and faded memories, but its aftermath lives on decades after the fact. The mysterious culprit, one of the 3 Bryce children, had placed a glass vase full of water on top of the TV set, unaware of the obvious correlation between electronics, water and combustibility.

Sure enough, the luxurious treat of the B&W TV set, met its fiery end, and caused much uproar from the Bryce parents. Mother Bryce, had just started a new job as a scientist at the CSIRO, and a large argument ensued as her first pay-check went straight to begrudgingly replacing the TV with an extremely expensive, new colour television. Vases were from that moment onwards, banned from the family room. 

Growing up, Mum always felt like watching TV was a treat. Her parents felt it was an indulgence, and being allowed to watch it was always a special treat. Her parents’ stance against television eventually lessened as Mum grew up, and family dramas arose, but that impression was always with her.

The prejudice against TV was never something I experienced, from my parents or my grandparents. The only time there ever was a firm stance against TV in my household was when my brother and I entered school age and The Simpsons became the new thing you had to be watching. Mum can’t really understand their opposition to it now, but I remember when we finally did get to watch it, how liberating it felt to watch The Simpsons, and how awesome it was.

The main notion Mum drew from recollecting her experiences with TV wasn’t the memories of where or with whom she watched it, but the types of shows were what had an impact on her. A history-drama miniseries on Masada sparked her interest in pre-history and archaeology, and became her drive throughout high school and university to study in that field, which she did.

Mum reminisced how much of a treat television was back then, and now it is something we take for granted. It is background noise when we eat dinner now, rather than the centrepiece of entertainment and prestige it was when she grew up.

In our household it is still a bonding experience. We all have our spot in the living room, and watch something together, sometimes with dinner on our laps instead of at the table. Mum thinks it’s us being lazy, I think its just a shift in culture. A shift in focus that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. TV has become a staple in our lives, as background noise, bonding and of course for entertainment. Learning about other’s experiences, and how similar or different they are to your own, is just another way it illustrates the impact it has had on our lives, for better or for worse.

(Image via eventplanner)

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