Television Has Always Been There For Us
TV has been a staple part of everyday life for years – though admittedly many of us have become even more reliant on it recently, when we’re encouraged to stay home and live vicariously through those on screen.
Whether you consume shows through regular, scheduled channels or get your fix on-demand with streaming services, the TV is always there to entertain and inform.
Today, November 21, marks World Television Day, established in 1996 to commemorate the date on which the first World Television Forum was held. The world’s first regular high-definition television service kicked off in November 1936, and since then the landscape of TV has continued to change and develop.
From having only four channels back in the day, to having hundreds on demand and every conceivable type of programme constantly at our fingertips, the TV world has evolved within a lifetime.
While classic programming like soap operas and factual news shows are still going strong, over the years there have been a number of developments that promised to depart from the norm and gave us new reasons to tune in to the TV.
Take, for example, reality shows. The first reality shows arrived in the 1970s and gave viewers a unique insight into other people’s lives, and over the years they spawned series such as Big Brother and Love Island. While the premise of watching ‘normal’ people sit around in a house together doesn’t sound that exciting, the drama we’ve seen unfold over the years proves that it’s a brilliant formula.
The romances, the arguments and the gossip that can evolve between such a small group of people in such a short space of time is astounding, and despite the fact that the shows are made up of people just like you or me, they never fail to provide endless entertainment.
Reality shows give us a unique kind of escapism in that we know the story unfolding before us is actually real – albeit, sometimes it’s given a push in a certain direction. For the most part, though, there isn’t a script being quoted or plotlines to develop, and as a result we get to indulge in our love of real-life drama without having to deal with the fallout that occurs when it happens to someone you actually know.
The genre reached a whole new level in 2013 with the release of Gogglebox – a show quite literally about people sitting around, watching TV. TV-ception, if you will. It almost feels wrong to describe it as a reality show, but with the unscripted comments and real-life situations it is the very definition of the genre.
Again, those involved were just regular people, but the mere concept of the show was enough to intrigue the public, and the series proved to be a hit. Gogglebox gives viewers a window into the homes of other people around the UK, reminding us that we’re not the only ones who criticise, imitate and mock when we watch TV.
The idea of feeling a connection to those on screen developed as TV became more interactive. Shows began to arrive that were less about viewers simply watching things unfold and more about them having some influence on the direction of the show.
This is true for competitions such as I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here where viewers can cast their vote, and with live shows where the events unfold right before our eyes – and with the added promise that if something goes wrong, the whole world will see it.
Illusionist Derren Brown promised to make television more interactive than ever as he attempted to use it as a platform to hypnotise viewers.
In his series The Events, which aired in 2009, Brown informed viewers that he was going to try and make them feel as if they were stuck to the sofa by showing a subliminal video. He advised having the phone nearby in case you couldn’t move, and had viewers across the UK watching eagerly to see if he could pull it off.
The trick didn’t work on everyone, though there were members of the public who were convinced they were unable to get up afterwards, proving his innovative use of the TV had paid off.
Check out his trick below:
While reality shows and live shows allow viewers to relate and feel involved with those on screen, crime shows allowed viewers to indulge in a different kind of drama from the safety of their own home.
No one wishes to be personally impacted by crime, but fictional shows such as Miami Vice, Law and Order and Broadchurch, as well as true crime series like Making A Murderer and Unsolved Mysteries, all allowed viewers to get an insight into the more threatening side of society, resulting in the rise of armchair detectives and a whole new fandom to get lost in.
TV was forced to adapt this year with the coronavirus outbreak, and while many shows had to hit pause on productions, others were able to adapt and overcome the barriers the virus put in place.
This year’s Britain’s Got Talent series welcomed a virtual audience to the studio, while competitions such as The Great British Bake Off and I’m A Celebrity formed bubbles among participants to ensure the show could go on.
While the outbreak may not be the best reason shows have for gaining viewers, the adaptations have left audiences keen to know how the shows will ‘make it work’, in turn encouraging people to tune in.
TV will no doubt only continue to get more varied as technology improves and producers come up with new formats to blow us away, so on World Television Day make sure to kick back, grab the remote and enjoy everything the life-changing creation has to offer.
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