Opera North - The Little Greats

Advertising Sectioned: Teleview in Comfort with Goodwood Furnishers (c.1957)

17 October 16 words: Advertising Sectioned
Wayne Burrows takes us back to 1957, where watching the telly could be enjoyed from the comfort of the tele-circle
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The long summer nights are slowly but inexorably drawing in. We'll soon be bracing ourselves for the sudden plunge into that cold, dark maelstrom of premature Christmas lights generally announced by the clocks going back an hour. This happens on Sunday 30 October this year, in case you were wondering, but it hasn't been much acknowledged that 2016 marks the centenary of our traditional exit from British Summer Time.

The practice of jumping backwards or forwards an hour at either end of a British Summer was instigated by a builder, William Willett, who complained about the effect of wasted daylight on his business and got an Act of Parliament passed in 1916. Like most things to do with time-keeping, it all came down to rationing hours so someone could make more money. As Lewis Mumford succinctly puts it, “the clock, not the steam engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age.”

What this has to do with Goodwood of Denman Street is the tendency of these looming, extra dark evenings to encourage a retreat indoors. Even in 1957, when there were still only two TV channels to watch, this advert suggests that dedicated TV furniture was beginning its process of replacing the fireside hearth with the Gogglebox. Even as TV itself was still exclusive enough for its furnishings to be designed in classic mid-century Scandinavian style as a mark of tasteful sophistication.

There might not have been much to watch then, but making a statement about watching it was clearly on an upward trend in 1957. These days, with around 450 channels churning out random programming across everything from mobile phones and laptops to massive plasma screens and home cinema projectors, there still might not be much on, but we watch it in far more varied ways than Goodwood's Tele-Circle customers ever could. With or without their latex cushions.

This still suits the rolled-back daylight hours of our changing clocks, by virtue of shunting us from after-work drinks in balmy pub gardens to the front of the telly. There, we can be bludgeoned into relaxation with DVD box-sets and Netflix binges. There, we’re out of the freezing cold and constant rain, but ready for an extra morning hour in a modern variation on William Willett's original 1916 daylight-squeezing business.

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