Jayne Dawson: Turning back the clock to the TV that made me...

Mad Men.
Mad Men.
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There’s a clever-sounding new show on the telly, but they’ll never invite me on. It’s all Sandy Toksvig and people like that. I don’t stand a chance. So I’m playing the game by myself. It’s called The TV That Made Me. ( I haven’t seen it yet, so I hope I’ve got the hang of it). Here goes...

Watch With Mother



Yes, some of us really were alive back then and we really did watch, though not necessarily with our mothers. I watched on my own but my auntie Joyce was in the background somewhere making my uncle Ed’s dinner. Yes! He really did come home in the middle of the day. What did I take from Watch With Mother? Oh, I guess that girls were never centre stage (Little Weed in Bill and Ben, Looby Loo in Andy Pandy) and somewhere there were nice ladies who wore beads and talked kindly but strangely.


The opening music of this show made me bounce on the sofa with excitement - and I was never told off either, because having nice furniture wasn’t so much of a thing back then. What I chiefly learned from Bewitched was it is difficult to twitch your nose. Elizabeth Montgomery made it look easy but I think her nose must have been double jointed. Also, I may have been eight but Samantha awoke a fashion longing in me - I longed for hair that flicked up at the ends like hers. Still do.

Top of the Pops

Probably the show I watched the most in my life - apart from A Question of Sport but that was always accidental, I never could escape the darn thing. What I took from TOTP was watching a pop show with your dad is embarrassing, if you have the kind of relationship that means you both sit silently in separate corners.

Forsyte Saga

A period drama of the classier type. Who could forget Soames’ brutal yet splendid unreturned love for Irene? But what I mainly learned from the Forsyte Saga is if you spend your afternoons watching reruns instead of revising, your A-level results will suffer.




How did I come to be watching a new soap called Neighbours? I think it was a mix of postnatal depression and desperation. Anyway, what with one thing and another I got hooked, back in the day when Joe Mangel and Madge Bishop were a lot bigger characters than that funny little car mechanic Charlene, aka Kylie Minogue. What did I learn from Neighbours? I don’t know. But I remember being grateful that it was there.

Cagney and Lacey

Now you’re talking. I loved Cagney and Lacey so much the theme music made me want to be eight again and jump up and down on the sofa. It featured two female police officers who lived less than perfect lives and, given the macho nature of their office, had to retreat to the grubby-looking ladies toilets to have a decent conversation.

But most of all I loved Mary Beth. She was a working mother and she was always dog tired, yelling at the kids and complaining about their ropey apartment. I was a working mother too, and Mary Beth made me feel I was okay. In case you’re wondering, I knew she wasn’t real. But still.

Mad Men

So cool, so stylish, so hypnotically, gorgeously wonderful. This series about an advertising agency taught me I’d been right all along - the early 1960s in America looked achingly good. The men in their sharp suits, the women in their figure-hugging dresses. The cadillacs, the clinking of ice in the morning whisky, the constant slick click of the cigarette lighter. Men were men and women were women - and I would have hated to be an adult working woman in such a dreadful, unfair, sexist world. Looked amazing though. This series was definitely the stunning crescendo of the television that made me.

Time to chill out over sandwich health and safety

Remember when the chill factor was an exciting new add-on to the weather reports?

Wow, that pepped up the end of the news alright. “Temperatures tomorrow will be in the balmy regions,” they would say...and leave a pause for dramatic effect, before swooping back in with “HowEVER, the chill factor will make it feel like a cold day in Siberia. Goodnight.” We would be left reeling.

I enjoyed the chill factor back then. it added drama to life. Where I don’t enjoy it is in sandwiches.

Because lunchtime sandwiches, as bought from supermarkets and major department stores, are very big on chill factor. You stare at the shelves, trying to decide between a ham with a mustard mayonnaise, or a tuna wrap with cucumber, or a chicken with ..whatever.

Honestly, you may as well not bother. Pick anything. Pick the first one you see, pick the one that has tumbled into the fruit salad section, pick the biggest you can find. It doesn’t matter.

Because whatever the contents of that sandwich, whatever fabulous home grown, hand-reared, individually picked ingredients from distant parts of the world it contains, it won’t taste of anything. That’s down to the chill factor.

Sandwiches in big stores are kept at a temperature so low that you may as well be eating a lump of carpet. They taste of nothing except cold, and fridge.

I understand why. I know there are rules. But couldn’t they be a bit more chilled about health and safety?

Colouring craze crossed the line

The latest way for adults to keep calm is to resort to that childhood pastime of colouring-in.

It is a trend that has the nation in its grip, with hundreds of thousands of books being sold.

Stressed grown-ups are reconnecting with their younger selves and creating those all-important alpha waves by wielding a felt tip instead of a cursor.

Alpha waves? No, I wasn’t sure either but they are I discover the calming brain waves, as opposed to the beta waves, which are the ones you need to stay alive in the jungle of life.

I like a trend, but I won’t be joining in. Colouring-in was one of my least favourite pastimes as a youngster. I found it boring and irritating.

Just like I could never see the point of a jigsaw, I could never see the point of a colouring book. Plus, and this may be an important part of why I dislike it so much, I could never stay in the lines. So I’ll stick to gazing mindlessly at the telly for my relaxation.