Jayne Dawson: The TV rules have changed. So what size is your set?

It's been another awful week, what with the National Treasure and Musical Genius death count rising, so I'm kicking off proceedings with a saucy innuendo, to remind us all that we're plucky and British.

Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 10:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 11:49 am

So here it is: size matters.

Yeah, yeah, pathetic, not worth the build-up, but I’m trying my best to raise spirits here and, anyway, size does matter - in some things - but the direction of travel varies according to the object.

Take fridges. You can’t really have too big a fridge, can you? I mean you can, you don’t want to be squeezing past it sideways making your stomach and bosoms as flat as the passing of years will allow, but the ideal size is massive.

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If we won the Lottery we would all want fridge space equivalent to a three-bed semi. We would want everything in there from the tinned tomatoes to that old jar of mustard; we would want a salad drawer so cavernous it would be possible to berth an unexpected guest, and enough shelf space to be able to cook a Christmas dinner for twenty without even having to double stack the leftovers. On this we can all agree.

With phones, on the other hand, we want them small. I know some now have screens that are a teeny bit larger and that ‘s a good thing because it enables those of us who can see very little these days to have a fighting chance, once we have scrabbled through our bag and found our specs. But we all know that those early mobiles, the size of a brick, were a bit too comedic to ever become A Thing again.

So far, so plain sailing, but here is where the waters muddy: televisions.

Is it good or bad to have a stonking great television?

Back when televisions first came out, there was no debate: they were all small enough to be hidden by an artfully-placed doily or a strategically-positioned budgie cage.

But then technology reared its ugly head, set sizes began to grow, and rules had to be put in place, pronto.

The rules went like this: posh people had small televisions which were hardly ever switched on; your working classes had bigger sets, around which they ate their tea, and which were never switched off.

And so it continued. Your upper echelons stuck with their black and white because David Attenborough sounded great whatever, your lower orders spent all their benefits on colour sets all the better to watch game shows on ITV - allegedly.

But now has come the super telly, the smart telly, and the really gigantic telly - and the rules are confused.

A presenter on Radio 4 - surely the home of the poshest of the posh - has just announced that he has invested in a 65 incher. He waited until his wife was out of the country and by the time she walked back through the door, he and the kids had handcuffed themselves to it. She has accepted the situation, with reluctance.

What should the rest of us do? Do you own a television that is so big it has its own pulse, that has become the boss of your living room and that all the neighbours can watch without even trying? Or do you still think smaller is more civilised?

Temptation is out there in spades. You can spend thousands, you can buy a screen that is 105 inches wide and costs £45,000 - though, technically, I think we can all agree that is a cinema screen.

You can get them disguised as paintings - large paintings; you can get them disguised as mirrors.

You can buy screens that curve around you, so that you can ignore the cruel world, curl up in the foetal position and allow the telly to engulf you.

Or you can sneer at all that and stick with your old 28 inch set - like me.

I’m wavering though. I know the day of the smart TV is coming for me and the devil is on my shoulder, telling me that bigger is better. Size matters, I just don’t know if bigger or smaller is best.


Sometimes just one sentence can make you admire a person forever and for me it was: “Beat me on the bottom with a Woman’s Weekly.”

It’s got everything. Right there is warmth, Northern humour and the hilarious idea of wild times behind closed doors between cocoa drinkers.

The Ballad of Barry and Freda is a work of genius. But then Victoria Wood was a genius, and a champion of the middle-aged.

This weekend I gave in and immersed myself in reruns of Dinnerladies, and Victoria Wood’s Midlife Christmas.

Oh my days, it was good. Gentle, clever, and just so funny, with an appealing homemade quality.

A Victoria Wood show never gave the impression of having being mass-produced in a joke factory - like, say, American sitcom Friends always did.

Her style was more as if she had crafted her dialogue at the kitchen table with a pot of tea at her side, then bashed it into shape with a rolling pin and dusted down her hands on her pinny when it was done.

So this weekend I sniggered over lines like: “She took a risk with a packet of maxi pads.”

I watched with glee a sketch about the Olympics where an elderly chap drew the rings symbol with a lit sparkler.

I could watch it all again and I will have to, because there will be no more, and nothing more to say - except that is so sad.


There we go, another online story mocking a bride. This one married in a dress that, at ten stones, weighed more than she does. It had eight hoops and was as wide as the church aisle.

So what?

A wedding is the bride’s day - leave her alone to get on with it. If she wants a dress wider than she is tall, what the heck? She is harming no one.

Brides and women at the races are routine targets for scoffing. It’s always about the tackiness of what they are wearing - or sometimes drinking.

But weddings and race days are celebrations. They are carefully arranged occasions when the participants are off duty from their normal lives. Every other day they can be sensible, dutiful, responsible and completely grown-up. They can wear clothes that are appropriate to their age, the shape of their legs and the day ahead of them.

But just once in a while let’s allow them to forget all that, without sniping.