✎ Cheaper than therapy 

24 March 2017 tbs.pm/11522

The whole broadcasting history, idents and theme music thing we’ve got going here is inspired by one thing: fear.

It’s a constant refrain that you hear over and over again when you ask people how they got into old TV: something, at some point, terrified their little socks off when they were nobbut a kid and they’ve been hooked ever since.

There are signs of this, of course, in Doctor Who fandom. Babyboomer Whoers liked the first few episodes of the series when it began in 1963. And then came the first serial featuring the Daleks. From that point, they were terrified… and hooked for life.

I was scarred forever by ATV’s Sapphire and Steel, watched with my mum (and all my fellow preschool-attendees) in the late 1970s. To this day, I’m a committed vegetarian, something I lay firmly at the feet of a chilled leg of New Zealand lamb mentally assaulting a woman from the future and a swan angered at now being part of a pillow attempting to push David McCallum off the roof of the Associated Communications Corporation building in Great Cumberland Place.

Try not to think too hard about that sentence: you had to be there.

Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence were also given the willies by growing up under the unrelenting baleful eye of television in the 1970s. And when they, like the rest of us, tried to look away, they saw the same horror in the books, films and even games that children were forced to endure at the time.

The damage this did to them – and us – has been put to good use in a lovely, horrible new book, Scarred for Life, released today. If you are nursing the thrilling neural disfigurement of growing up with the terror of pop culture, and if you’re reading this, you are, then it’s for you.

It’s £16.99 for the lavishly illustrated black-and-white physical paperback, or just £5.99 for the colour eBook. This is much cheaper than the therapy you actually need.

More volumes are planned, because the scarring of childhood memory is bottomless and we will always have clocks with teeth to terrify us.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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1 response to this article

Joanne Gray 25 March 2017 at 3:21 pm

It was the girl on Test Card F that first terrified me. I was of nursery school age and looked after during weekdays by my grandparents because both my parents worked full time (this was the early to mid 70s, before the strikes and gradual closing down of quite a lot of heavy industry that abounded in the late 70s to mid 80s). My grandparents had a black and white coin operated tv set and after the kiddies lunchtime shows on Tyne Tees (Rainbow, A Handful of Songs, Animal Kwackers, Jamie and the Magic Torch et al) Nana would normally put the BBC2 testcard on as she waited for the horse racing to start (she normally put a few bets on at the local bookies most days). I would enjoy the music as I read a comic or did some colouring in, but I would steasfastly make sure I NEVER sat facing the telly. There was something about the Mona Lisa-like expression on that girl’s face and the way her eyes seemed to be staring directly into one’s soul that gave me the willies. I’ve broken out into a cold sweat now, more than 40 years later, just thinking about it.

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