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My All-Time Favourite Live TV Memories | Not Dressed As Lamb

Is there anything better than the memories of special TV moments watched together with friends or family?

This post is a collaboration with TV Licensing (a trademark of the BBC) but all thoughts and experiences are my own.

For example…

London 2012 Super Saturday and Team GB’s gold medal haul.

“Nasty Nick” getting his comeuppance in the OG Big Brother house.

Charles’s coronation and Camilla desperately trying to get her fringe out of her eyes.

The first time we saw the chandelier fall in Only Fools and Horses (and died laughing).

So many “Where were you when…” moments involve us collectively watching something on TV. We may criticise TV sometimes for its ability to take over our lives when we should be getting on with other things (=ahem= guilty!), but you have to admit – where would we be without those collective memories?

I’ve been asked to write about my unforgettable TV memories by the BBC TV Licensing for their Moments That Connect Us campaign, and to be honest it wasn’t easy to pick just a few (I could have gone on and on with relevant stories forever). But I’ve picked my four MOST favourite moments, which of course includes a live sport on TV moment (and it might be the number one favourite-favourite, so gird your loins for that one).

I LOVE reminiscing about these shared moments with my loved ones. I LOVE making new friends and finding out that they, too, have memories of some of the same TV moments that I’d include on my favourites list. I LOVE talking to people online and realising that we have so much in common through TV.

You simply can’t beat the power of TV, and yes: moments DO connect us…!

 

Here are my favourite live TV memories…

Blackadder II (1986)

As anyone who has watched it will testify, Blackadder was BBC comedy at its absolute finest. Starring Rowan Atkinson as the titular character and written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, it was – and remains to this day – one of the funniest, wittiest pieces of satirical comedy ever.

The first season (“The Black Adder”) was quite different in tone, but the series found its feet once Mr Elton joined as a writer for Blackadder II. It was so entertaining and so funny that with each new episode, the next day at school was always spent discussing it with my friends. How much we loved Queenie. How we thought Baldrick was cute and funny. How we found Edmond (Blackadder) wickedly hilarious and devious.

But nothing was as shocking – in a good way – as the arrival of Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart. Until then, we’d only ever seen him as Rick in The Young Ones, and that character wasn’t exactly the type to turn a teenage girl’s head. But in rocked the utterly gorgeous and mischievous Flashheart, and let’s just say that this group of 14-year-old girls never looked at Rik Mayall in quite the same way again. He found his way into Kate’s heart very quickly (or should I say, “Bob’s” heart), and ours too.

British comedy perfection wrapped up in just six episodes. In my humble opinion, it’s never been beaten. WOOF!

 

Hyde Park fireworks on the eve of Charles and Diana’s wedding (1981)

On 28 July 1981, my parents took me (aged nine) to see the celebratory fireworks in London’s Hyde Park on the eve of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding. It was the largest public gathering I’d ever been to in my life up till that point (and probably was for my parents, too), and frighteningly we did get caught in a near-crush at the end. But the live TV moment, I hear you ask?

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Halfway through our oo-ing and ah-ing at the fireworks, we saw a small group of kids crowding around a man who had something they found far more interesting than the fireworks display.

This chap was holding a small, portable black and white TV with a long aerial coming up out of it. It was showing none other than the live feed of the fireworks being shown on television.

A PORTABLE TV. In the middle of Hyde Park.

I pushed my way through all the other kids, and on the tiny screen, you could see the fireworks. LIVE. In terms of technology, it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. Rather than looking up into the sky and seeing real fireworks in glorious technicolour, we all wanted to watch them on a flickering black-and-white screen no bigger than the size of my hand.

My parents had taken me to London to see the most incredible fireworks display I’d probably ever get to see in my life, but I decided I’d rather huddle over a tiny TV and watch them that way.
That night I saw the future of technology – and I didn’t even realise it.

 

Germany v England, FIFA World Cup qualification match (2001)

Sometimes, live sport creates the most memorable memories, if you’ll allow me that awkward phrasing. But not for the sport itself…

In September 2001, England played a crucial match against their old rivals Germany (well, according to the English they are) in the qualifying stages of the 2002 World Cup in Munich.
Here’s a spoiler: England won the game, but that’s not the reason it was so memorable for me. And if football just isn’t your thing, please bear with me… I’ll do a Jerry Maguire on you, in that you don’t have to like the sport to enjoy the story 😉

My husband Keith and I started seeing each other in 2001 when we were still living in London. We had lots of common interests, including a love of football. Rather than watching the upcoming Germany v England match in the pub (as was usual for 20 and 30-somethings living and working in London), we decided to watch it together (just the two of us) in the studio flat he rented alone. The place wasn’t exactly spacious, but it was so sparsely decorated due to his (our) lack of financial wealth that there was plenty of room to swing the proverbial cat.

The match got underway. David Beckham was captain and the referee was the legendary Italian Pierluigi Collina who was fair and probably the best ref in the world, so the match had promise. However, England found themselves down by a goal after just six minutes. It was NOT a good start.

Thankfully, by the end of the second half, we’d come back against our old foes and England were leading 2-1. Keith was hesitantly excited: a one-goal lead is good, but it’s stressful until the final whistle blows (or you score another goal).

Three minutes into the second half Michael Owen scored his second goal (OMG?!) – England were up by THREE goals now.

Keith leapt to his feet and bellowed his approval, punching the air and turning the air a shade of jubilant blue. I was getting to see a whole new side of the man known by his friends as “so laid back he’s horizontal”. But that was nothing compared to the REST of the second half.

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In the 66th minute, Owen scored AGAIN – that meant a hat-trick for him. The idea of England beating Germany by 4 goals to 1, Owen scoring a hat trick AND England having a much better chance of qualifying for the World Cup was too much for Keith.

This time, he not only leapt up, he…

…he pulled off his t-shirt and then pulled off his shorts, running around the room roaring like a lion possessed. Fear not, he wasn’t completely naked (as if).

HE STILL HAD SOCKS ON.

I don’t know which emotion I felt more: the euphoria at England almost certainly winning the match or the hilarity of seeing my new boyfriend experience such overwhelming joy that he had to take all his clothes off to cope with his excitement.

Eight minutes later England scored a FIFTH goal. I honestly can’t remember his reaction to number five, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t stop laughing by that point. The final score was Germany 1, England 5.

I did wonder what would have happened had we watched the match in the pub after all (?!). But that match – and Keith’s impassioned reaction – made me realise that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, tendencies for displays of nudity and all.

In case you’re wondering, it’s never been repeated since (neither a similar thrashing of Germany nor the football-induced streaking). And yes, he gave me permission to share this story…!

 

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TV as therapy, a way to bring people together and a creator of memories

I KNOW that TV gets a bad rep (if it’s watched too much and takes over our lives), but you can’t argue with the fact that so much of our culture and our collective memory involves “things we saw on TV”.

If you need a pick-me-up to help you through something, comedy comes highly recommended.

As does sport (as long as your side is winning).

Water cooler moments – which now translate to WhatsApp group chats as well – have so often involved discussions over the latest episode of Friends, Lost, I’m a Celebrity or Traitors. And many, many more.

We may have so many different ways of watching TV now with all the streaming services as well as live TV, but I can’t see us failing to have even more of these core memories… who knows what the future holds?

Your turn – what are your memorable moments involving TV? Tell me in the comments…!

 

Thanks for reading,

Catherine signature

 

Your TV Licence lets you enjoy a huge range of live TV. It covers you for:

  • All TV channels, like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Dave and international channels – but you don’t need a licence if you only watch non-BBC channels on-demand
  • Pay TV services, like Sky, Virgin Media, and BT – but these are platforms that could have both live and on-demand services
  • Live TV on streaming services, like YouTube and Amazon Prime Video
  • Everything on BBC iPlayer.

This includes recording and downloading. On any device.

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7 Comments

  1. 10 June 2024 / 3:18 pm

    A great bit of reminiscing. I loved Blackadder. I will always remember Super Saturday at the Olympics. I was on my own, the hubster was at a stag do, and I was doing the ironing! I couldn’t believe all those medals. One of my favourite moments ever was seeing David Bowie on TOTPs performing Starman, aged 11 (me, not him). And when ABBA won Eurovision 50 years ago. Thanks for linking x

  2. 1 June 2024 / 9:07 am

    What a delightful trip down memory lane! I completely agree that live TV moments can create such shared joy and lasting memories. For me, the excitement of watching the moon landing with my family is unforgettable. It’s wonderful to see how live TV continues to unite people, even in the age of streaming. Thank you for sharing your favorite moments and reminding us of the unique magic of live broadcasts!

    • Catherine
      Author
      5 June 2024 / 6:34 pm

      Oh Daniel I can only imagine having seen the moon landing live… I have much older siblings and they remember watching it, it must have been just about the most incredible moment ever!

      I agree about live TV still being great despite the advent of streaming. Somehow I find a TV series that is only released as one episode a week still far more exciting than being able to stream a whole series all in one go, I love the “event” of sitting down to watch something at a certain time on a certain day. Is it just the BBC that does this now I wonder…?!

      And thank you, glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Frieda
    28 May 2024 / 7:09 pm

    Thank you for speaking it out, TV can be such a strong glue for relationships and society as a whole! Though as a twenty-something my favorite moments are more connected to shows that are streamed like “A Game of Thrones”. I LOVE the excitement about planning the dates when to watch, the lengthy discussions of the latest episodes at coffee breaks and the carefulness around people who were a few episodes behind. Sadly, this seems to have gone a bit out of fashion and I know a lot of people, who rather shame people for their “bad taste” instead of joining the hype for the fun. Hopefully, the BBC will start a worldwide trend with this campaign.

    • Catherine
      Author
      5 June 2024 / 6:38 pm

      Definitely agree with you on the glue aspect, Frieda! And what is it about discussing episodes next day with friends and colleagues? I can remember being really excited to go into work just to discuss what happened in “X” last night…. but then you have to work, boo 😉

      Anyone who shames anyone for being into anything is not worth bothering with in my opinion: wouldn’t it be boring if we were all into the same stuff?! You miss out on the fun as you say… as the saying goes, You do you! x

  4. Jullie
    28 May 2024 / 7:07 pm

    Charles and Diana’s wedding (watching with 100 other Girl Guides at Guide Camp – it was the first and only time we ever had a TV at Camp)

    Torvill and Dean winning gold at the 1984 Olympics with Bolero.

    • Catherine
      Author
      5 June 2024 / 6:40 pm

      Weirdly I don’t really remember watching their actual wedding on TV, Jullie… just the fireworks in Hyde Park!! I do remember Live Aid: I had a birthday party the same day and we watched loads of it on a small black and white TV that my dad put on a long extension lead into the tent we were sleeping overnight in the garden in. Oh, and YES to T&D winning gold. That was epic!!!

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