If you’ve ever wondered who the new characters in Neighbours are, or what Vic Reeve’s chosen career was, the Penguin TV Companion has the answers. November 2011 marked 75 years of television programming and the release of the fourth edition of this small screen tome.
2,300 television programmes and 1,500 television personalities are listed – including Bob Mortimer, who used to be a solicitor, Les Dawson, who played jazz piano before he was discovered, and Bradley Walsh, who played for Brentford FC.
This factual dictionary of UK television covers elements right from the birth of the medium, including the Toddler’s Truce which was an hour’s break in broadcast designed to allow mothers to put younger children to bed and let older children complete their homework.
The charming nod to family values was soon swept away in 1957 when the channels caved in under pressure to seize audience and filled the slot with The Adventures of Robin Hood on ITV and Tonight on the BBC.
The listings are by no means comprehensive, but do take a measured sample of UK programming right up to the present day, including DCI Banks and The Mentalist as well as nostalgic favourites such as Bananaman (voiced by the Goodies) and Dangermouse (voiced by David Jason).
Now in its fourth edition, this treasure trove of trivia will settle almost any TV-related dispute in the British Isles. A great reference book to keep on the shelf or at the pub for charades and quizzes.
The Penguin TV Companion 4th Edition is out now in the UK in all good bookshops.