Friday, January 23, 2015

My TV



More than once I've proudly announced mentioned that I don't have a TV. John and I got rid of our TV a few years ago when we realized we were paying $140 a month for programming that didn't interest us enough to actually watch it.

But just because I don't have a TV doesn't mean I don't watch my favorite shows in the evening. 

Embedded above is the first episode of "Tudor Monastery Farm," a BBC documentary series. Historian Ruth Goodman is joined by archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold to make up a trio of unlikely TV stars. They show us how life was lived by poor people in the Tudor era. It wasn't all Henry VIII and his wives.

I ate that show like ice cream.

Then I moved on to "Secrets of the Castle," and watched my friends learn how to build a 13th century French castle with nothing but the materials that were available 800 years ago.


With popular "historical" TV, films and fiction about England and France, we often learn about royalty and politics, but rarely do we get a view of the common people. It might have been all fancy balls and intrigue at court, but most other places it was just plain work.

Now I'm watching Tales from the Green Valley, shot on a 16th century Welsh farm. It's apparent that this show was done earlier than the first two because Tom isn't in it. Peter is younger and for some reason they're calling him "Fonz."


After this I'll move on to "Victorian Farm," then "Edwardian Farm," then maybe "WWII Farm," which doesn't interest me quite as much. But Ruth, Tom, Peter and their guest stars—thatchers, pig experts, millers, stonemasons, etc.—are enthusiastic, charming and real, and I will follow my new favorite stars anywhere, even to the muddy fields of the mid-20th century.

This is my kind of TV.


28 comments:

Irina Rekhviashvili said...

BBC movies and TV are always so well done, so full with humanism and good taste.
Maybe you were a farmer in previous life, now you are recognizing the surroundings?
Thank you for the links, I will try some ice-cream today, too.

Sarah said...

Oh my! I may never leave the house again...

William Kendall said...

I watch so little television that I've just taken to watching what I want by computer- why bother with a cable bill since I don't watch much and am rarely home anyway?

Petrea Burchard said...

I agree, Irina. I'm so glad I can get some of these great BBC programs on my computer. Let me know what you think of the shows!

Sarah, I know the feeling!

That's it on the nose, William.

altadenahiker said...

I miss commercials. I feel a bit left out of some cultural ref's.

Petrea Burchard said...

Maybe I was never cool. The difference is now I embrace my inner nerd.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

You should consider heading over to one of the historical reenactment events they put up in San Pedro. Mostly an emphasis on military - but they cover all periods. Including those that put up booths with the implements of the era they're obsessed with. I was familiar with survival on Ale and salted meats... but the havoc it played on health (male health) well lets just call the cure torture. All I know is I'm grateful to live in a time of dentistry

btw: regular TV on a 100 dollar plasma TV with a 30 dollar antenna is fine. Better then ever in terms of variety. Tons of PBS stations (more then cable offers).

Petrea Burchard said...

I do miss PBS. The best American channel ever.

I didn't know about those reenactments in San Pedro. But I like that kind of stuff even if it's not accurate (I love Ren Faire).

dive said...

That sounds like good research for a new book, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's all food for the imagination, Dive. Did they come out to Norfolk? That's a show I'd love to see.

Escapist said...

Oh I miss that part of my life,now I hardly watch TV and the progrms,,,

Petrea Burchard said...

I used to like sitting on the couch and watching TV. Now I like sitting in my armchair and surfing the web.

Ms M said...

Sound like fascinating shows -- and, as mentioned before, a good way to research a book... ;-)

Shell Sherree said...

I still have a TV ~ just free-to-air and there are plenty of good programmes available ~ but I watch a bit of 'catch up TV' online for programmes I've missed. Such a handy invention ! Having read the very smart and entertaining Camelot & Vine {priceless and available for a steal of only $20 right now in the sidebar}, I see why these ones appeal to you so much, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

I use all avenues available to me, Ms M. ;)

Shell, you're kind to point out my sidebar, where folks can get signed copies of my books, including postage "handling." (Handling is taxes, packing and driving to the post office.) If folks want a cheaper copy all they have to do is click on the book covers above the "buy now" buttons and fly to Amazon, where paperback and ebook are both available.

llandudnopictures said...

We pay for £145.50 per year for a TV licence, and £50+ per month subscriptions for satellite TV... television viewing doesn't come cheap in the UK!

Petrea Burchard said...

I guess it doesn't come cheap anywhere. Is the BBC part of that, or is it a separate thing?

Ann Erdman said...

I still have cable although I don't watch much TV. The few shows I do follow faithfully are not on standard network TV. I find those CBS, NBC, ABC shows mindless and formulaic compared to offerings on BBC America, PBS, FX, etc.

Bellis said...

You've given me an idea! Get rid of the TV part of Charter Cable. We never watch anything except Masterpiece Mystery and Downton Abbey, and now we have an Apple TV device, it's time to work out how to project our laptop viewing onto the big screen. We pay for Basic Charter Cable and they've cut out so many channels that there's almost nothing to watch.

I didn't realize that the BBC license fee had gone up as high as that! But now I live in the US, I think it's worth it - this tax enables the BBC to make incredibly good and innovative programs free from the "censorship" of advertisers and the ratings they demand.

In Britain, history programs are the most popular nowadays. There's also a wonderful BBC History magazine that I buy every time I'm in England.

And finally.....why can't we see Wolf Hall on PBS now it's running on the BBC in the UK? I can't wait till May!

llandudnopictures said...

Petrea, the TV licence is solely for the BBC!

Petrea Burchard said...

Not a bad deal!

Bellis said...

The licence fee pays for BBC radio as well - a decent talk station, a more low-brow talk station, a pop music station, a classical music station, some local ones and the BBC World Service. The public radio and TV stations here, the ones that don't carry adverts, rely on donations from us and it adds up. I'd rather pay an annual fee for good TV and radio than have weeks of fundraising instead of the usual programmes.

Irina Rekhviashvili said...

I watched Tudor farm, part 1, today and want to say big, big thank you! It is so enlightening, sobering and educating for me, and people, making this kind of TV, are great.
And here is my new discovery, very slow Norwegian slow TV, example is here http://youtu.be/m7rWhCqsh2I so very relaxing and meditative and beautiful. I heard they had also programs on real time knitting and fireplace..

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you for that link, Irina. I look forward to watching it in full. On the youtube screen I also saw links to videos of other routes, all starting with "Train Driver's view."

Katie said...

Thanks for the links! I'm definitely a sucker for cool shows like this (esp the Tudor farm one). Speaking of suckers, I still pay for basic cable (as paying for internet alone would cost almost as much as cable + tv, and since I do like watching live baseball and BBC America, I guess I'll keep the tv). I couldn't live without netflix though (streaming + 1 DVD for all the non-streaming shows I want to watch). Did you know that most PBS shows are available on their website? I'm currently watching Grantchester online, as it's on from 10-11 on Sundays and I end up falling asleep and missing most of it.

Petrea Burchard said...

I didn't know that about PBS, Katie! Now my life is complete.

Katie said...

PBS mostly has current shows online, usually for a limited period, starting the day after airing. I do believe that Wolf Hall starts Sunday April 5, so check online April 6 and you should be able to watch it. At least that's what I'm counting on as I'll be out of town until April 7 and will need to watch the first episode online (or else I'm sure I'll be hopelessly lost as I hear that lots of characters have the same name).

Petrea Burchard said...

As I recall from my readings about the period, there is a Henry and everyone else is named Thomas.