The first thing people say when they visit Flo Whitaker’s home is “Where’s the TV?” Unimpressed by television from an early age, Flo still reckons the radio has the best pictures
I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t own a telly - it’s simply never appealed. I grew up in a house with a TV, but the signal in rural Devon was decidedly unreliable. It wasn’t unusual to switch on the set, wait for the valves to warm up and cease their humming, (remember that?) then spend ten minutes watching the ‘snowstorm’ interference before giving up and trotting off to find something else to do. Living yards from the sea, a menacing wall of fog could silently roll into the valley and stubbornly remain for days.
A schoolfriend’s uncle lived in Exeter in a new-build house that, apparently, had fitted carpets, central heating, two lavatories and a powerful TV signal. We listened, astonished and saucer-eyed at this. His home sounded like something from a James Bond movie - not that we’d been able to watch a Bond film recently shown on the telly, (on account of the fog), so a village charabanc outing had been arranged to see one at a local cinema instead - a thrilling prospect!
Unfortunately, the coach broke down, but the cinema kindly arranged another screening the following day. As the coach was still acting temperamental and the sea was flat calm, a small flotilla of assorted boats assembled and we chugged into Lyme Regis a mere 24 hours late, having already consumed the sandwiches intended for the return journey.
I don’t remember much about the film, only that it was noisy, violent and populated with thoroughly unpleasant people. For me, the most exciting part of the outing was the sea voyage and the ice cream interval and I began to form the opinion that stories and pictures are more vivid on the radio. It’s a view I still hold and I’m probably the last person alive that buys the Radio Times … for the radio listings.