The ordinary people of Britain

The emergence of television as a mass medium of communication was the key turning point in improving leisure opportunities for the ordinary people of Britain’ Frani?? ois Bedaria has described the emergence of television of television as an ‘absolute revolution’. Television today is extremely different from how it was on its first regular transmissions back in the 1950’s. Today, there are five main TV channels to choose from and over one hundred cable and satellite channels from a wide range or digital packages available.

It is also evident that watching television is considered the main leisure activity as recent surveys have portrayed. The General Household Survey of 2002 collected data from adults. It was a review of the most popular leisure activities to do at home. 99% of people interviewed said they considered watching television to be the main source of leisure. This is a staggering amount compared to what this number would have been just Thirty years earlier; in 1970 25% of all leisure time was spent watching television. It is also estimated that the average UK person watches around twenty five hours of television every week.

From the statistical research, it is highly apparent that television can be considered the most widely participated in leisure opportunity within the home. To help one establish a sufficient argument for this question, it is imperative to define the key words within the proposed statement. A ‘key turning point’ is classified as an event which causes an absolute change in the fabric of society. A ‘leisure opportunity’ is expressed as a time for ease and relaxation in which there is a chance to participate in a hobby. Traditionally, activities taken part in during leisure opportunities may have been gardening, cooking, reading and sports.

However, over the past 50 years with the ever growing availability of mass communication these activities may be less favourable and replaced by watching television, listening to music or playing computer games and browsing the internet. One must understand that it is extremely challenging to define the ‘ordinary person’ as there are a range of factors which must be taken into consideration. For example, Britain is a multi – cultural society, people are in varied positions in dissimilar jobs, therefore income may be wide-ranging and some families are larger than others.

However, I have used statistical evidence from research to attempt to identify the modern average person. Firstly, the average person is usually in their first or second marriage with an approximate family size of two children. Secondly, the typical ordinary person would be working either within a managerial, professional or clerical role. Prior to World War Two, there had been some major developments in the world of media. The first cinematic performance in Britain took place in 1896, and by the end of this year moving images were used in many musical shows across the country.

This signified the start of what was to become the most popular leisure activity up until the invention of television. By 1910 there were 1600 working cinemas in Britain and by 1914 this was 4000. Up until World War two cinemas were receiving an average of 20million admittances per week. It was the invention of film which some historians consider to be the turning point for the improvement in leisure opportunities. Channon once said ‘The modern world almost seems to have begun with the birth of film, at any rate in retrospect.

Because we are used to seeing images of the First World War, the First World War seems to be part of the modern period. But anything more than twenty years earlier than that belongs to an era which we easily feel to be lost’. As well as cinema becoming a form of mass communication in the early century, the radio also became a popular form of entertainment. In 1922 the BBC was set up in order to ‘educate, inform and entertain the public’ in the form of the wireless. By 1925 radio could be heard throughout the UK. In its first year on air the BBC had broadcast plays, classical music concerts, talks and variety programmes.

By 1938 9 million people owned radios, this was three quarters of Britain’s population. Although television is not seen as a form of mass media prior to World War two, it must not be forgotten that it still existed. The first television had in fact been invented in 1908; however, the television wasn’t given its first public broadcast until 1925. The television wasn’t as successful as it would become after the war, possibly because receivers were too expensive or people were simply not interested in what was being broadcast, as very little was shown on television at this time.

In fact, statistics show that less than 10,000 households owned televisions prior to the war. Once the Second World War had arrived, changes were to be made within the media industry. Firstly, 1939 saw the suspension of the television service; to prevent the opportunity for spying. Secondly, radio saw huge audience changes. In 1940 the BBC transformed itself to correspond with its new audience. Instead of the audience being middle class families, it became an audience of workers listening from the factories.

The most popular programmes were the home service and the national forces service. The style and content of these new broadcasts made radio become more popular. With the suspension of television and no other course of leisure available, cinema attendances saw their peak during the war. By 1945 there were 4,732 cinemas open nationwide. This is the biggest amount of cinema screens open Britain has ever seen. As well as the amount of cinemas available, the war also symbolised the cinema industry’s peak admittances.

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