OPINION: Huge variety of BBC programmes makes TV licence fee acceptable

Line Of Duty: DS Chris Lomax (PERRY FITZPATRICK), DCI Joanne Davidson (KELLY MACDONALD), DI Steve Ar

Reader Ron Brewer says Line of Duty was a must watch - Credit: BBC

Ron Brewer wonders how unusual his viewing and listening habits are these days

Radio and television have been in the last few weeks, particularly when the BBC decided we wanted to spend all day hearing about the death of Prince Phillip and listening to dreary music.

More recently they have had lots and lots of coverage of some elections and their results. Hours of pontificating on what might happen and then more time minutely analysing what did happen before more discussion on how this will affect our future.

Now I am old enough to have had a free TV licence in the past.

Now I am considered too well off and have to pay once more. So it makes me think about whether I am getting value for my £159 a year. Despite what politicians often say, many of us don’t have smart phones and are happy with just radio and TV.


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I’ve always been interested in radio. In the house where I was grew up, we had just one radio in the whole house, an old circular Echo of the sort you now see on antique programmes (I wonder where that went to, it would be worth a fortune now).

I’d snuggle up to it listening to Children’s Hour and the Goon Show while the rest of the family were doing their own thing all around me. I was doing BBC audience research while still at school, regularly filling in little forms, saying what I’d listened to and how much I’d liked it before posting the information back to London

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Now in my little bungalow I have three televisions.

Reader Ron Brewer says the combination of BBC radio and TV offers plenty of variety 

Reader Ron Brewer says the combination of BBC radio and TV offers plenty of variety - Credit: Ron Brewer

One with a screen that is quite big enough for me but it is not so huge that the neighbours across the road can join in my viewing. The other two would be considered small these days but they are quite big enough.

Then I have a PC with a big screen and a small tablet computer meaning I can watch television programmes via BBC iPlayer wherever I like around the house, either live ones or those that I have recorded.

What about radios? I was surprised how many there were when I counted them up. There are three that are DAB plus at least eight other radios – including a bedside clock radio, a shower radio, my music centre and of course the radio in the car and even my simple mobile phone allows me to pick up radio stations.

What do I listen to? It’s Radio 4 when I wake up to see if there is any really important news.

By 8am I’m eating my breakfast and listening to Radio Three. There is a real eclectic range of music to be heard there these days, you are just as likely to be listening to Flanders and Swan or Cleo Lane than the usual classical pieces.

At 9am it is then back to Radio 4. As a mere male I learn so much by listening to Women’s Hour whenever I can. If only I had done this when I was much younger then I would have understood more about how the female mind can work at times.

I never watch breakfast television as I have a daily broadsheet newspaper and the EDP to read to get some detailed facts and background on what I’ve heard on the radio news.

The television (BBC1) will usually go on as I’m getting my lunch to watch just the auction at the end of Bargain Hunt (as I get annoyed by that so-called negotiating of prices for the ‘bargains’) and the television will then stay on for the lunch time news when I then expect to fall asleep by the time the local news comes on.

There are some favourite ‘must see’ programmes. There is the emotional Repair Shop where tears are shed and none of the old relatives dies, they all pass away or have been ‘lost’. Monday evenings on BBC2 has long been a favourite as it was quiz night with Mastermind, Only Connect and University Challenge to stir up the brain.

The Sunday evening pairing of Countryfile followed by the Antiques Roadshow is always worth watching. And if I’m still awake, a dose of Newsnight makes you consider the news in much greater depth.

I was persuaded to watch the recent Line of Duty series. This was the first time I’d seen it and I’m not sure I understood the dialogue and the plot but the filming and the acting was superb.

Any programmes that I like on the commercial channels are recorded to watch at a later time. Then I can fast forward through all the advertisements and get through a one hour program in about 40 minutes.

Do you think I get my money’s worth and that the £159 is well spent?

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