Christmas has changed for me over the years, from the excited, little, fresh-faced kid with Subbuteo (and tube of UHU glue) to the worn-out parent, with the jaunty paper hat and half-empty glass of beer.
One of the things that hasn’t changed, at least in our house, is the bumper, double issue Christmas Radio Times. Wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Check out some of the older covers, some are so familiar it feels like yesterday that I was thumbing through them to find It’s a Wonderful Life.
Until the deregulation of television listings in 1991, everybody I knew bought the Radio and TV Times (also a double issue at Christmas) The Radio Times published only BBC programmes and the TV Times, only ITV and Channel 4. During the holiday season, to keep track of what was on TV, both had to be read, the unwritten rule being: You must fold them into each other to re-access quickly.
Satellite and Cable services also forced RT to change, moving the Radio information to a separate section near the back and listing digital services on the pages following terrestrial channels.
I began subscribing to cable TV services in about 2001, and with that came a very handy on-screen, programme guide. The guide only shows the next 24 hours of programmes but it’s quick and it’s easy to set reminders, switching channels at the start of the programme. Bundled in is Catch-up TV, BBC iPlayer and TV on Demand, all make by-passing the schedules easy, but I still had to buy the Christmas RT.
This year I took delivery of a HD recordable box. In addition to viewing the programme guide, I can set it to record the selected programme at the push of a button. It can also pause live TV – Nightmare – it’s like Groundhog Day when the kids get hold of it.
Radio Times is also available as a website. The site clearly has more than a hat-tip to the BBC site with a panel-style interface and rounded corners. The schedules have hCalendar microformats (remember them) so you could add your programme watching habits to Google or any other iCal enabled calendar.
This isn’t the first publication to go digital, but I hope they never pull the hard copy like PHPArchitect have just done.
New technology! Bah humbug, give me the Radio Times to fall asleep to on Christmas day every year!