Culture House Daily

TV snobs hate the telly because it’s watched by those born on the wrong side of the tracks

9 June 2014

9 June 2014

Growing up in the 1970s I watched as much TV as humanly possible. When we had important visitors to the house my mum would merely turn down the volume, and by the time we went to bed you could have fried an egg on the screen.

Now that I am a middle-aged, middle-class professional the only thing that has changed is I watch even more of it. I have a TV in my bedroom, in the kitchen, lounge, and access to it on my phone, iPad and laptop. But all my adult life, since I began mixing with educated, privileged people, I have been plagued by TV snobs.

You know the type: if you admit to watching Coronation Street, or Eastenders, you are treated as though you walked straight off Jeremy Kyle. But The Archers – because it’s on Radio 4 and about rural characters rather than chav townies – is perfectly acceptable. TV snobs hate the telly because the relentless, unconditional consumption of it is carried out by those of us born on the wrong side of the tracks, and because it gives us a voice. Working-class people get on all the quiz shows such as the marvellous Cash in the Attic, and can even become stars after a stint on Big Brother or Geordie Shore. Gone are the days when the only folk seen on telly were posh and white.

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If I am raving about the latest episode of something, the TV snob will not merely tell me that they’ve not seen it, but will also announce that they do not have a TV, unable to hide their proud, superior smugness at divulging this information.

‘I don’t have the time’ and ‘It’s a waste of my time – I can do other things while listening to the radio’ are two of the most common responses. But what the TV snob means is that they are busier and  more important and cultured than me. Ironically there’s plenty on telly for TV snobs these days. Whole channels are devoted to art, opera and gardening.

The TV snob will have a telly somewhere in their Farrow and Ball painted house, but it will be an old portable, hidden away like a lecherous uncle at a family party, with a vase of rough cut roses perched on top. They don’t mind watching something educational, such as a documentary about the Rwandan conflict with Arabic sub-titles, but will switch off before they are sullied with the theme tune to Man v. Food. They will, however, happily listen to that puerile shite while a load of posh twats whinge on about stupid things on Radio 4.

On the occasion when TV snobs stay at my home and something such as a rerun of Gavin and Stacey comes on, they will perch their hessian mules on the coffee table and affect the look of a skinny woman in a restaurant who has just decided to have the ‘death by chocolate’ pudding. It is a guilty pleasure for them. Reading a book is, of course, a far better use of their time.

I may never be able to explain to the TV snob my excitement at the episode of Footballers’ Wives where Chardonnay set fire to her synthetic Bristols, but if they’re happy to sit reading Proust while the dulcet tones of an over-educated radio presenter pollutes the room, then let them stew in their own elitist juice.

Follow Julie Bindel on Twitter @bindelj

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Show comments
  • mahsa

    Well done on beating the crap out of that straw man.

    لیزینگ خودرو – <a – تور چین

  • LucieCabrol

    Why are we even talking about TV when it is already dying….beaten to death by you- tube, the web and sky.

  • LucieCabrol

    We had our tele in a special antiqued cabinet and the doors were shut when guests arrived…..we pretended the enormous, hideous box squatting in the corner wasn’t there…..lower middle class…moi?

  • heather harvey

    she’s spot on – and this is very funny, I should be offended as I’m guilty of a lot of what she describes but it’s well observed and funny so just enjoy

  • Cyril Sneer

    I have a tv but no tv licence. I can’t receive normal telly as my aerial doesn’t work, but that’s not the reason why I don’t have a tv licence. Even if my aerial did work, I still wouldn’t pay the licence because the BBC will never see another penny of my money… ever.

    I don’t miss tv, not a bit. Nevertheless I’ll be looking for dodgy websites where I can see England’s first WC game on Saturday night.

  • manonthebus

    Well I dislike today’s TV because it is full of rubbish. I don’t care who watches it. More fool them.

  • Bonkim

    I am not a snob and I don’t watch all the trash programmes shown on the many channels available to those that wish to immerse themselves in TV. Seriously much of it is trash and made for mindless zombies.

    • post_x_it

      Haven’t you read the article? You may not be a snob, but you’re most definitely a “TV snob”. Get used to it.

      • Bonkim

        Don’t give a damn what others say or attach silly labels.

      • Cyril Sneer

        He’s a snob because he doesn’t watch the X Factor, he’d rather watch something that doesn’t insult his intelligence.

        I’m a snob too then.

  • Fraser Bailey

    I don’t have a TV – not even a hidden one. I haven’t had one for 15 years. I don’t want one. I do not watch on iPlayer or whatever it is. I refuse to have one because to have one I have to give money to the evil and wasteful BBC. And because 95% of TV is garbage. I genuinely do have better things to do.

  • Puss in Plimsolls

    My god. I haven’t watched broadcast TV — regularly, cause I had the reception and got the channels — since I was a teenager. I cherry-pick the best on DVD. It’s the only way to be for an intelligent H _mo (sapiens, that is: the Speccie auto-moderator didn’t get it (head-slap)).

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Snob comes from the Latin sine nobilitate ( s.nob.). I understand over the years of course, the s.nob. that might otherwise be stuck on the end of one’s name has ended up with the opposite meaning to most people.

    But I too hate TV generally – apart from Lazy town of course , which is great.

  • clevispin


  • Jethro Asquith

    Sounds to me like you are the real snob here

  • Grey Wolf

    TV is a big part of the propaganda apparatus that keep the proles stupid, lulled and docile. The metropolitan, globalist progressive leadership would want nothing more than keeping us glued to our TV sets watching banal and inane shows and personalities. Most of the shows are not entertaining in any which way.

    • post_x_it

      Congratulations buddy, you now fall under Julie’s definition of a “TV snob”.

    • Gergiev

      And I thought Julie was making it up…

    • Kitty MLB

      Indeed. Its imperative that if one is esoteric, unconventional and has little
      grey cells that wish to dance around with joy that you need to be very selective
      with TV programmes. A lot have been dumbed down, they are unimaginative,
      lazy, discombobulating and dull rather like the people who watch them.
      Endless soaps, reality shows, chat shows, quiz shows & brainwashing.
      English people used to be individual, have a sense of humour, not be politically correct and be eccentric.. what the devil happened.

      • Grey Wolf

        In a strange way even as the English won they lost.

        They won the second world war (read Peter Hitchens and a few others as to the stupidity of why we even got involved) and the Cold War but yielded easily to Cultural Marxism (worth reading about if you have not).

      • girondas

        I always thought that the word discombobulate was invented by Blackadder.
        No TV in my attic Kitty,so I just sit there and contemplate the depths of my eccentricity

        • Kitty MLB

          Dr Samuel Johnson said that word. I adore that man. Oh whilst
          you are still deservedly in your attic ( a week now) and as you
          don’t have any TV to occupy you, you can think upon these
          words from Dr Samuel Johnson:
          No man can taste the fruits of autumn, whilst he has delighted
          his scent with the flowers of spring.
          Something else for a crusty old eccentric to ponder, whilst in his attic with nothing but dusty ancient tomes and silver cobwebs to keep him company.

          • girondas

            I was hoping you might visit me in my attic
            PS: I’m better looking than Dr Johnson

            • Kitty MLB

              It would be unwise to visit such a sybaritic person. Besides
              I must remain a riddle wrapped in mystery. Although it might
              be possible to visit you on a transcendental level.Just think of winter jasmine, small cats, literature and then concentrate on
              reflecting upon the reason why you remain in that dark attic.
              So you are better looking then Dr Samuel Johnson are you?
              modesty is so very attractive in a chap.
              I’d like to point out that he’s been dwelling in the farthest
              of the concentric spheres for quite a while I don’t
              suppose the witty and wise gentleman had retained his
              exquisite looks.

      • LucieCabrol

        drink and drive…..

        • Kitty MLB

          ‘drink and drive’ Oh, I shall have to ponder
          on that one.

  • Sara Maguire

    I’m not sure which is more rude – keeping the telly on while visitors come (especially in these days when you can catch it again later in the week) or hessian footwear on the coffee table – and there’s something beautiful about the juxtaposition of Gavin & Stacey and a coffee table. But really, are there still TV snobs like this who ‘don’t own a TV’? The same sort of people who refuse to own a mobile phone in case it brings them into contact with others, perhaps?

    • allymax bruce

      I’ve gone at least 1 year without a tv; albeit because I was homeless. But still, I realised I never missed a thing; other than being a brain-dead Capitalist Commodity for a year!
      I don’t watch tv now anyway; up here in Scotland it’s all negative BBC crap.

      • Puss in Plimsolls

        Don’t blame free markets: it’s equality-thinking-a-go-go that contributes to so much tat.

    • juliebindel

      I only watch TV with visitors if they come to stay for their own convenience, i.e. because they are in London for couple of days and need a spare room. If it is my mates that I have invited over, it is a different matter, although most agree with me about the telly anyway and love it. And yes, there really are TV snobs who brag that they don’t own a set, and they are NEVER from working class stock!

      • monty61

        Well I don’t own a TV and am certainly from working class stock. However just because I was born working class shouldn’t condemn me to watching tedious rubbish. Some of us got an education and managed to escape all that.

    • monty61

      I don’t have a TV. The reason is it’s complete rubbish and to buy a licence only encourages the people who make this rubbish to make even more of it. I’m not sure I’d argue it’s a class thing as property, antiques and gardening shows irritate me just as much as those awful identikit soaps where everyone wears makeup and the women spend all their time shouting at henpecked/shifty blokes, while TV history & science are utterly shallow and predictable.

      If a drama series is good enough I will get to hear about it after a few seasons and buy/borrow the box set. News can be got from newspapers,web sites, and the radio. The only time I ever miss TV is on election night. Apart from a brief period with small kids I’ve been without one since the 90s. And I’m doing just fine.

      On radio, I have to say I agree with the general consensus the Archers has gone downhill but Ithen also have to admit I wasn’t a regular listener to that either, while radio ‘comedy’ on R4 is now tedious in the extreme. (Tired old formats like Just a minute and I’m sorry I haven’t a clue should be taken out and shot forthwith).

      My guilty pleasure is a properly serious 2-channel hifi system and several rooms full of musical instruments. Far more rewarding than passively soaking up mindless cra*p.

      • Puss in Plimsolls

        Some TV is very rewarding — mainly the non-agenda nature documentaries, and sometimes (when they don’t pander to the sex-obsessed illiterates) history programs.

  • Bert3000

    “On the occasion when TV snobs stay at my home and something such as a rerun of Gavin and Stacey comes on…”

    People with manners turn the TV off when they’ve got visitors.

  • James Morrison

    Well done on beating the crap out of that straw man.

  • JonBW

    Well up to a point.

    However, ‘The Archers’ is fast losing its traditional audience (it’s like “Brookside-on-the-Wolds” these days), there are many ‘TV snobs’ who’d regard most ‘cultural programming’ as ‘dumbed-down’ and there is very little ‘quality drama’ that is given the sort of reception that ‘Brideshead Revisited’, ‘Tinker, tailor, Soldier, Spy’ or even ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ received.

    I’m afraid that the simple fact is that some of us don’t like very much (any) of what we see on TV because we don’t think it’s very good; if you do, great, but perhaps your approach is what used to be described as inverted snobbery?

    • allymax bruce

      Yeh, I listened to an interview of the lead-writer of The Archers, try to convince Radio 4 listeners, that his ‘new & contemporary’ themes of Archers, were what the Public wanted; absolute bolllocks! It’s all about brainwashing the populace; the twenty-something oxbridge grad’ is only ‘doing-his-duty’ and plying the masses with pretensions more’.

      • Kitty MLB

        Dear Ally, I do remember a couple of years ago there were complaints
        that The Archers were not politically correct enough ( not enough black people on the radio) and last year
        complains from mothers that the ” animal noises” were upsetting
        their sensitive little children. It’s a funny old world, that we inhabit.

  • post_x_it

    What a load of rubbish, Julie. The point of this article is to invent a cartoon character called “TV Snob”, imagine what he’s like, and then rant about why you hate him.
    There are, and I’m sure you know this perfectly well, countless potential reasons why someone may or may not want to watch the same programmes you enjoy. Some people don’t watch any telly, some people just don’t share your tastes, and some might share some of your favourites but not others. De gustibus non est disputandum, and why don’t you leave it at that and go and get a proper job.

  • Cymrugel

    I agree.
    I have never understood the snobbery about watching TV as if it precludes doing anything else. In fact quite a few films and TV shows encouraged me to read the books they were based on.
    I have never understood the Archers either. They are supposed to be a community of farmers yet everyone sounds upper middle class with the exception of the Grundys who have their own 00-arrh style yokel accent.
    Its about as realistic as the telletubbies.

    • allymax bruce

      It (The Archers), doesn’t ‘work’ now; the BBC lead-writer has made a right Cymrugel of it.

  • paulhaine

    Maybe next you can do one about how the other queues at the Post Office always seem like they’re moving faster than the one you’re in.

    • LucieCabrol

      when did you last go into a post office…they have one queue now.

  • paulhaine

    This reads like someone sat on a bus ranting at people only they can see.

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