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A Leave Vote and Why it Could be the More Entertaining Option

22/06/2016 10:42 | Updated 22 June 2016

In a sense, the Prime Minister is to be congratulated. The last person who ignited such an interest in politics was Guy Fawkes. Although look what happened to him. Forget hanging, drawing and quartering ( who shouted "Shame?"), at least the worst fate likely to befall Cameron is that he's hung out to dry by the Tories.

Whether or not the whole European referendum blows up in his face, it has highlighted an important issue about Britain. At our heart, we aren't a forward thinking country. On the contrary, we're a nation constantly looking back on itself to a past which is infinitely more glorious than our present and indeed our future.

Forget nationalism, what this vote is really about is nostalgia. The sort much in evidence when I recently caught a repeat of The Good Old Days on BBC 4.

As Ken Dodd entertained the Edwardian attired theatre audience (part of its shtick) with another music hall favourite, it occurred to me that whatever other societal changes our membership of the EU has resulted in, it's also transformed our telly viewing habits.

By embracing series such as Wallender, The Killing, Borgen, The Returned, The Bridge and Deutschland '83 to name but a few, the Europhile cultural elites among us have helped to create an appetite for languid and thoughtful - some say boring - programming. This has even had a knock on effect with the creation of homegrown shows like The Fall and Broadchurch.

All of which begs the following questions: What happened to the time when British TV was truly, well, British and might we ever see its return?

Here are 10 shows from yesteryear to fill those who are old enough to recall them with a misty-eyed wistfulness.

10- Dixon of Dock Green. Running from 1955 to 1976, it starred Jack Warner as George Dixon, a uniformed policeman on the beat; the kind of benevolent 'bobby' any Home Secretary would have wet dreams over.

9- Take Your Pick. The first televised quiz show to offer money to the public, it gave contestants the chance to win small sums, culminating with the choice to take the cash or open a box, which contained either a prize worth having (a washing machine) or one definitely not worth having (the leadership of the Labour Party).

8- Department S. Featuring Peter Wyngarde as Jason King, a flamboyant author turned sleuth and apparent ladies man whose taste in clothes and facial hair in fact gave him the appearance of a cross between Quentin Crisp and Tom of Finland.

7- Opportunity Knocks. For aspiring stars, there was no other talent contest to appear on. A forerunner to Britain's Got Talent, which owes it a huge debt of gratitude, it was hosted by the smarmy Hughie Green whose catchphrase was: "And I mean that most sincerely", delivered, of course, with all the insincerity of an aspiring MP.

6- Hancock's Half Hour and latterly Hancock. To witness true comic genius at work, watch the magnificent Tony Hancock in The Blood Donor. Over 50 years old and genuinely funny, it remains richly deserving of its now legendary status.

5- The Saint. Moore, Moore, Moore. How did we like it? How did we like it? Quite a lot actually. After he was Ivanhoe, before he was Lord Brett Sinclair and James Bond, the former knitwear model was Simon Templer for 8 years. We can almost forgive his use of the Swedish manufactured Volvo P1800. Just.

4- Steptoe and Son. Galton and Simpson's masterly scripts about two rag and bone men who were played to perfection by the Wifred Brambell and Harry H. Corbett, who out of interest wasn't the same Harry Corbett famous for having his hand up Sooty's backside.

3- The Avengers. Not the current film franchise one beloved by Marvel meatheads, this was The Avengers from the 1960s starring Patrick Macnee as gentlemen agent, John Steed, equipped with nothing more than a brolly and a bowler to fight crime. Try that Captain America.

2- The Benny Hill Show. Criticised for being sexist, it certainly had its fair share of knockers, but the seductive mix of seaside double entendres, burlesque and slapstick kept legions of fans entertained from 1955 to 1991.

1- The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. This variety show set in a fictional Northern working men's club was presented by Colin Crompton and Bernard Manning, who in particular was known for his socially aware, politically correct, pro-feminist style of standup. (N.B: the last statement may not be strictly accurate).

So there we have it. Come Friday, Britain might no longer be great, but given the right decision at the ballot box, its television could again be. I know which way I'm voting.

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