Please Enjoy This 1983 BBC Explanation of 'American Breakfast Television'

Illustration for article titled Please Enjoy This 1983 BBC Explanation of 'American Breakfast Television'

Here is a treat: A 1983 explanation by the BBC of that most curious American custom, the morning television show.


The clip was resurfaced yesterday by the BBC’s Twitter account devoted to its archives. At the time, the BBC was working on launching its own “breakfast television program,” and covering this story for a UK audience required explaining the concept thereof. Here’s their rather shady opening: “A nation wakes up to the start of another day. 15 million Americans lean over, and switch on their television sets.”

It’s morning in America, and we’re a bunch of bleary-eyed TV zombies!

The announcer continued with the explanation that, “The programs are glib and folksy,” and “Breakfast viewing is now an established habit in America—people drift from the set in the lounge to the set in the kitchen, dipping in and out of the morning’s offerings, picking up their news and the persistent message of the advertisers who pay for it.” Said the BBC’s director-general designate—a man named “Alasdair Milne”— “Well, I have a fairly strong view that unlike the American situation where they drift around their big houses with all their television sets listening to it rather than watching, that people actually will sit down and watch it.”

“Because in America people have other television sets which they have in their big kitchens and so on,” notes the announcer. “Does that apply in this country, do you think?” (Milne expresses confidence that Britons will either acquire a small, modest, properly British black-and-white television or move their set to watch, given the chance.)

Please enjoy this bit of throwback cultural rubbernecking.

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel


“Drift around their big houses.”

I didn’t know that was a stereotype about us.