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Oh, Carole

Television is no longer Britain's cultural unifier. But it has left me with a stock of tender personal memories and a special fondness for Carole the test card girl

By Stuart Jeffries   March 2000

After the war, there were great hopes for television in Britain. It would hold this crumbling kingdom together by supplying moving images direct to the living room, straight into the otherwise impenetrable heart of British life. But few of us then contemplated that, as a result, our living rooms would be full of Ena Sharples, Albert Steptoe and Basil Fawlty. Or that nationwide television would connect the individuals of Britain through soap operas and sitcoms, and through a shared cultural memory densely criss-crossed with television catchphrases, game shows, stuffed bears, cookery programmes, costume dramas, cop shows, “and finallys,” or fly-on-the-wall…

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