Media and the Memory
We all know – or think we know - that family life during the second half of the twentieth century revolved increasingly around the television set that formed such a prominent feature – often the primary focus - of the nation’s living rooms. From the late 1960s onwards, those television sets were increasingly ubiquitous. The content they broadcast was frequently the common currency of popular culture. Audiences for the most popular programmes, or for broadcasts of important national and international events, were numbered in the tens of millions. Overwhelmingly, the television during these decades was, or seemed to be, the main window through which Britain looked at itself and looked out on the world. From the perspective of the second decade of the 21st century, that period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s now looks like the golden age of television. Since then, the dominant role of the television as the primary medium of entertainment, exchange and information has been fragmenting under the impact of new media technologies. Few, if any, television events nowadays have an audience reach that comes even near the peak audiences of the 1970s or 1980s. We look elsewhere for news and celebrity gossip. The proliferation of channels now means that no programme has the reach that could be achieved then.
This seemed like a good time therefore to look back at this golden age of television and ask people to record their memories of what television had meant for them, their families and their communities. That is what ‘Memory and Media in Wales’ set out to do. The project aimed to collect and archive oral testimony relating to the age of television in Wales and solicit memories of significant television moments in politics and in culture. By focussing on four distinct and distinctive geographical and linguistic communities we would seek to provide a spectrum of memories that represented a national collective memory of television in Wales. We wanted to know what our interviewees remembered (and what they didn’t). We wanted to know where they watched great moments on television and with whom. We wanted to know what they thought about the impact television had on their everyday lives. In other words we wanted to put some flesh on the bones of some of our common assumptions about the ways in which television has transformed us. This website is the result of that project.