Review: Watching Neighbours Twice a Day by Josh Widdicombe

One part a commentary on the best and worst that British television had to offer in the 1990s and one part a memoir of growing up in a small rural town, Watching Neighbours Twice a Day is both hilarious and relatable--even when the author is describing programmes that I have never heard of. The book opens with a discussion of Gus Honeybun's Magic Birthdays, a cheaply made programme which aired on a rural ITV station and featured a human and a rabbit that was intended to wish local kids a happy birthday ... and that may or may not have been misused on a number of occasions by local adults. From there we enter the strange world of 1990s television, an era in which people would still sit down to which television together and streaming your favourite programmes was unheard of. Widdicombe uses the programmes he remembers as a basis to tell the story of his own childhood, growing up in a small town and doing absolutely everything he could not to stand out during his high school years. 

I was familiar with the author mostly from his work on The Last Leg (I sometimes find his comments hilarious,) and that was enough to tempt me to buy a copy of the book. Some of the programmes were immediately familiar to me, The Simpsons gets a mention toward the end and there was a brief point in my childhood where my brother and I both found Beadle's About hilarious. And of course we had our own version of Gladiators. (Same shit, different region.) On the whole, this is an entertaining read that is about television ... or at least about growing up in front of one.



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