Follow me down Memory Lane, first right into Nostalgia Street, then left up Reminiscence Avenue . . .
Before the idea of 24-hour rolling news channels gestated in the mind of some media ‘genius’ with too much time on his hands, television broadcasters occasionally interrupted programmes with a “News Flash”.
One minute viewers would be watching “Starsky And Hutch” or “3-2-1!” Then, suddenly, the screen would go blank and a continuity announcer would say in a solemn voice, “We now go over to our news room for a News Flash”.
They were words that would make genteel old ladies in Spa towns reach for the gin bottle with shaking hands, because every time it happened, viewers worried World War Three had started.
Today, we’re so used to ‘Breaking News’ (about anything from a light dusting of snow to the death of a fashion designer most of us have never heard of) that we barely look up from our collector’s edition (only one was published, or indeed necessary) of “Kamikaze Pilot Monthly”.
A News Flash had more effect on the digestive system than a bowl of bran flakes as it signified something really importanthad happened, such as the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy; the death of Winston Churchill; and (I know this because a friend of mine worked for the company) Vehicle and General Insurance suddenly going into liquidation in 1971.
Their one million customersleft without insurance cover were firmly told, “Get your cars off the road . . . immediately!
24-hour rolling news channels, breakfast television and irritating ‘news updates’ that certain channels drop in between orin the middle of programmes, have consigned News Flashes to history, along with the lute, public executions and families happy to sit in restaurants without checking their mobile phones every five minutes.
Now . . . don’t get me started on rolling news weather presenters who make a three-course meal out of their forecasts before leaving us still wondering whether it’s going to rain!