Remote controllers want it all and want it now

THEY ARE the new teenagers. They are slaves to fashion, have cash in their pockets, love going out and flock to music festivals. Welcome to the "remote-control generation" - aged 35-50.

Time was when they were a minority dismissed as "mutton dressed as lamb". But according to a new survey, the "middle years" age group contains a sizeable rump of Peter Pan men and women intent on extending the activities of youth for as long as possible.

They read GQ or Red magazine, they are single or "newly single" divorcees, are typified by fast-living leisure pursuits and are as likely to be at the Glastonbury rock festival as their children.

Taylor Nelson Sofres, a market research firm, has dubbed them the "remote- control generation" because their attention spans are short, boredom thresholds low and they are inveterate television channel-hoppers. Bearing characteristics more often associated with teenagers, they watch cookery programmes but do not cook, garden programmes but rarely garden and love lifestyle shows.

They seek constant stimulation and are unwilling to waste time on people and activities that don't interest them.

Anne Collins, qualitative research manager of Taylor Nelson Sofres which carried out the survey, said: "We see a tendency to flick around the channels as well as use the television as background noise."

Eating out has replaced dinner parties or a drink in the pub as a way of catching up with friends and family for the "middle young".

And holidays are no longer viewed as a luxury, but a necessity. Going without one is seen as failure, Ms Collins said.

While fitness is considered either a chore or an obsession, all those interviewed by the marketing information group had a high interest in clothes and were anxious not to look old-fashioned.

Work plays an increasingly large role in the lives of the remote-control generation, with most saying nine-to-five was no longer part of their mind set. The survey claims the work ethic is also far stronger than in previous generations, but this is largely fuelled by the fear of redundancy or compulsory early retirement.