The advent of Sky+, and various other smart devices to guide the television viewer through the multiplicity of choice, has had one unintended consequence, as far as I can see: fewer people watch the adverts.
A commercial break used to be the time when the nation went to make a cup of tea, or visited the loo, but the live pause button now means that viewers can watch the programme on a time-lapse and whizz past the ads when they come. So, you could have avoided that handsome, lithe young couple enjoying their martinis on board a P&O cruise – a typical scene on a cruise ship, you are led to believe - before Downton Abbey, and there's no need ever to see a puppet meerkat.
However, the advertising refuseniks may be missing out, given that many commercials are creatively more interesting, have bigger budgets and are better produced than the programmes around them. This is certainly true of the latest blockbuster to hit our screens: the multi-million pound campaign for a new mobile network starring Kevin Bacon, the film actor, or, as he describes himself in the advert , "Hollywood A-lister".
I'm not that sure what he's actually selling, and I certainly couldn't explain the benefits of it even if I did, but I really enjoyed the film, which lasted so long that you've got time to make a cuppa and still not miss the end. In it, Bacon – with a classic, a la mode piece of Hollywood self-mockery, now used in everything from The Simpsons to Curb Your Enthusiasm – is poking fun at the parlour game played by people in the movie industry called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
This is based on the idea that everyone in films is connected to Bacon in six steps or fewer. And the proposition for the advert is about how this new, 4G network, called EE (Everything Everywhere), keeps people connected.
In the film, Bacon uses the word "connected" eight times, just to make sure you get the, er, connection. He also does a very passable impersonation of the Irish comedian Frank Carson, and the incongruity of a Hollywood star invoking some of our more parochial TV shows like Catchphrase and Coronation Street endows the ad with a good deal of charm. Bacon also visits a quintessential English pub, where he makes the point that this wonderful new network allows you to pay for pork scratchings with your mobile.
It didn't make me think I was missing out by not having 4G, but it did bring to mind my only connection with Kevin Bacon (a distant one, I grant you). I was once having dinner with an actress and she was telling me the story of how she suddenly found herself in the VIP area at a film premiere. "I was so over-excited," she explained, on finding herself sitting next to a Hollywood legend.
She turned to him and said: "I can't believe I'm having a drink with Kevin Bacon." He looked at her impassively, and dead-panned: "It's Spacey." "Isn't it just!" she replied. Have a good weekend.