Suzi Godson: We're far too brain dead to bother watching telly on a Saturday night

The long hours' working culture has turned the traditional week on its head

Share
Related Topics

I'd like to blame Cilla, or Dale, or Chris, or even Simon Cowell. Television on a Saturday night - the traditional time for family viewing - is a turn-off for increasing numbers of people. Research just published shows that the Saturday night audience has fallen from 20 million to 18 million over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, TV viewing on Monday nights peaks with audiences up from 18.8 million to 19.8 million.

More than half of the viewers polled said that they no longer watch telly on a Saturday night. As a subscriber to the most elaborate and expensive combination of terrestrial and satellite television available, I can guarantee that despite having more than 60 channels, on a Saturday night there is never anything worth watching on any of them.

But the viewing patterns are not just due to the turgid over-rehearsed unpalatability of Blind Date and its successors. It's more to do with the fact that the structure of our working week has changed so dramatically.

Once upon a time people got at least an hour off in the middle of their working day, during which time they could carry out chores like shopping or eating. (However, in a typically British stroke of genius, institutions such as banks and post offices were shut during that hour, rendering it virtually useless.) But, today, anyone who wants to stay employed realises that taking a lunch hour, and knocking off at 5.30pm, is simply a quaint 1950s fantasy. Those who are committed to their jobs have to be present in the workplace for ever-increasing amounts of time, and visibility is as important as productivity. At any given moment in an office full of people, a large percentage of employees will not be carrying out the job they are paid to do. But it doesn't matter. If it is 6.30pm, and you are shopping online or playing solitaire, and the boss looks out and sees you tapping away, you create the appropriate impression: "Hmm, young so-and-so from sales and marketing is really putting in the hours."

Spending more time in the office has contracted the amount of free time we have so much that we have had to find other ways in which to unwind. For some, that involves doing yoga, shopping, or visiting galleries. For everyone else, it involves the consumption of alcohol. Widely available, relatively cheap and hugely effective, a couple of glasses of wine now act as a life-support system for the brain-dead, Microsoft chimps that we have all become.

In general, the working week follows a fairly predictable pattern of alcohol consumption. It starts on Wednesday - the hump of the week - which begins the slide towards the weekend. Thursday is now "the new Friday", according to publicans and restaurateurs, and Friday is not always something you can remember. Obviously, Saturday is written off simply because it can be. And the singer Craig David is so wrong. On Sunday we don't chill; we cram in all the stuff we were too hung-over to do on Saturday. And since everything is open - including the pub - everyone, bar the five people watching Songs of Praise, can usher in the start of another working week over a couple of pints.

Naturally, by the time we 21st-century wage slaves get into the office on Monday morning, we are exhausted. Kept going by caffeine, pain-killers and the promise of a double bill of Coronation Street when we finally assume the recovery position on the sofa armed with a remote control and a takeaway pizza, we can at least look forward to some top telly.

For years programme schedulers have been playing their best cards on a Monday night. Big draws such as Martin Bashir's interview with Michael Jackson and a documentary about the Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? fraud were screened then. The biggest shows - Coronation Street, EastEnders and Spooks - all get given that slot. It's rich pickings, and who's complaining? Anyone dumb enough to watch TV on a Saturday night ought to get a life. Or a DVD.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Supporters of New Democracy wave Greek flags during Antonis Samaras pre-election speech.  

Greece elections: Where does power lie? This is the question that ties the UK to Athens

Steve Richards
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project