On Saturday night while my parents were at a Christmas party, I had a quiet night in with the remote control. Things weren't actually so bad and having waded through the listings I found Catherine Tate's Laughing at the Noughties, the story of comedy in the first decade of the 21st century told through interviews, talking heads, her own scripted monologue and original clips.
I was familiar with much of it. It would be hard not to have noticed The Office or Borat. I used to download quite a lot of TV in Taiwan and there was also a multimedia on demand service which carried quite a lot of British dramas, comedies and even documentaries. I managed to keep in touch to some extent but the show underlined just how much of our shared culture comes through the telly, even in the age of the internet. I'd missed out on programmes that reflected and contributed to the zeitgeist and marked the rise of those comedians who are now the mainstream, making me immune to cultural references and appear even more square than I really am! Now I know how parents of teenagers feel.
It was nice to be able to put names and back stories to the faces I'm getting used to in the media and to weave them into the cultural tapestry that I'm not yet fully embedded in....
As if to underline how much popular culture means to your conception of an era, two weeks later I've just watched Ben Elton's Laughing at the Eighties. Now that's what I call a decade!