The most switched on village in Britain 

24 July 2023 tbs.pm/78517

A pretty village in Lancashire that’s been wired up for a hi-tech TV experiment has 30 choices of channel. KATIE EKBERG asks them what they’re watching

 

Cover of TVTimes

From the TVTimes for 2 June 1990

THE BUBBLING brook that runs through Waddington village in Lancashire was looking less than picturesque. It probably had something to do with the huge electrical cables hugging its banks, and the skyline of satellite dishes.

Don’t get the wrong impression. It’s not that the folk of Waddington are more square-eyed than others, it was just that Granada TV had come to conduct a £3million, ‘What people watch on TV’ experiment, using 50 homes in the village. And that meant equipping the place with miles of cable, satellite dishes and ‘terrestrial’ TV from Europe and the USA.

Mind you, no one was complaining. Not even the parish council. In fact, you could blame the parish council chairman, Eric Edmondson, for the whole experiment.

Eric runs Waddington’s two-pump petrol station and was there when Granada researchers stopped for fuel on their way to find a village for their experiment.

‘I know you shouldn’t sell yourself,’ says Eric, ‘but we do welcome people here, even if it’s not written on the mat.’

And so the little village was picked.

Eric had always been a selective viewer. ‘Emmerdale and the news,’ he nods, ‘then it was off unless something interesting was on.’

Ah, but that was before the experiment. Suddenly people in Waddington were becoming hooked on the box and nine times out of 10 it had nothing to do with all-day music channels, shopping by satellite, or live football. It had to do with WVTV (Waddington Village Television), a local channel, which was reaching a staggering 97 per cent of the audience!

James Warburton, Debbie Winckley, Michelle Hornby and Jonathan Brown were the reason.

They were the four young villagers who agreed, with the help of a Granada expert or two, to become the local station presenters.

The day we met James, 25, and Jonathan, 27, both self-employed local businessmen, they had just finished signing autographs for Brownies. The previous night they had interviewed the Brown Owl, who, James blushingly confessed, he introduced live as the Brown Cow.

 

Four people stand behind a road sign for Waddington.

James, Debbie, Michelle and Jonathan became local television celebrities. Picture: Peter Bolton

 

Both men had had little time to use the sophisticated TV equipment in their homes, but they had both enjoyed the satellite sports channels. Michelle Hornby, 31 (Jonathan’s sister), left husband David holding baby Andrew while she held the microphone.

‘We watch lots of TV,’ says Michelle. ‘I like Good Morning Britain, This Morning and Home and Away and my five-year-old daughter, Charlotte, watches children’s TV. David and I watch Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

‘Quite honestly, we’ve tried all the new channels and we prefer ITV.’

Debbie Winckley, 21, the fourth presenter, left her husband holding baby Laura. But his consolation, she said, was being able to watch all the extra sport.

‘Usually we just watch the soaps – Dallas, Coronation Street and EastEnders.’

 

WVTV

 

Harry Wood’s TV never went on before 5pm and then the retired engineering inspector would enjoy Emmerdale, Coronation Street, sport and the news.

‘It’s on from about 2pm now,’ he admits. “There’s more sport, wildlife programmes and, of course, the village channel.’

Harry, 78, had become a reporter for WVTV.

‘It’s easy. I’m there to ask questions and they’re there to answer them,’ Harry grins. Quite.

 

You Say

1 response to this article

Neil Crosswaite 22 August 2023 at 5:26 pm

Was it both Sky and BSB programmes?

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