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The Eye

Hands up who remembers Isobel Barnett? The grand lady of What’s My Line. In those far off days of the BBC (when there was only one channel) we gathered round our small black and white TV sets to see what the latest strange occupation could be, carefully mimed for the panel to guess. Maybe it was a man who made rubber bands for the post office or a lady who made artificial flowers for the royal households. All were mimed with huge seriousness under the chairmanship of that old grumpy Gilbert Harding.

There were a number of ‘family’ shows that most people followed but one of the most celebrated was Dr Who, which became the favourite family programme where we all competed for the back of the sofa to see what the wicked daleks were up to next.

Family viewing has all but disappeared, changed with the vast proliferation of channels. More than we ever imagined, we now make our own entertainment choices, watch when it suits our schedule and have myriad channels, screens and tablets to choose from.

Fortunately, some spectacles buck the trend and bring us back together around the box. The royal wedding was indeed a massive hit but is unlikely to be repeated for many years. The Wimbledon Championships holds its own each year in the popularity stakes though. And we still follow our favourites, Roger Federer, with his timeless grace, or the Spanish fire brand Nadal.

Which British stars are in the ascendancy this year? Kyle Edmund, the 23-year-old, who became a professional tennis player five years ago and qualified for Wimbledon automatically as he is ranked inside the world’s top 100. Kyle is worth switching on for. I have also had good reports of Johanna Konta who is playing well and is recovering her world ranking. And, last but not least, we wait to see how Andy Murray’s recovery goes following his hip surgery.

The Championships illustrates a particular British characteristic. The English garden party atmosphere disguises our secret desire to win. The fans on Henman Hill allow us to lose with grace as we tuck into our picnics and console ourselves that this is the best, the most gentile of competitions without the brashness of the American event. Isobel and Gilbert would be proud of our phlegmatism as we enjoy our ‘local’ family summer sports competition with that old comforting saying, ‘It’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part.’

More strawberries anyone?

Tony Kane Time & Leisure Founder and Editor-at-Large