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What Denis Mitchell understood was that the best television could get close enough to show how different people were, and therefore how similar. Just the opposite of the worst television which, because it never gets close to anything, is able to pretend we're all the same anyway. Quiz shows work on this principle, and so does Blind Date, all purveying a kind of synthetic life. One good rule of thumb is to expect nothing of any programme that involves bringing the whole family into the studio.
Alan Bennett, A Night In with Alan Bennett

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What strikes me, looking at these programmes from The ’50s and Sixties, is the innocence of people: how hopeful they look; how trusting in their limitless future. In a play I wrote, a woman is looking at a photograph of herself when young. "Oh," she said, "if only I'd known." "Known what?" someone asks. "Oh, just known." I suppose what she's talking about is time, and how everybody's fooled by it in the end. In Mike Apted's 7 Up! series on Granada he followed, and is still following, a group of people through their lives. (A montage of Neil's increasingly bleak interviews plays.) That was a tale of hopes disappointed, of ambitions not realised, and it's almost unbearably sad. But there are those in the series whose youthful ambitions are fulfilled and who end up exactly where they wanted to be, but they seem sad too, the fulfillment of hope almost as desolate as its disappointment, and that is time.
Alan Bennett, A Night In with Alan Bennett
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