Daytime television. An unfortunate part of standby on many day shifts. We didn’t often spend much time on standby and, if we managed to do so, it didn’t usually last long, but the TV was always on.
Monday to Friday the mornings were filled with property programmes and “chat” shows. Afternoons were slightly more acceptable as they mostly consisted of antique shows and quiz shows. Occasionally there would be a good war movie on, but that could sometimes spark a war if one person didn’t want to watch it. Bank Holidays were a bit better because they generally involved a better class of movie.
In 2012 we were lucky to be able to watch some of the Olympics from London live.
Having only freeview TV on our station, we were slightly restricted. The crews on some ambulance stations joined together to pay for proper Sky TV so had seemingly unlimited channels to watch. To me, they were paying for more channels of the same daytime TV we were watching.
Weekends were more interesting. Saturdays involved programmes from large kitchens, and sport in the afternoons. Sundays were similar, with an ok movie in the afternoon, occasionally a Formula 1 race, although they regularly caused disharmony in the ranks. Not because of driver loyalties, but because usually one of the two crew members didn’t want to watch them – “it’s just cars going round and round…” or similar.
Most night shifts were too busy to spend much time in the mess room for much of the shift, but there were movies on most nights and, after the sensible people had gone to bed and the viewing options became limited, we would listen to the radio stations available via the TV.
The TV in our mess room was quite large, the mess room wasn’t. It had been bought with money gifted by the relatives of a patient, so we were proud of it. There was also a matching dvd player, and a pile of dvds that no-one had actually watched sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the room.
The only problem was allowing yourself to get interested in a programme, or caught up in a film. Guaranteed, just as things got tense or exciting, someone would become ill and we’d get the call to mobilise. This was never really a point of anger, it was our job to attend I’ll people after all. It was more a point of annoyance. Mostly annoyance at ourselves for becoming involved in whatever we were watching.
Sunday mornings were generally filled with soap opera omnibuses – a week’s worth of episodes, in one programme. Some of our crew members were slightly addicted. In those situations I’d quietly beg for a job, even a mundane transfer, to happen.
You knew it was bad when you began bringing things you had watched into conversations with friends, like a true daytime TV expert. But some programmes I despised. One in particular, the host as much as the show. I smiled out loud the day the production company announced its end, despite the sad and unfortunate event it took to make them see sense.
I learned things about properties I didn’t know, watched cringe-worthy movies, knew the names of soap opera characters. Mostly, I never saw the end of a lot of TV programmes and films, but it never bothered me.