Good old days

I've just finished reading biographies of Ronnie Barker and Spike Milligan (right), both of which hark back to a "golden era" of broadcasting. The Barker book (by Bob McCabe, BBC Books) reveals that the audience for The Two Ronnies in the UK in the 1970s and 80s peaked around 20 million, accounting (by my calculations) for about two-fifths of the UK population and certainly well over half the viewing audience. I know times have changed, and there are many more viewing options, but it certainly puts the popularity of some of today's "stars" in perspective. The Milligan book (by Humphrey Carpenter, Coronet) reveals how the Goon Show scripts were vetted by the BBC, and one of the criticisms was that "there is no British embassy in Calcutta".