IAN HART: Watching the Queen and shopping local

RIGHTLY so, the top rated television show over this Christmas was Her Majesty the Queen’s annual message which recorded an audience of 8 million viewers.

But it was only when reading an article of TV Christmases past that I realised how things have clearly changed over the years.

While 8 million is still a creditable figure, it’s dwarfed by the 30.15 million who tuned in in 1986 to see Dirty Den present Angie with their divorce papers at the foot of the stairs at the Queen Vic, or even the 26 million, still the highest-ever recorded individual ITV audience, who tuned in 365 days later to see Hilda Ogden leave The Street for the final time.

But with such a huge gulf over the TV audiences it begs the question, why? Have we all stopped watching TV?

Clearly not.With so many channels, are the 40 odd million potential viewers stretching out their viewing preferences? Possible, but unlikely.

Or were the recorded figures back then merely guess work and did more to build the myths of the respective soap operas? Of the three, in my opinion, this is possibly the closest to the correct answer.

And, in fact, I would also question how the figures are actually collated now, because of a country of 60 million, the overwhelming majority of us still, and always will, love the Queen. And with most households having kitchens and living/dining rooms with a TV in it, I personally think far more people than 8 million watched the speech but until the government puts a camera in everyone’s house, like George Orwell said they would, how will we truly know?

And while the speech was on at Chez Hart, we were all enjoying a lovely Christmas dinner, which in turn makes up my final point of 2014.

Our turkey was, once again, superb, because as at this time of year we shop local, this year Newsons in Broadwater Street East, having enjoyed comparable birds from Shannon’s of Tarring and Browns of Lancing in previous years.

But shopping local shouldn’t just be about Christmas, it should be all year round, so from now on, the commander-in-chief is on a three line whip, at least two visits to one of the aforementioned local butchers per month rather than one annual visit.

And I hope a number of you will do the same.

Happy New Year.