When I was a child in the 1970s, the television service in this country consisted of three television channels - BBC's 1 and 2 and ITV (Anglia in Cambridge, of course). Domestic video recorders arrived on the scene during the decade, but these were expensive and not widespread (only 5% of UK households had them in 1980) and the multi-channel world of satellite television would have had us boggle-eyed with amazement back then.
An option available to Cambridge people that did give a little more choice of TV entertainment was an early form of cable or "wired" television called British Relay, which had arrived here in 1962.
"Cambridge Daily News", 31 August, 1962.
British Relay TV sets provided a clear, "electronically perfected" reception, the chance to view the London ITV service (which often provided a "regional variation" in programmes and news) and a built-in radio.
Black British Relay cables stretched between houses and small round adaptor boxes soon became a familiar sight to Cambridge residents.
According to the 1962 advertisement above, the benefits of British Relay included:
BBC [pre-BBC 2, which arrived in 1964], LONDON ITV and ANGLIA television programmes with tuning knob for other channels.
625 line TV and the new programmes - the minute they become available. No extra cost.
Colour TV as soon as it comes.
BBC Home, Light and Third radio programme, plus overseas programmes, including popular Radio Luxembourg.
A luxury push-button combined TV and radio set.
Complete free maintenance. "Never-without-a-set" service.
The world's best television reception that never varies.
By the time my parents first rented a British Relay TV set in the 1970s, the choice of radio stations had altered (as indeed had the radio stations on offer) and included the reorganised BBC stations and Capital Radio, an independent local radio station serving London. As a child, I enjoyed listening to this - there seemed to be something terribly sophisticated and wonderful about listening to radio aimed at a London audience! In Cambridge, there were no local radio stations until the 1980s.
As a youngster, I was fascinated by the tall aerial mast on King's Hedges Road, with various aerials attached to it at different heights, which provided the signal for our "wired" television service.
British Relay was taken over by a company called Visionhire c. the late 1970s. You could rent British Relay radio and television sets from this company at least until the early 1980s (I'm not absolutely sure when the service ceased), although the TV/radio combination sets were being phased out. We were still renting a combination set in 1981.
Of course, the world of TV entertainment has changed beyond recognition since those days, with the video recorder becoming widespread and the advent of breakfast, all-night and satellite TV in the 1980s, and other developments since.
But there was a time, in the fairly recent past, when British Relay was absolutely cutting edge.
I wonder what the next few decades hold?