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Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Britons 'lonely without TV'
Watching TV
Most parents say they use TV as a "babysitter"
Most people in the UK would be lost without their TV sets, according to the results of a survey released on Tuesday.

The View of the Nation Television Survey, conducted by the Radio Times, found that 54% of the population would be lonely without their television.

In the 597 representative households questioned, more than 40% had the TV on for at least six hours a day.

presenter Anne Robinson
Anne Robinson was the most disliked TV personality

But the survey also showed how, despite this dependence, most people - 67% - believed there is often nothing worth watching.

"It's intriguing that our study is riddled with contradictions, said Nigel Horne, Radio Times editor.

"We don't like to be without our TV, and yet we're loath to admit that. We say our sets are on for hours each day but claim to watch far less.

"The Radio Times View of the Nation Survey offers a fascinating insight into our guilty love affair with TV."

The people questioned in the survey were from across the UK and aged 18 and over.

Although most admitted to having the TV on for long periods a day, most also said they used it only as "background" to other activities.


Of these, eating the main meal of day was the most common thing to do, with 42% of people claiming to do this in front of the TV.

After that, 38% of respondents said they did housework in front of the screen, 29% made telephone calls, 22% read and 19% cooked.

And, despite widespread concern about the effect of TV on children, two-thirds of parents said they used it as a "babysitter".

Coronation Street
Soaps like Coronation Street were judged of little value

Nearly half of adults with children aged between seven and 10 said there was a set in a child's bedroom.

When it came to giving programmes their full attention, the majority of respondents said they considered "reality" TV and soaps to be the least important shows.

Viewing figures, however, go against this claim, with EastEnders, Coronation Street and Brookside regularly coming at the top of the TV charts.


The survey also questioned viewers' attitudes to the personalities regularly seen on TV.

The results showed that The Weakest Link presenter Anne Robinson was the most disliked, followed by comic character Ali G, played by Sacha Baron Cohen.

Actor David Jason
David Jason was the favourite celebrity

Broadcaster Chris Evans was considered the most over-rated, followed by Michael Barrymore, Vanessa Feltz and Carol Vorderman.

Actor David Jason emerged as the best-loved celebrity.

ITV's news presenter Trevor McDonald was considered more trustworthy than BBC Two's Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.

The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"A drug few Britons want to quit"
See also:

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14 Aug 00 | Education
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27 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Children in UK 'watch most TV'
08 Aug 00 | UK
What makes TV addictive?
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