The concept of daytime television in the UK only really got started in the 1980’s. Before then it was assumed that the daytime audience mostly consisted of young mums with children, the old and infirm. For that reason most of the programmes were either of the watch with mother variety or old war films.
In the 1980’s something odd happened. It started with breakfast television. There was Frank Bough and Selina Scott grinning awkwardly in dodgy jumpers. They were quickly followed by a whole gang of serious journalist types on TV-am. They wrongly assumed that the British public wanted some gravitas over their Cornflakes. They got it wrong completely. The public wanted fluff and Roland Rat.
When breakfast TV finished at nine o’clock, there was an obvious gap. So breakfast TV began to grow and eventually it spouted This Morning. This Morning, when it first started, was of course, hosted by married couple Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan. It has now become a Goliath of daytime TV with an army of devoted fans.
I only really watched This Morning at university. I loved to watch the phone in part of the show especially if it was with their resident agony aunt, Denise Robertson.
I remember one phone in that must have been about abusive relationships. A caller started speaking quite cheerfully, only for the conversation to take a very sinister turn. Through very gentle questioning, Denise managed to uncover that the caller had been locked in her bedroom by her husband. She had been there since he left for work at eight in the morning and wouldn’t be let out until he returned from work at six in the evening. Richard and Judy were gobsmacked. Richard urged the woman to kick down the door and call the police. Judy just went pale and started trembling. Denise, however, was very very calm. Looking directly down the camera, she told the caller that although she thought she was safe, she was in grave danger. She listened intently to the caller throughout. Occasionally she told Richard to shut up, which is what the audience felt like doing on most occasions. This strange stand-off ended with Denise making the caller see that the only option was to call the police and get rescued from her bedroom. Both Richard and Judy as well as the audience who were watching, were in complete awe of Denise. Denise Robertson. She was one of the lights that was brutally snuffed out in 2016. On This Morning, she shone.
The thing about This Morning is that it will always be there on British television. No executive would ever think of cancelling it as the outcry would be immense. This is also true with cancer. It is never ending. Like This Morning, there are light hearted and even down right hilarious parts. But there is also an element of darkness lurking just beneath the surface.
You soon realise that it never ends. A couple of weeks ago I started getting double vision again. I tried to ignore it. No way. Everything is just too perfect. There’s no way my body is going to scupper this.
By now I’m programmed on what the course of action is. I called Melissa. Unfortunately she was on holiday. I contacted Lindy. Lindy was surprised to hear from me. The last time I had spoken to her was four years ago, when things had seriously gone tits up. She listened patiently and booked me in with Dr B.
I arrived in the ENT waiting room and saw four men staring slack jawed at the TV in the corner. I turned to see what was on. It was the snooker. The gentle clicking of the balls had created a calm, relaxing atmosphere in the waiting room. It had turned grown men into zombies.
After about ten minutes, a friendly looking registrar called me in. Dr B was sat at the computer looking puzzled.
“Oh! Hello Anna. Lovely to see you. I’m a bit confused.”
I looked at her blankly.
“Oh! It’s NOT the tumour. Don’t worry. We examined your scans back to front. It most definitely is NOT your tumour.”
I felt a lot lighter than I had done some five minutes ago.
“But that eye…”
“Oh God!” chipped in the registrar. “That needs seeing to.”
“Really? I mean if it’s not the tumour…”
That was the thing I was clinging on to. It’s NOT the tumour!
“No, no! It certainly needs looking at. If you don’t mind waiting Anna, I’ll see if someone at the eye clinic can look at it.”
I shrugged and was plonked on a seat outside.
About fifteen minutes later, Dr B came running up to me. I jogged alongside her to the eye clinic.
The eye clinic is opposite the ENT clinic. It’s about twice the size of the ENT clinic. We jogged quietly down corridors until we found the woman we were searching for. She didn’t look happy.
“Come, come. Please sit down.”
I sat on a chair in front of a contraption. This contraption was similar to the one at the opticians that you sit in front of when you are having your eyes tested.
“Please put your chin here…”
She made adjustments to the contraption so that it was clamped to the front of my face. She shined a bright light into my left eye. Then she tutted.
“You have an incomplete blink. Your left eye isn’t closing properly. As it can’t close, it can’t clean itself. Now you have an ulcer in your left eye. I’ll prescribe you some eye drops which you must take six times a day. You must also take a steroid eye drop each morning and put some gel on your eye at night.”
Myself and Dr B listened carefully.
“What’s caused this?” asked Dr B. The woman tutted again.
“More likely the surgery. The muscles in left side of your face are beginning to sag. This has affected the muscles around your eye too.”
“Not the radiotherapy?”
“Only in a minor way.”
Dr B looked a tad disappointed.
“It’s very important you come back here in two weeks. We can review the situation then.”
The eye clinic reception was closed by the time we finished. I was assured an appointment would be made for me in two weeks, where the final verdict would be made. In the meantime I was spat out, left clutching my eye drop prescription, on the way to lovely pharmacy.