In August 1976, the British Broadcasting Corporation produced a programme to celebrate forty years of television entitled What do you think of it so far . . . ? The answer to that catchphrase question (known to every fan of TV comedians Morecambe and Wise) is ‘Rubbish!’ Evidently the BBC is as dubious as some of its critics about the quality of its output over the years. In the face of such modesty from the oldest broadcasting institution in the world, it would perhaps be rash to assert the contrary judgement – that television’s customary output may be just as good in its own terms as Elizabethan drama and the nineteenth-century novel were in theirs.