Nostalgia, as a wise man once remarked, is like heroin for old people.
The more advanced in age you get, the more tempting it is to hark back to better times. But were things really better “back in my day” or were they just better because you were younger, more attractive and full of hope? People who hark back fondly to simpler times are often kidding themselves.
Ultimately, there is no answer to the argument as to which period of time was better... but that hasn’t stopped us trying to find out.
In the latest of our weekly polls carried out by Northumberland-based research specialists Other Lines of Enquiry using their inhouse Panelbase service, we asked people to rate the decades as to which was best for music, fashion and TV.
Do you prefer the Beatles or Dizzee Rascal, flares or shoulder pads, Watch with Mother or The Wire? The results – though not hugely scientific – make for interesting readings.
Asked for the best decade for music, the 1960s came top of our poll both in nationally and in the North East. The decade of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and the Kinks was judged best by 29% of those polled. The ‘60s were favoured most by the 55-64 and 65+ age groups and less so by younger people (with 18-24 year olds favouring the 1990s).
A surprise in our poll came with the fact that the 1980s – once memorably dubbed “the decade that music forgot” – was the second most favourite time period. Here the most votes came from people in the 35-44 age group, suggesting that people are most fond of the music that was around when they were teenagers. All in all, though, our poll showed the punk and disco era of the 1970s and the grunge/Britpop 1990s battling for the minor places.
The 1960s was also judged the best period for fashion, with miniskirts, go-go boots and pillbox dresses being favoured by 38% of people we polled nationally and 42% of those in the North East. Again the 1980s took second place, suggesting a fondness for big hair, power dressing and jumpsuits that would perhaps surprise many. Once again, voting followed the age demographic closely, with the older age groups favouring the 1960s and the middle aged voting in big numbers for the 1980s.
Finally we asked people to say what was their favourite period for television, and here the trend for nostalgia was not so strong.
The popular cliche that there’s nothing on the telly these days – and that the only good thing on is repeats of old classics – wasn’t borne out by our poll.
Only 9% of those polled nationally and 10% in the North East favoured TV from the 1960s, making it the least popular decade for the gogglebox.
In the last question, people were much more inclined to favour the current, with the 2000s top rated with 23% of the vote nationally and 22% in the North East.
Much has been written about the current golden era of television based around gripping US serials like The Wire and Breaking Bad, complex European dramas and a renaissance in UK productions.
The choice available to viewers is so much greater too, with viewers getting access to hundreds of channels even without expensive satellite or cable deals thanks to the Freeview system.
So when you sit in front of the television tonight – grumbling that music just doesn’t have tunes any more and those young folk look a sight in their tight jeans – remember in that respect at least, you’ve never had it so good.