In the days before video recorders or DVDs, television programs were memorialised in other ways that interrupted the “flow” of broadcasting. Fans of television programs would record soundtracks of favourite programs as they were broadcast. And broadcasting institutions produced concrete objects that recovered the plots, characters and production of favourite programs. Bellbird: the story of a country town (1970) is a novelisation of the first twenty episodes of the ABC soap opera. “Are you a Bellbird-watcher?”, it asks. “If you are, you’ll take this book to your bosom”.
Neighbours: behind the scenes (1988) avoids the diegetic world of Ramsey Street and instead provides an account of the production of the Channel Ten soap, with a focus on the actors, its international distribution, and its cultural impact.
The Backchat Book (1990) shows that all genres – even those without diegetic worlds or interesting stories about production – can be memorialised in book form. It reproduces and comments on letters sent in to this ABC forum for viewer responses (“Your female correspondents’ letters are read by someone who manages to make the most intellectual letter sound trite”)
This Day Tonight: How Australian current affairs TV came of age (1992) combines memorialisation of the TV program with historical analysis, providing an account both of the production of the program and an argument about its importance of the development of current affairs in Australia.
And GP: The Book of the ABC TV Series (1992) combines an account of the diegetic world of the program (summaries of “35 favourite episodes”) with an account of the production of the ABC soapie. Across genres, decades and channels, books have provided a way for television viewers to stop the flow of television and extend the medium in lasting, material culture.