The Life of a ‘90s ‘Quaranteen’ Part 1: My Top TV Picks of the Early ‘90s

The Life of a ‘90s ‘Quaranteen’ Part 1: My Top TV Picks of the Early ‘90s

A ‘90s Teen in Lockdown! How would you cope?

Let’s set the scene…It’s the early ‘90s and John Major has just announced to the nation that we are in lockdown. How would a ‘90s Teen cope with this? I would say, this one would have been a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, an early ‘90s teenager would be used to entertaining themselves because, of course, we never had any smart phones. This was not the late ‘90s! We never had any mobile phones at all! We had land lines and telephone boxes, remember?! We got locked into our favourite TV programmes, music and computer games, to a degree, but we had not yet lost the art of conversation altogether.

1992 Teen me and my little sister watching TV

On the other hand, the limited technology of the time meant that we had just a few methods of communicating with our friends or entertaining ourselves. So, coping with a lockdown scenario would have been quite traumatic for my teen self – not being able to hang out with my friends and especially not being able to create opportunities to widen my social circle, shall we say (ie, check out the local talent).

I’ve broken down these ‘90s ‘quaranteen’ entertainment options into separate posts as, frankly, there’s too much to say about each of them, and we know our attention spans are challenged these days!

How we viewed '90s TV Shows

‘90s tech was a bit sparse in comparison to the modern day. Don’t get me wrong…we had a family TV! AND it was in colour by then! Well, at least one of them was. We also had a black and white one as back up, I think. OMG, I’ve just remembered that we had a miniature TV! Like this one…

vintage portable miniature crown tv.

Photo credit: worthpoint.com

You had to turn the dial to tune it in to the TV channels. The tuning wasn’t all that great, but it definitely beat having no TV and you could carry it with that groovy handle and put it beside your bed! Yes! This is how I would have entertained myself in the evenings, okay maybe at night as well, and possibly way into the early hours.

Imagine a miniature bedside black and white TV! – Pure luxury! Like a Radox bath, really. But there wasn’t much on TV during the daytime in those days, so this would have been mainly an evening pursuit, as and when the TV scheduling allowed.

This was our main TV. It felt super modern at the time. It even had a remote control!

80s 90s vintage grundig television

Photo credit: tvfilmprops.co.uk

And this was the TV remote…

80s 90s vintage grundig television remote control

Photo credit: extralast.com

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They don’t get much cooler than this. We even thought this was cool at the time! Who knows what all those buttons did? Maybe they helped us find the TV guide on Teletext!

teletext_ceefax, television TV listings 80s 90s

Photo credit: tvwhirl.co.uk

My Fave Early '90s TV Shows

What would I have watched on TV in the early 90s? And, for these purposes, I am classing ‘early ‘90s’ as 1990-1993. Here are some of my favourite TV shows from the early ‘90s (in no particular order):

Northern Exposure (1990-1995)

Northern Exposure Canadian 90s TV show

Photo credit: hotcorn.com

Northern Exposure was a warm, community-centred drama, set in Alaska, with comedic appeal alongside character depth and development, which drew me in, as a young teenager.

Vic Reeves Big Night Out (1990-1991)

Vic Reeves Big Night Out 90s TV comedy

Photo credit: channel4.com

Okay, so this is kind of a weird one, but Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were two of my first celebrity crushes. I don’t know what was going on there, really. They are kind of cute, though. But Vic Reeves Big Night Out was legendary.

Vic Reeves Big Night Out 90s TV comedy set

Photo credit: next-episode.net

Lipstick on Your Collar (1993)

Lipstick On Your Collar, 90s TV drama with Ewan McGregor, set in world war 2

Photo credit: vermontmoviestore.com

This gritty British drama, Lipstick on Your Collar, was an ingenious combination of war-time intrigue, vulnerability and romance, with mimed musical interludes, featuring none-other than a very young Ewan McGregor, whom might I add, I spotted back then and bagseed, way before you lot.

Casualty (1986-present day)

Casualty TV drama, 1986-present day

Photo credit: walesonline.co.uk

I can’t quite understand what kept me coming back for more, here, but apparently Casualty  is one of the longest running UK TV dramas of all time, so they must have something right, but it wasn’t the quality of the extras’ acting, at least back in my day. It featured the tiny, baby Robson Green (second from right), prior to the Robson and Jerome ‘Unchained Melody’ days. He was a lil cheeky chappie, back in those days.

The Word (1990-1995)

The Word 90s TV show, opening credits

Photo credit: tv.parrotanalytics.com

So bad but so good.  Great late-night TV for a ‘90s teen. Terry Christian was one of those people you loved to hate, though you didn’t really know why. Apparently, The Word gave Nirvana their first TV appearance, with a performance of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, in 1991. Who knew?

The Word presenters, 90s TV show, Terry Christian, Mark Lamarr, Katy Puckrik, Dani Behr

Photo credit: broadcastnow.co.uk

Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, first TV performance on The Word 1991, Smells Like Teen Spirit

Photo credit: RareNirvana

Nirvana, first TV performance on The Word, 1991, Smells Like Teen Spirit

Photo credit: Darren Wilshaw

Men Behaving Badly (1992-1998)

Men Behaving Badly 90s TV comedy drama, scene

Photo credit: digitalspy.com

Men Behaving Badly was nice bit of light-hearted boy-banter and girl eye-rolling, as men Marten Clunes and Neil Morrisseys’ characters, Gary and Tony, got it wrong, over and over again.

Men Behaving Badly 90s TV show, cast

Photo credit: digitalspy.com

The X-Files (1993-2002)

The X Files 90s TV drama, Mulder and Sculley in action

Photo credit: tumbral.com

Well, I didn’t really need to follow the supernatural science, in The X-Files, because Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovy, was cute enough entertainment just being himself, but it was intriguing to watch this adorable couple, with their electric chemistry, solve mysteries and keep us all safe from the threats of the ‘90s science fiction world.

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

(1993-1997 in the US, first aired in the UK, January 1994)

Lois and Clark,The New Adventures of Superman, 90s TV drama

Photo credit: filmaffinity.com

Now this was a very modern take of Superman and a pretty good watch, in a very perfected American way. But which ‘90s teen doesn’t secretly love a bit of that of a Saturday if you’re not out with friends. Technically this does not fit into my early ‘90s category as it aired in the UK in January 1994, but I’ll let it go for now.

Lois and Clark, The New Adventures of Superman, 90s TV drama, superhero reveal

Photo credit: filmaffinity.com

Prisoner Cell Block H, re-runs (1979-1986)

Prisoner Cell Block H, In-mates, 90s TV re-runs

Photo credit: prisonercellblockh.fandom.com

I’m pretty sure that Prisoner Cell Block H used to air in the early hours of a Saturday or Sunday because my memories were watching it after returning home from a night out. ‘80s Aussie prison get-up and bitch-fights, was the perfect, if not disturbing, end to a ‘90s grunge night out with your mates, as far as I was concerned, and if you don’t agree, ‘You’re on a charge!’

Prisoner Cell Block H, the screws, TV drama, 90s re-runs

Photo credit: prisonercellblockh.fandom.com

These are my ‘quarateen’ top early ‘90s TV picks. What would yours be? Lets hope we can tune that TV in.

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