Meet the man who hasn't seen a TV programme since 1988
NEIGHBOURS may have bagged the 5.35pm slot to which most of the country was glued and Crossroads with its wobbly stage sets was in its last year – but one man from Southborough wasn't watching.
In 1988 Andrew Lohmann, 53, ditched his television for good.
He said he had developed "a terrible habit of watching television" to the detriment of a social life and engaging with the world around him.
The electronics engineer, who told the Courier he had never seen footage of the passenger jets exploding into the World Trade Center in 2001 and was only "aware" Britain's Got Talent was a programme, said: "When I left home I thought, don't bother with the TV. I had a lovely flat in the town centre, lovely neighbours and lots of things to do."
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As a child with rheumatoid arthritis he had watched ample television and was inspired by Tomorrow's World, The World About Us, Life on Earth and Doctor Who. He began "making things with batteries" aged five and those early programmes led him into engineering.
But in his twenties he got in to "bad habits" with the set in the living room.
"It was easy to just watch TV. It drew me in," he said.
"I was a bit 'junk TV' because I was at home. I didn't read a lot – I am dyslexic – so I was taking other people's impressions of things on the television. It was just too easy to watch it."
Minus the box, he became involved in "environmental stuff". He campaigned for nuclear disarmament with the local branch of CND – which led to a few hours in the cells at Tunbridge Wells police station in the late 1980s – and later worked with Electronics for Peace, a group of scientists concerned about the military's dominance of electronic technology.
He also devoted more time to "technologies and computing hobbies" and found that with more time for preparing food, he preferred vegan and could cook. He also served as a town councillor in Southborough.
"I was definitely more sociable and had lots of women friends," he added.
For two years Mr Lohmann read the Guardian newspaper every day in its entirety.
"With the dyslexia it really was very demanding. I gave up after two years, it got too much. But that is why I can write letters now, with the help of computers and word processors," he said.
He uses e-mail and listens to Radio Four and as his work takes him away from home, he watches television in hotels. He cannot see a time when he will move in a television, but he said he was certainly not preaching to others to ditch their sets.
"Do things because you want to. Don't discard a TV because you want to get rid of a habit. Do it because you want to introduce a new habit. It should have a positive reason."
He added: "We have got much deeper into the virtual world with television and Facebook and profiling and banking even, where it is virtual money.
"But it's still the same substance. It's like going in to a supermarket and seeing a whole wall of different coloured toilet rolls. It's not a choice, it's a different colour of toilet paper."