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Meet the man who hasn't seen a TV programme since 1988

By Kent and Sussex Courier  |  Posted: July 24, 2012

  • NO TV: Southborough resident Andrew Lohmann has not owned a television for 24 years

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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."

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."

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  • AndrewHL  |  July 27 2012, 7:56PM

    TV licensing nag for a time visit say if you sign this they won't come back for two years. I don't sign for anything I don't want and they tend to stay away for 10 years then come back.

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  • AndrewHL  |  July 27 2012, 7:53PM

    I sometimes watch any old rubbish when I am away. I also come across some very good films, documentaries, all sorts of things. Canadian and US TV is poorer. But I do like my home best.

  • MickSwann  |  July 27 2012, 2:02AM

    Mr Lohmann is a man after my own heart. I gave up Tv in 2001, after reading 'Get A Life' by David Burke and Jean Lotus. The quality of my life improved dramatically after I kicked the habit. I am happier, more sociable, physically fitter and much more productive than I was back then. I can't believe I wasted my life by spending so much of it staring at a piece of furniture rather than getting out into the world and doing things. It is one of the best, and most fruitful, decisions I have ever made and I would never contemplate getting or watching a TV again. The only downside is that, even after 12 years without one, TV Licensing still refuse to believe me and continue to send their inspectors round hoping to "catch me out". They just can't seem to get their head around the fact that someone could live without one. Well done Mr Lohmann, you're an inspiration, I wish you many adventures!

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  • intriguing  |  July 24 2012, 9:18AM

    If he watches TV in hotels then he *has* seen a programme since 1988, no? Does he only watch the movie channels and then only if classic films are on?

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