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Meet Julie McDowall, our new TV online reviewer

Our new TV critic JULIE McDOWALL outlines her personal viewing habits.

It was the end of the world.

The blinds were pulled down against the sun and I skulked in the dusty light. I froze when I heard footsteps outside and prayed they wouldn't stop at my door. Often I would be on the carpet, forehead pressed to the cool leather of the footstool, crying.

I lived with a constant dread of what would happen next. Starvation would bite, and I'd feel my way into the dark kitchen to force open a tin of tuna. It's true that, in post-apocalyptic times, the tin opener is the most important tool you can possess.

One day I sliced my finger on the ragged rim of the can, but there were no plasters for the cut. There was no ointment, either. There was nothing, and no question of leaving the house. What was outside, anyway? Was there still a Government? Truly, it was the end of days.

That's what happened to me when I watched Breaking Bad.

It was astonishing how that show gripped me. I watched it in one mammoth, delirious swoop on Netflix. For two weeks, all life stopped. Had I read a spoiler on Twitter I would have committed foul crimes. The boyfriend may have spoken to me, held out cups of tea, slept beside me at night. He may have made several calls to NHS 24. I really can't be sure.

But how could this happen? I despised TV. Years ago, I had given my set away in an overblown act of snobbery. 'I'm a writer', I sneered. 'I mustn't sully my mind with this trash'. My sister suggested I simply refrain from switching it on but, no, my literary pretensions needed the grand and public gesture of eradication.

Then Breaking Bad happened, and I found myself huddled over a laptop, watching it on the tiny, twitchy screen.

The boyfriend looked down at me, saw the hot laptop on my knee, and said perhaps we might buy a television. My old snobbery fell away in clumps. I clutched his legs and sobbed yes into his good work trousers.

So, here begins my new column, where I'll provide comment twice a week on what I'm watching. Yet I can't promise it'll be clear and unbiased. My old snobbery may be gone but I fear a ghost of it remains because, when friends expressed surprise that I now had a TV, I was tempted to laugh and say 'yeah, but only to watch University Challenge.'

Part of me still equated TV with cultural squalor. True, the marvel of Breaking Bad showed me that TV could achieve brilliance but then I'd scroll through the listings and find atrocities such as Robot Combat League and Storage Wars and then the old snobbery would tiptoe back in, nuzzle itself down on the sofa beside me, and ask why I'm watching this trash?

Maybe I'm watching it to open my mind to things other than novels and re-runs of Gone With The Wind? Or maybe I'm one of those crackpot survivalists you see on Louis Theroux documentaries and I'm just dying for another series to swamp my consciousness so I can be holed up in the flat for weeks, going without daylight or food or meaningful human contact? Silly idea but, just in case, I've got in some bottled water and a smooth new tin opener.

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