For me, it all started a couple of years back with Deadwood. For those unfamiliar with this superior US drama, it’s set in a lawless 1870s goldrush camp and stars Ian ‘Lovejoy’ McShane as a Machiavellian saloon owner. Pride and Prejudice this ain’t, with profuse swearing and brothels on every corner. The language that the characters speak is almost Shakespearian in its eloquence and wit, some of it apparently even written in iambic pentameters – and with subtitles on I found I was able to appreciate it to a whole new level. Then came The Wire. I had no idea what the hell was going on at the start, only that it looked a bit scary. But the jargon of Baltimore’s inner city drug runners suddenly became poetic – rather than plain incomprehensible – with the subtitles switched permanently to ‘on’. Before long I was watching loads of things with subtitles on – films, Frasier, Mad Men.

And then I had my baby and subtitles really came into their own. With the constant crying, gurgling, babbling and plinky tunes that now forms the background noise of life, subtitles are no longer handy for catching those missed witticisms and asides, they are darn well crucial for following the plot. OK, I know Loose Women doesn’t have a plot but you know what I mean (actually live subtitles tend to be annoyingly hit and miss, it has to be said – see above image).

Now if I don’t have subtitles on for anything other than Teletubbies, I feel I am trying to play snooker underwater or the piano blind-folded. I never realised quite how much dialogue I missed before as ‘method’ actors fashionably mumble, grunt and slur their way through scripts. For instance, the brilliant new 30 Rock on Five USA doesn’t have subtitles, unlike the DVD box set – and I find it irritating beyond belief when I do miss the odd line here and there.

Anyway. Subtitles. Try them. I promise you’ll be hooked before you know it too.

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