Scrabbling about in the back of the SCMP official television filing cabinet this week, I came upon a piece of Hong Kong history that moved me so much I feel bound to share it with you. In fact, I give fair warning that I will probably be milking this archive a lot during the next few days, especially when the racing is on and there is nothing contemporary worth commenting on. What I discovered was an intact copy of TV and Entertainment Times, covering the week August 15-21, 1984. With the greatest respect to my colleagues who run the current publication of the same name, those were the glory days of the magazine, because English language television was in its heyday. They were the days when World was known as ATV English channel, and Home as ATV Chinese channel. The days when there were two chances to catch the evening news, first the News at Eight, on ATV English, and then TVB Pearl's Newsfile, at 9pm. Diana Lin, the esteemed editor of The Pearl Report (Pearl, 8pm), was the new girl at ATV, praised for her 'understated projection and pronunciation'. Brian Langley, recently seen hosting the World Cup for ATV, was commended for surviving the 16-day coverage of the Los Angeles Olympics for TVB Pearl. Keith Kwan was presenting the predecessor of Citylife, Monday and Friday's Solid Gold, and ATV filled awkward gaps in the commercial schedules with little proglets to mark National Days. Classic British sitcoms such as Man About the House, and American action comedies like The A Team and The Dukes of Hazard, not to mention Dallas, The Sweeney (with Chinese subtitles), Benny Hill, Remington Steele, Cagney and Lacey and Diff'rent Strokes. We shall not see the like again, (thank God, some critics would argue.) However grotty these programmes might seem in retrospect, they were pretty hot stuff at the time. Back then, the English language channels were not the white elephants they have become. Ludicrous as it might seem now, when Jade and Home audiences dwarf those of their respective sister channels, there was a time when planners assumed that with time, Hong Kong's young professional elites would switch to more Western style, English language programming, and the English language channels might at least match the audience share of the Chinese ones. Then Margaret Thatcher made her stupid remarks to Deng Xiaoping , the handover became unavoidable, and those dreams crumbled. '1997 has destroyed us,' ATV English's head man Richard Kwang moaned. Those reports of death may have been exaggerated. What is interesting is that the fear then of how death would come was almost completely misguided. There was a suspicion that a post-handover government might not let the two terrestrials rivals contaminate the airwaves with programmes in the colonial language. There was even a question mark over whether such programming would survive the 1988 renewal of broadcasting licences. Now we are 10 years past that, and of course the irony is that it is the stations who are begging the Government to allow the choice of programming for their second channels to become more 'market orientated', which is code for 'half in Cantonese'. Not because anyone wishes to crawl to Beijing, but because that is where the money is.