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Leisure and hobbies in Britain

As working hours get shorter, the British have more and more time for leisure. Most people work a five-day week and have plenty of time in the evenings and at weekends to fill with hobbies and leisure pursuits of all kinds.

There is no doubt that the most popular leisure activity of all is watching television. In fact the average Briton watches about 25 hours of TV a week. That's about 3 or 4 hours a day. Almost 100% of households contain a television and more than 50% have two or more.

The British have a choice of four national networks (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4) plus a dozen or so satellite and cable stations. British television is famous for its high quality and variety, and because of the English language the British can watch programmes from many other countries (especially the United States and Australia) without dubbing or sub-titles. Over half the households in Britain own a video recorder and more than a million video tapes are rented in Britain each day. The second most popular leisure activity is visiting or entertaining friends or relatives. Listening to music and reading follow in third and fourth position.

Many people prefer more active leisure pursuits. Do-it-yourself and gardening are the most popular of these, followed by going out for a meal. Next comes voluntary work. A surprising 25% of British adults are involved in voluntary work of some kind. There are more than 250,000 voluntary organisations in the United Kingdom, ranging from local neighbourhood groups to international organisations such as Save the Children or the Red Cross. Many voluntary groups try to raise money for local charities connected with schools or churches while others concentrate on international problems such as famine in Africa.

Perhaps the most traditional leisure activity is sport. This is divided into participation and spectator sport. The most popular spectator sport is football, although this is less popular than it was in the past. Rugby, cricket and athletics are the next most popular sports to watch. When it comes to participation sport no-one will be surprised to find that walking is the most popular. Swimming, despite the British climate, is second. After this the degree of popularity depends on gender. For men, snooker and darts are the most popular, followed by squash and cycling. For women, keep-fit is the most popular. Some of the sports for which Britain is famous are, in fact, only popular with a small minority of people. These include such activities as sailing, horse-racing and tennis.

8.13 Are these statements true [T] or false [F]?

1. The majority of British households have two or more televisions. [ ]

2. Visiting friends is more popular than listening to music. [ ]

3. The British don't like watching programmes from the USA and Australia. [ ]

4. Voluntary work is the most popular active leisure pursuit. [ ]

5. Three quarters of British adults are not involved in voluntary organisations.

6. Football is becoming more popular these days. [ ]

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