A new addiction is sweeping the nation that can only be alleviated by hours alone in a darkened room.
Yes, it’s box set dependency.
Instead of being content with a weekly dose of a favourite TV drama, viewers are recording multiple episodes and watching them back to back, or buying a box set for up to five hours continuous viewing, or watching them on catch-up TV.
Downton Abbey (four series), Scandinavian thrillers, Mad Men and Homeland are all part of this pernicious habit that can lead to hours of over indulgence that can involve lounging around in your jim-jams.
The technical term is binge-watching, which actually entered the Oxford Dictionary this year. A survey by uSwitch.com revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of pollsters said they had skipped meals or forgotten to eat while engaged in long term viewing. The same number said they refused to answer their phones while watching, 20% skipped sleep, 27% watched in their pyjamas and 18% skipped showers. And 23% said their social life suffered because of it.
Perhaps this last lot aren't doing it right because box set watching with your partner has been acclaimed as a shared activity that leads to a new intimacy. OO-er, missus. At my age? For I confess that I have embraced this phenomenon with my wife Maria.
Not long ago she said: "When we first met we didn't need any more space than a bedsit. Now we seem to live in separate rooms."
It was true: we have his and her TV sets for when I watch football or she wants to binge watch Come Dine With Me.
But it all changed when I bought the box set of three DVDs of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo that run for nine hours. In Swedish. We sat and watched this thriller together for over nine hours over three nights. It combined brilliant drama with togetherness.
We now record any good drama serials so we can watch them back to back. Together.
Psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack says doing something you both enjoy is at the heart of engaging in a binge session in front of the box. “Shared interests create a bond and connection that's great for relationships."
It's cheaper than a night out and is medically approved for you and your partner to indulge in several hours of mutual pleasure, excitement, climaxes and other double entendres, in what has been called the new Date Night and the modern way to keep love alive.
The advantage and danger is that you spend so much time with the characters in these programmes, you empathise with them far more than if only seeing them for an hour once a week. They become mates.
I wondered how I'd cope after the end of the Scandinavian thriller The Bridge last week, which was screened in chunky two-hour slots. But I have since found a website called Nordic Noir that has TV series and films, and discovered a whole load of European box sets on Amazon. I have just started binge watching the French detective series Spiral and am getting nostalgic for Gauloise.
Mind you, I'm doing this one solo. Is my addiction likely to affect my marriage? I doubt it. I'm sure Maria will tell me if I stop showering and start to smell. Besides, I only do it when Come Dine With Me is on.