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Clive James: adventures in box sets, from The West Wing to Weeds

Clive James loves to read, but nothing beats a box set binge. He salutes his greatest passions

It seems an age ago now, and it was. Between 1972 and 1982, I wrote a weekly column about television, and by the end of my stint I preened myself as being fairly clued up on the subject. I signed off with a confident prediction that the droll sarcasm of the desk sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) in Hill Street Blues was about as clever as American television would ever get. For a couple of decades it looked as if I might be right – and then the cable channels, arising out of nowhere, suddenly outflanked the networks, which, in their turn, were obliged to raise their game.

Since my polite but insidious form of leukaemia was diagnosed in early 2010, it has been more often dormant than not. Early on, a programme of chemo sent it

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