A study of the quality of TV through the decades has revealed 54 per cent of British television viewers believe we are living in a "golden age" of TV.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents also said that the quality of TV shows broadcast in the last five years was the highest ever.

For nearly half of these viewers, the leap in technology means special effects look more realistic and spectacular than ever before.

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The survey of 2,000 TV fans also found 37 per cent are drawn to watching television more than ever due to improved picture quality and 4K ultra high definition, which is four times the quality of HD.

A third also believe the improvement is down to better writers and A-list actors getting involved in small-screen projects.

David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer of Virgin Media, which commissioned the research to celebrate the launch of the new Virgin TV Ultra HD channel on Monday, said: “We’re spoilt with an amazing choice of top telly shows from the likes of Breaking Bad, Blue Planet, The Walking Dead, and up to today’s Bodyguard - we’re truly enjoying a ‘Golden Age’ of television.

“Viewers have never had it better with the best TV shows being available in the best picture quality - 4K ultra high definition. It really is the next best thing to being there.”

However, the poll's respondents voted the 1980s as the decade which produced the best comedy shows and sitcoms, with shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder and The Young Ones making their debut.

But according to the survey conducted via OnePoll.com, the current decade has produced the greatest drama shows on TV, such as Game of Thrones, Line of Duty and Stranger Things.

A quarter of respondents have upgraded their television set-up so they could watch their favourite shows in the best possible quality.

One in four say it now "annoys" them when they’re forced to watch something in standard definition, and 44 per cent would consider themselves a "telly addict".

When asked to consider the iconic TV moments they would like to watch again in HD, the 1969 grainy black-and-white footage of Neil Armstrong’s "one small step for man" was the most popular choice.

Del Boy’s classic comedy fall through the bar in Only Fools and Horses (1989) and England’s 1966 Football World Cup victory are other moments respondents said they would like to see in HD.

Audrey Hepburn was named the celebrity most people would like see in HD quality, followed by Scarlett Johansson and Johnny Depp.

Iconic TV moments British viewers would like to see in HD:

1. The moon landing, 1969

2. Del Boy falls through the bar, Only Fools and Horses, 1989

3. England victory at 1966 World Cup final, 1966

4. David Attenborough's gorilla encounter, Life on Earth, 1979

5. "Fork Handles", The Two Ronnies, 1976

6. Basil hits his car with a branch, Fawlty Towers, 1975

7. The Queen's coronation, 1953

8. "Don't mention the war", Fawlty Towers, 1975

9. Opening Ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics, 2012

10. Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, 1976

11. Blackadder Goes Forth finale, 1989

12. Fall of the Berlin Wall news coverage, 1989

13. David Bowie's appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust singing Starman, 1972

14. Princess Diana's funeral, 1997

15. Monty Python's ministry of silly walks, 1970

16. The wedding of Charles and Diana, 1981

17. Nelson Mandela being released from prison, 1990

18. Dirty Den hands Angie divorce papers on Christmas Day, EastEnders, 1986

19. Susan Boyle's performance, Britain's Got Talent, 2009

20. Who shot J.R?, Dallas, 1980

SWNS

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