ONE of my favourite scenes in Friends is when Rachel challenges Joey to read a book of her choice - Little Women. Later, during a squabble, Rachel turns on Joey, who has become engrossed in the novel, and tells him: “Beth dies.”

Joey is bereft. “Beth dies?” he wails. It’s a great comic scene, and a little heartbreaking.

Apologies to those who haven’t read Little Women (the second part) but it’s been around since the 1860s, so it’s hardly a spoiler is it?

Is there an acceptable time limit when it comes to plot twists and tragic endings? Can we now safely talk about Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, for example? Or the wife in the attic in Jane Eyre? Or the fate of Romeo and Juliet?

I was once chatting with a friend about a US medical drama I’d finally got round to watching, years after it first began. “I’ve just seen the one with George - you know, with the accident, when he’s so disfigured they don’t recognise him, then he dies,” I said, assuming that, since the series was at least a decade old, she’d already seen the momentous demise of its much-loved character. “I didn’t know George died,” she said, in a quiet voice.

These days spoiler alerts are everywhere. And you never know who has seen what, or how much, so you can’t say anything, in case you give it all away. And how long does that go on for? A week? A month? Twenty years?

When the final of The Traitors, BBC1’s hit murder mystery game show, was aired last month, it was like walking on eggshells for anyone still catching up with the series. The winner’s identity was all over the place; negotiating social media, or any media, was a minefield for those who hadn’t yet seen the final. “Look away! Switch off! We’re about to talk Traitors!” cried frantic TV and radio presenters.

Life didn’t used to be so complicated. Back in prehistoric times, even before video recorders were in living-rooms, we all sat in front of the telly at the same time, watching the same programmes. You had one chance to watch the must-see show that everyone would be talking about the next day. If you missed it, tough luck.

Now of course we can watch TV how we want, when we want. Thanks to streaming, we can devour an entire series in one sitting, or dip in and out. Watch the whole thing the day it drops or save it for a rainy day.

The TV show that everyone is currently devouring is One Day, the Netflix drama following the lives of two friends, Emma and Dexter, over two decades. Based on David Nicholls’ beloved book, the 14-part series begins in 1988 when the pair meet at their graduation ball. An awkward encounter on the last day of university turns into a long, intense friendship. Having read the book (I’ve also seen the film and am half-way through the series) I daren’t say anymore than that. I mean, when it comes to spoiler alerts this is a biggie. I’ve probably said too much already...

What I will say is that the series is way better than the rather disappointing film, the multi-episode format stays faithful to the novel, and the two lead actors have great chemistry. Also, what strikes me, watching One Day, is how simple life seemed back then, seen through the lens of 2024. I was at university at the same time as Emma and Dexter and, like them, I used public phone boxes, wrote letters and listened to mix tapes. It seems quaint and uncomplicated now, but at the time it felt exciting and terrifying to be on the cusp of adult life, with one chapter over and another about to begin. And all of life’s spoilers still yet to come.