Moving on. Regrettably, I had Tivo installed, however, on day one, during the evening, I noticed that when I hit pause, then play, after making a sandwich and coffee the sound via my AV receiver had just, well...gone.
I rang VM support and was assured that the problem was temporary, all I needed to do was hit reset (the new "did you try turning it off and then on? routine). The next year consisted of me resetting the Tivo time and again. In the end, the sound just gave up the ghost.
So, following a long conversation with tv support it seems that VM have known for a long time that the fault is not temporary. Nope, I am sorry to say the problem is a hardware fault. The problem seems to be such that only a firmware revision will resolve the issue, expecting reliable surround sound either via optical or hdmi is a complete non-starter. It might work for a while or intermittently, but eventually Mr Tivo will just stop detecting at source and the best you can expect from the system is stereo sound via the 'PCM' mode in audio settings.
Personally, I am outraged that in 2015 although I pay through the nose every month I cannot expect basic 5.1 surround sound. To think that 5.1 has been with us since Dolby invented a standard surround sound audio component in1976.
Together with the dreadful low bitrate of their 'HD' content I have taken the decision to jump ship, as I have put up with the excuses for so long now.
When you look at Sky or US services they throw VM into the shade and if it wasn't for their first class fibre I would wash my hands of them altogether.
Instead, I ran Cat5 to my smart TV booted the apps therein and now have glorious surround sound and wonderfully clear HD content. Don't forget that if you don't have a smart TV but do have a PS4, Xbox One or even an older PS3 or 360 you can stream direct to your tv.
In closing, I suggest that anyone who expected a basic surround sound service with reasonable HD content of a decent bit rate demand their money back as no-one else would put up with such a terrible service.
And the moral of this story? Don't listen to salesmen (salespeople?) and trust Scientific-Atlanta from Georgia who made a great V+ box.