FROM AN IDEA BY Tony Warren. And what an idea: backstreet Shakespeare with brown ale; a cobblestoned Greek tragedy in curlers. Despite the fact that they’re hymned to the heavens by Parkinson and Hattersley, those early shaky, grimy episodes remain the benchmark for earthy popular drama, crushing the likes of COMPACT and THE NEWCOMERS under the heel of Elsie Tanner’s stiletto. They had everything and the kitchen sink: not least a gallery of recognisable yet larger-than-life characters: regal pub matriarch Annie Walker, hairnetted harridan Ena Sharples, the jaded sexpot Elsie Tanner, the slightly menacing roguishness of Len Fairclough and the tedious, bookish, middlebrow Guardianista Ken Barlow, who’s been there ever since. Into the seventies, the emphasis on wayward youth was taken up a notch, with more emphasis on the likes of loveable Scouse petty crim and hare-brained scheme merchant Eddie Yeats and saucy peroxided “good time girl” Suzie Birchall to offset the pensionable perfidiousness of Fred Gee. Further up the family tree there was Hilda Ogden (complete with ludicrous prole-taste “muriel”, obtained from dubious sources by one E. Yeats), gaudy pub siren Bet Lynch and slippery cigar-toting rag trade wideboy Mike Baldwin stepping into a frequently genuinely dramatic world – the lorry smashing into the Rovers Return, and Deirdre’s search for her baby in the rubble; the gunpoint murder of Ernie Bishop and the car-smash death of Alf Roberts’ wife Renee. As the eighties wore on, Eddie copped off via a CB radio to humorous effect, many of the Street’s mainstays took their final bows, and the Newton and Ridley brew was watered down, with more episodes and more tedious longeurs (the courtship of Derek and Mavis for instance) breaking up the drama, such as the Ken-Deirdre-Mike love triangle: “Ken’s a good man, he deserves better”, proffered no less an authority than John Betjeman.
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Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Last part of this series which isn’t going into the noughties, which is just as well given we think we’ve still got stuff in our cupboards from that decade. Instead it’s a time to reflect on what out guinea pigs have learned over the past five weeks and then have a think about what might appear in a similar show in a few decades’ time.
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Points of View
- In 'What’s My Line?', THX 1139 says: "There’s an episode from 1974 on iPlayer featuring Mike Yarwood as the special guest, he signs in as Harold Wilson and oh how the..."
- In 'Ask the Family', THX 1139 says: "There’s an episode from 1982 on BBC iPlayer at the moment, and if anyone these days can answer more than five questions from it right, if that,..."
- In 'Grange Hill', Graham Pearson says: "I recall watching the episode in which Gripper was finally expelled for a grim catalogue of bullying, harassment and demanding money with menaces...."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Andrew Dexter says: "I also seem to recall the announcement of Karl Wallenda’s death on Blue Peter in March 1978, they did indeed show the clip, quite..."
- In 'Crackerjack', jabberwocky says: "This isn’t the first time I’ve come across an article on here purporting to be amusing, but isn’t. Where does TV Cream get..."