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
We see the Radio Centre has made their usual submission to the Beeb’s latest review of their radio services, complaining once more about the distinctiveness of Radio 1 and 2… and also Radio 3, and we’d love to know what station they think Radio 3 is stunting the growth of. It’s funny how, despite all the massive consolidation and centralisation of commercial radio over the years into quasi-national networks, their glory days came when they were all proudly local and independent, and beating the Beeb almost everywhere. This repeated documentary will recall that era, and we quite like the idea of Radio 2 doing it because it’s like Granada’s Tribute To The BBC on their opening night in 1956.
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Points of View
- In 'Never Too Young To Rock ', Alan smith says: "Not much plot and rather confusing in places-but still very worth it for the musical clips! Mud, Glitter band and Rubettes give good..."
- In 'Side By Side ', Alan smith says: "It’s obviously dated humour wise- but taking that into account; it’s a good enough film of it’s kind! Scores over sister film..."
- In 'The 50 Greatest Things About Match Of The Day', Richard Davies says: "Great stuff, Fantasy Football League recreated or featured many of these."
- In 'The 50 Greatest Things About Match Of The Day', Boggenstrovia says: "51. Chris Burns of Portsmouth being carried off shoulder high after their 6th Round FA Cup defeat of. Brian..."
- In 'Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, The', Dristarg says: "I hate to nitpick, but that last sentence refers to ‘The Story of the Treasure Seekers’."