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
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 01.00, BBC4
Some great stuff under this banner in recent weeks, we’re sure you’ll agree the Christmas Eve show was an absolute spectacular, with Zoo dancing to Yellow Pearl on the two-tier stage surely the enduring image of eighties Pops. We also love the idea of all the family together on Christmas Eve being confronted by the brilliantly bizarre Ant Rap. Some fantastic clips in the documentary as well, while the clip show illustrated some fine fare we’ve got coming up. Sadly we’ve already skipped our first episode of the year so there’s a lot of familiar tracks here, but on the plus side Kid’s in charge again and there’s also the ever welcome sight of XTC.
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Points of View
- In 'Creamvote semi-final #1', Anthony says: "I like the original Who theme done by Delia Derbyshire as it’s the best version yet and has all the necessities of a sci-fi signature..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "I’ve been hoping the BBC4 repeats would get to 1982 even since the started. This is mainly because it’s when I started to watch TOTP..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Palitoy says: "Also worth noting – to reiterate a point made in one of the Cream Amigo’s recent (and great) commentary-casts – is that the..."
- In 'Sons and Daughters', Scott McPhee says: "Ally Fowler, who starred in Sons and Daughters, is still acting and performing. She sings in a pop group called The Chantoozies."
- In 'Monkey', Scott McPhee says: "“Steamroller schoolboy cult due to then-novelty kung-fu scenes, bonkers narrative, that theme song, and magic-summoning blowing-on-fingers..."