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
This is the first and potentially the most interesting of the anniversary programmes, and despite the name it’s not just pop featured but also jazz, folk, classical and the whole of the musical spectrum that’s been covered on the channel, with David Attenborough our VJ for the evening. Inevitably we’re most interested in the pop and they promise it won’t just be Whistle Test, Jools Holland and the last desperate year of Top of the Pops but music and chat from all kinds of shows. Let’s hope too for stuff from the shorter-lived series like Behind The Beat, Snub and The O Zone, a show we were always very fond of.
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Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard Davies says: "I remember the programme made for their 18 birthday was really good. Lots of archive footage, at the time Newsround seemed to have a feature..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richie Brown says: "There’s the thing – Morecambe and wise came second to…Ant and Dec. Oh dear, Channel 5 still the preserve of the brain dead and..."
- In 'TTV', Richard16378 says: "Other segment of this I remember was Top Of The Mops, a music show with an audience of mops pointing upwards."
- In 'Erasmus Microman', Applemask says: "Fuck you, this could only have been awesome, because Ken Campbell."
- In 'Yak, The', thedoctorrr says: "I used to love Yak as a kid- possibly one of the most melancholy shows ever produced for kiddies ( can still hum the somewhat sad theme tune even now)...."