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
Trailblazers of Disco
Friday, 21.00, Sky Arts
With that rather odd Dave Clark Five epic getting another outing on BBC4, we instead alight on Sky Arts who launch this new series, and despite this channel’s usual mid-Atlantic focus it appears to be both new and British, not least as it’s presented by Sir Nodward Holder. Doesn’t seem to be a great deal to it, mind, simply highlighting people and places that played a major role in the history of various genres, which may not offer much you didn’t already know if you’re a fan but could serve as a useful greatest hits package and make for amiable viewing. Probably worth a look in any case.
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Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Palitoy says: "I’m loving the recent trend for high-concept/obscure subject matter for Radio 4 plays. All very ‘Cream’ flavoured. Johnny..."
- In 'As seen on TV: Victoria Wood', George White says: "They were part of the sort of “folkie”tradition alongside Billy Connolly, Max Boyce, John Cooper Clarke, etc, people..."
- In 'As seen on TV: Victoria Wood', Glenn Aylett says: "Victoria Wood had none of the sneering and contempt the alternative comedians had for the mass audience and this is how she became..."
- In 'As seen on TV: Victoria Wood', Richard16378 says: "Dinnerladies was a real favourite of mine, & a few years ago me & my girlfriend watched it all again over a weekend. She..."
- In 'Finders Keepers', George White says: "Also not to be confused with various same-titled films and webseries and other TV series…"