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
1979 here, but of course on BBC4 we’re a few weeks ahead so some of the tracks Tony plays will have been and gone from our perspective, though there’s a chance to hear the likes of Born To Be Alive, Babylon’s Burning and Morning Dance which got pretty short shrift due to the various dropped shows. Then it’s the music that accompanied the last Scottish Commonwealth Games (plus Creamguide’s holiday to West Wales, fact fans) this week in 1986.
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Points of View
- In 'TITAN FILMS', Enoch Sneed says: "DO keep up TV Cream! ‘The Sandwich Man’ was neither silent, nor a short. Surely you remember it from the Saturday 3pm slot on BBC2?"
- In 'Quantel', Olaf Schirm says: "I did use the Quantel Mirage at that times as one of the few (or the single?) operator(s) in Germany. It needed to be programmed in Pascal if you did not..."
- In 'BURNETT, Paul', Phillip Robinson says: "I totally agree with Nick o Teen, Paul was sadly so underated, I stopped listening to Radio One,when he left in Sept 1982, deemed to old..38..."
- In 'Wilderness Road', Matra Rancho says: "I recall the mild ‘Points Of View’ controversy about the amount of times an exasperated Cage said “Christ!” to his..."
- In 'The Children’s Film Foundation', Tony says: "Does anyone remember a movie about a boy and an old man who were out to catch a giant eel. The kid eventually catches it with a..."