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.
New! From K-Tel!
TVC on Twitter
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Second part of this series delving into the side of the movie business we don’t get to see and which will presumably ensure most people wonder how any films ever get made at all. Especially so after this one, which considers where the money comes from.
Points of View
- In 'Creamvote #14 The most unforgettable kids’ entertainment show theme', Applemask says: "I want to vote for “The 8.15 From Manchester” so bad it hurst, but I fear it..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "While I was a bit too young to get into this it’s still nice to see it back on TV. I did wonder if the early 1990s repeats of lots of old..."
- In 'Up and Down, In and Out, Roundabout Man, The', Daniel Bennison says: "Hi, I am Ben’s son and would like to know if there is a way of acquiring the up and..."
- In 'Neighbours', Richard16378 says: "Originally Neighbours was show at 13:30 each afternoon, with a repeat of the previous day’s episode at about 10:30. Once it became popular with..."
- In 'Neighbours', Scott McPhee says: "The popularity of Neighbours in the UK was often a discussion point in the TV press here. For one thing, kids across the UK were reported to be..."