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.
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
A full house for your PoV bingo card last week with this series’ first suggestion of launching a BBC sport channel, yet again failing to explain why they wouldn’t then launch a BBC soap channel, comedy channel and everything else, and then just have a blank screen on BBC1 for most of the day. Now we’ve covered the bases, not sure where this run has left to go.
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Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Gerry Dorrian says: "I don’t object to what the BBC wants to do, I merely object to being forced to pay through the nose to fund it with next to no say on its..."
- In 'Knowing Me, Knowing You… With Alan Partridge', Applemask says: "It’s happening. Deal with it."
- In 'The Collins Cream-ish Dictionary', Paul Bovey says: "Apparently, the “Hah, huh…hoouurgh” in ‘Mama’ was ‘influenced’ by Melle Mel’s cackle in the..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "I’m so glad TGG’s bringing the two seasons of “Ripcord” on DVD sets for sale that I’ll jump for joy! Geronimo!"
- In 'Organist Entertains, The', Applemask says: "I didn’t know Nigel Ogden was Metalunan. His show’s still piss-irritating though."