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
There’s been some good stuff in these programmes, not least Ike and Tina Turner running onto the set of Pete and Dud’s Goodbye Again and darting through River Deep Mountain High at a hundred miles an hour, while Kate Bush on Razzmatazz was a fascinating clash of styles, Kate’s high concept presentation, enlivened by an enthusiastic Tyne Tees director, offset brilliantly by keeping in Alastair Pirrie’s Noel-esque introduction. The previous guitar-based episode was a bit dull, though, so it seems to work best when the themes are really broad, which is the case this week as it’s odds and sods from the seventies.
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Points of View
- In 'CBTV', Droogie says: "I do remember Mel Smith’s old comedy partner Bob Goody also being one of the original presenters"
- In '“It’s a bad programme, and it’s yours”', Richard16378 says: "The local news being extended allowed some of the more off-beat features to included, but only in..."
- In '“It’s a bad programme, and it’s yours”', Damon says: "Loved the music and graphics though. Very 80s and cool. I demand a return to Nationwide at 5:55 after..."
- In 'CBTV', Damon says: "Wow has no one else responded to this page since me in 2010? I dispute the dates incidentally, I think it went on until at least 1984 or 1985"
- In 'Three Up Two Down', THX 1139 says: "Watched the last ever episode to see if Mike and Ange got it together, and right enough they had obviously just heard they weren’t getting..."