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
A very broad definition of “arts”, this, the story of the tell-all book by Andrew Morton, the man we best remember for being called “a daft little lad” by Bernard Ingham on that ridiculous ITV Monarchy debate. The reason we mention it this week is not just to fill a hole on a dull day but because it’s seventeen years since the crash and the dates fall exactly this year, the accident happening on the evening of Saturday 30th. Rather brilliantly, the MHP’s Death of Diana page, which catalogues the truly bizarre and memorable TV coverage that day, is still online. “As most of the world now knows” indeed. We’re pretty sure more people have heard Bingo by Catch in that clip of The Chart Show being faded out for the news than ever did when it was actually in the charts.
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Points of View
- In 'Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, The', Morgan says: "I almost got lynched for suggesting on You tube, that the BBC took a “f@£k ‘em they won’t notice and kids..."
- In 'George and Mildred', Scott McPhee says: "Back in the late nineteen seventies, through to much of the eighties, one of the staples on network television in Australia, was a..."
- In 'CAMPBELL, Nicky', Gavin says: "I’d love to hear those interviews he did with Frankie. He even appeared in the Heroes of Comedy episode about Frankie."
- In 'CAMPBELL, Nicky', David says: "One of the things I will always remember about his late evening shows were his live interviews with the much-missed comic Frankie Howerd, including the..."
- In 'RADCLIFFE, Mark', David Bally says: "I will never forget those afternnon Mark and Lard shows, with Fat Harry White and the double-entedre. How they got away with it amazes me.. For..."