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
Saturday, 21.25, BBC1
Well, bit of an odd way to begin, but we’re including it here, not just because thanks to the football it’s a bit of a quiet week, but because it’s the thousandth edition – and to celebrate we get the triumphant return of Cathy Shipton as Duffy. To be honest, whenever we watch Casualty, like Emmerdale, we always say either “Oh, are they still in it?” or “Oh, are they in it now?”, so maybe you thought Duffy was in it every week, but if you’re a regular viewer we suppose it’s quite big news. However, rather awkwardly, this landmark has been reached right in the middle of the Schedule A and Schedule B business, so it might be tomorrow and many people might miss it completely, so we’re not sure why they didn’t just “accidentally” miscount and say a more conveniently scheduled episode was the thousandth. It’s the thirtieth anniversary in three months anyway, so there’s chance for more celebrations then.
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Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "I’ve been hoping the BBC4 repeats would get to 1982 even since the started. This is mainly because it’s when I started to watch TOTP..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Palitoy says: "Also worth noting – to reiterate a point made in one of the Cream Amigo’s recent (and great) commentary-casts – is that the..."
- In 'Sons and Daughters', Scott McPhee says: "Ally Fowler, who starred in Sons and Daughters, is still acting and performing. She sings in a pop group called The Chantoozies."
- In 'Monkey', Scott McPhee says: "“Steamroller schoolboy cult due to then-novelty kung-fu scenes, bonkers narrative, that theme song, and magic-summoning blowing-on-fingers..."
- In 'Bottle Boys', THX 1139 says: "I just watched that One Good Turn episode too, and the fact that it features both Robin Askwith doing a Bernie Winters impersonation and Bernie Winters..."