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
This week Creamguide took a trip to the new children’s TV exhibition at The Lowry in Salford and, given it’s free, we think it’s well worth a visit if you’re passing. What we liked especially is that there are big pictures and biogs of people like Biddy, Edward “Cravat” Barnes, Joy Whitby, Chris Bellinger et al on display and we’re delighted the off-screen personnel get just as much credit as the characters and shows they created. And don’t forget, just two minutes or so away, you can tie it in with a visit to the Blue Peter garden at MediaCityUK, which isn’t behind a fence or barrier so it truly is a garden for everyone and we were thrilled to be there. And in a week we’ve visited Blue Peter, the show itself visits one of our old stamping grounds with a show from the beach at Colwyn Bay.
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Points of View
- In 'New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The', THX 1139 says: "As Sammy Snyders (Tom) would tell you, what Mark Twain really missed out was a talking teddy bear and a pit full of ravenous..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "As the late Larry Pennell (* Uniontown, Pennsylvania, United States of America/February 21, 1928 – + ?/August 28, 2013) as the colorful and..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "Mental note: If you really want to parachute and/or skydive, just remember always the audacious and brave “Ripcord” men, Ted McKeever..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "This is the most danger-packed adventure show on television of the early 1960s ever made. Every jump and aerial maneuver are real, photographed..."
- In 'Perils of Penelope Pitstop, The', THX 1139 says: "How come the Anthill Mob all sat in the front seat of their car, piled up on top of one another? Chugaboom had plenty of room for..."