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
After the sporting compilation, here’s the centrepiece of the celebrations – though not the end, as we’re promised more, including a Harry and Paul special, “sprinkled across the schedules throughout the year” – as Dara O’Briain and top Creamer Richard Osman host this special. It’s all based around a quiz but you’re to expect lots of clips and surprise guests popping in throughout its hundred minute running time, and it should all be perfectly entertaining holiday fare.
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Points of View
- In 'Play Chess', Graham Pearson says: "Play Chess was generally broadcast during the school holidays. I also remember BBC2 coverage of two senior chess players in action."
- In 'Fast Forward', Scott McPhee says: "This was shown on Australian television, too. I seem to remember Fast Forward had a vox pop segment. In this, a camera crew went to a generic..."
- In 'Rainbow', Scott McPhee says: "Why no mention of Zippy and Bungle?"
- In 'Words and Pictures', Rehannah Mian says: "I have just uploaded the Words and Pictures Halloween episode. It has the witches song in it but not the pumpkin..."
- In 'For the West ', malcolm says: "Does anybody know where I can find this to buy ? My brother acted in it as a child and only got to see it once. It would make a great gift :0)"