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
Ooh, we’ve mentioned this a couple of times recently and we’re pleased to learn that it wasn’t just us who’d remembered. This is the reboot of 7 Up they started in 2000 with the same intention though, obviously, with more women. They came back seven years later although the Beeb had seemingly already lost interest because it was dumped out on a Sunday teatime with no promotion, but they’re sticking with it because here – first part yesterday, second part today – we get to meet them for a third time. We’ve watched both previous films but we’re sorry to say we’ve totally forgotten everyone who’s taking part is, though we recall last time out they were all extremely well-adjusted and intelligent which was nice to see. Sounds like they’re all doing OK this time round too and, if it’s not quite as fascinating as its big brother series, it should make for an interesting record of the everyday life of your average 21st century young person.
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Points of View
- 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..."
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- 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..."
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