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
It used to be that everyone in Britain went to the same place on holiday every year, and certainly Creamguide did that with its annual jaunts to Conwy in North Wales, where we had many happy times, though the other Christmas we nipped back for old time’s sakes and were amazed we exhausted the town centre in half an hour, and heaven knows how we used to get a week out of it. In this series Len will be taking a celebrity back to some old haunts, every day at this time, kicking off with Dave Myers on the Isle of Man.
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Points of View
- In 'Dukes of Hazzard, The', Austin Maxi says: "Closing titles usually played over a scene of Rosco’s police cruiser chasing the General Lee Dodge Charger round and round some..."
- In 'Life Without George', Austin Maxi says: "‘Everywhere you look it’s two by two, everyone’s got someone, save for you!’ as the theme song told us...."
- In 'Call Me Mister', Austin Maxi says: "I remember that the Australian lead character’s vehicle of choice was a Mini."
- In 'Break in the Sun', Austin Maxi says: "The theme music to ‘Break In The Sun’ was John Renbourn’s ‘Reflections’."
- In 'Six English Towns/Six More English Towns/Another Bloody Six English Towns', Graham says: "Alec was born in 1907 and died in 1985 at the age of 77. He was a great historian and the..."