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
Tuesday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
One interesting thing about Radio 2 at the moment is that they’re broadcasting the Referendum Campaign Broadcasts, which we think is the first time this station has broadcast this kind of thing for about twenty years. Meanwhile here’s Eamonn Holmes to rummage through his cuttings with Kate. Eamonn seems to be trying to style himself as the hardest working man in broadcasting, and we remember reading a few years ago that he went through a spell of doing Sky News, This Morning and the Midweek Lottery all on the same day, and it virtually killed him. For all he’s considered the king of bland, unchallenging broadcasting he’s had more than his fair share of headlines – Princess Tippy Toes and all that – so this might be worth hearing.
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Points of View
- In 'Rondo Veneziano', David Lewis says: "HTV used the animation as a filler and also used the tune for programme menus."
- In 'Not the Nine O’clock News', Richard16378 says: "The (sadly late) Victoria Wood was considered for this show but turned down the offer. IIRC she wasn’t keen on writing..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Richard16378 says: "This has been up for a week is there a glitch or most of TVC on holiday?"
- In 'Creamvote quarter-final #4', Des E says: "Grandstand’s probably going to win fairly comfortably, so I’ve given the ‘busters a consolation vote. Hopefully, though,..."
- In 'Creamvote quarter-final #3', TV Cream says: "Dunno what happened with the voting function on this one. Sorry, everybody! We’re just going to tally the Twitter votes instead,..."