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
We’re absolutely delighted to report that we did indeed get Bright Eyes! And we’re even more delighted to report that we only got about a minute of it, presumably the most they’re allowed to show for “fair use” before they have to shell out a huge amount of money for it. Not like we haven’t heard it before. Actually that was probably the most exciting thing about the last episode which we thought was pretty rotten, full of videos and repeats, some of which we’ll see again this week as we’ve skipped one, but there’s some decent fare too. We don’t include Monks in that description.
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Points of View
- In 'An A-Z of BBC2′s first 50 years', Richard16378 says: "They also had Mission: Impossible in a similar slot, along with Star Trek."
- In 'Robin Redbreast', Stephen Campbell says: "Now Available on BFI DVD thanks BFI now do some more including the single Dennis Potter plays"
- In 'An A-Z of BBC2′s first 50 years', Adrian says: "Probably worth a mention here about BBC2 showing M*A*S*H every wednesday evening at 9pm in the 1980s for what felt like..."
- In 'Irish RM, The', George White says: "Grandad worked on this, in Ireland. Bowles is a nice bloke apparently."
- In 'Who, What, When', George White says: "Dark Season Dr. Who-it Simon Fenton is the Doctor, incarnated as a teenager when the Time Lords finally track him down. Exiled in the form of..."