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
The Mercury Prize has flitted between the Beeb and C4 in recent years, but it’s back on the Beeb now and this year’s result will be revealed live tonight. What we especially like about the prize is obviously that it’s still named after the defunct company that originally sponsored it, and we even wonder how many younger viewers even realise that it even was a sponsor and not just a fancy name, a bit like the Britannia Stadium and the Liberty Stadium. Anyway, after it’s announced we’ll be able to enjoy some previous winners, and decide whether it’s a great honour or a poisoned chalice.
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Points of View
- In 'Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings', THX 1139 says: "When I was very little I was enchanted by this programme’s catchy theme tune, and would consider it a “life..."
- In 'Indoor League', THX 1139 says: "In most episodes you’d be lucky to see who won the matches, so easily distracted was the director. Judging by the amount of beer flowing, maybe..."
- In 'Horses Galore', Trev says: "Yep. Definitely Susan King (ah…tight jodhpurs,and sweaters!) The show had something to with horses, apparently. “Drake is a well developed..."
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Des E says: "And let’s not forget one2one, which was set up by Mercury in 1993 and whose ads used that glorious telephoney-rubber bandy tune by the Penguin..."
- In 'Indoors Outdoors', George Lennan says: "It was 50s telly cook Zena Skinner in the kitchen not Barret. She was an old bird then, but still alive as of November 2015! In the Garden was..."