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.
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Been a shitty week for deaths, one of the saddest being Trevor Bolder of the Spiders of Mars, which adds extra poignancy to this big new documentary. In it they’re going to take five turning points in the career of Dave Bowie of The Dave Bowie Band, and though we don’t think he’s interviewed for it, seemingly everyone who’s ever worked with him is and there are loads of rare clips.
Subscribe to Creamguide
Points of View
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Gerry Dorrian says: "Yuo, it’s been a shitty week for deaths."
- In 'Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, The', Droogie says: "Am I alone in thinking Colin Crompton bore an uncanny resemblance to Frank Skinner?"
- In 'Wacky Races', Des E says: "Did Will and Joe intend to make more than 17 episodes (and hence more than 34 races), or is it possible that they *deliberately* left it to the viewers to..."
- In 'Who Pays the Ferryman?', Applemask says: "DON’T EVEN FIX A PRICE"
- In 'Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, The', Applemask says: "Clarification: Manning wasn’t deceased at the time"