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.
TVC on Twitter
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Been a fantastic run of shows recently and we’re particularly thrilled to see this episode, one of those we’ve been waiting to see since the repeats began. As you’ll have seen from his dynamic entrance last time out, it’s the first episode presented by Andy Peebles, but it’s also the last he does for three years, and because it was never shown on UK Gold, and very little of it appears to have been shown on TOTP2, we’re absolutely fascinated to see how he does. Presumably, he didn’t much enjoy it. As fate would have it, his appearance also coincided with the height of the ITV strike which means this is the highest rated episode of all time, pulling in a whopping 19.7 million viewers. Better yet, that enormous captive audience were met with a brilliantly eclectic line-up, one of the most diverse ever, heralded by the Dooleys’ silliest record – and therefore by far their best.
Subscribe to Creamguide
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..."