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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One of the great rock drummers, Ginger Baker played on some of the most famous records of all time and inspired generations of musicians, but despite all that he’s been virtually permanently skint thanks to pissing most of the money away on booze and women and managing to fall out with everyone because he doesn’t appear to be a very nice man. Seemingly this profile isn’t going to do much to change that perception, but in between shouting at and hitting the director, some of his collaborators talk about why they put up with him.
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Points of View
- In 'Naked Video', David Smith says: "The end credits for the latter series replaced the roaring Thatcher with John Major as a buck toothed mouse, I recall…"
- In 'Horses Galore', Alan says: "Someone on another site also says that the presenter was Susan George but it was definitely Susan King. I can however see a resemblance between them. A..."
- In 'Your Local Station – Across The Nation!', AlexTheEngineer-Ipswich says: "Surprised to see no mention of Laser 558, Radio Caroline (which took over 558 for a bit after the MV..."
- In 'Friends in Space', Danny says: "OMG! I’ve been looking for this for years. Watching it as a kid it stayed with me and I never forgot it!"
- In 'New Faces', harvey wood says: "I was on new faces in 1975 does anyone have any copies or information please thanks"