Sunday, 8 February 2009

1979: The ITV Strike - ARRGGGHHH!!!

The Daily Star, August 28, 1979 - "Shake Down To 1979" - yeah, right! The ultimate year of that grim decade brought us the murder of Earl Mountbatten of Burma and a host of other grisly events.

You couldn't even watch your favourite soap to escape the grim realities from August to October as ITV was knocked off the air by a technicians' strike.

And in those days we only had three TV channels and, as BBC2 was decidedly "minority interest", that left the vast majority of us with BBC1. Videos? Sadly not. Only 5% of UK households had a VCR in 1980, they were expensive beasts, so in 1979 we were really stuck. Should we read? Should we talk? How could we spend our time without ITV? I fidgeted. And moped.

How I missed The Street! I ached for it! Deirdre had just received a letter from husband Ray in Holland that had reduced her to tears. What was going on?

Well, it seems life in The Street was continuing in our enforced absence...

From the Daily Star:

Coronation Street's best kept secret is out... Brian and Gail have got married.

And the Daily Star has beaten the ITV blackout to bring millions of Street addicts exclusive pictures of the happy event.

They were snapped by housewife Mary Watson, of Rutbleglen, Glasgow, who spotted the "wedding" party while visiting her sister in Salford.

"I couldn't believe my luck," said Street fan Mary.

"I was wondering what had happened to Brian and Gail - then suddenly there they were in front of me."

The stars came out in force to watch Gail - actress Helen Worth - and Brian, played by Christopher Quinten, tie the knot.

Gail wore white, and Brian's mum and dad, Bert and Ivy (Peter Dudley and Lynne Perrie) looked suitably impressed.

Cheryl Murray, who plays Gail's sexy pal, Suzie Birchall, made a radiant bridesmaid.

Said Mary: "I couldn't resist taking the pictures. The blackout may go on for ever, and some people would never know what had happened to the couple."

A spokesman for Granada TV said last night that they had been "swamped" with inquiries about Brian and Gail since the technicians' strike forced the show off the air two weeks ago.

Now you can stop biting your nails, folks, thanks to Mary's candid camera.

Say "Cheese!"

The wedding pic! Left to right: Audrey Potter (Sue Nicholls), Suzie Birchall (Cheryl Murray) Gail (Helen Worth) and Brian Tilsley (Christopher Quinten), and Ivy (Lynne Perrie) and Bert Tilsley (Peter Dudley).

Here's Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) welcoming us back to The Street after the Strike had ended in October 1979. This was a special "reminder" scene, screened just before the first post-Strike episode was shown.

Len was alone at first: "Welcome back! We've missed yer! Now, I suppose I'd better remind you what was going on in our little street when you were here last. Well, there's always a bit of excitement about a wedding - can't imagine why! Gail and Brian are about to get hitched..."

As Len ran through current events, Bet, apparently on her way into work at The Rovers, joined him and asked if he'd heard about the letter Deirdre had received "from that rat Langton in Holland".

"What letter?" asked Len.

"Mind yer own business, it's nowt to do wi' you!" Bet teased. "I suppose I'll be seeing your ugly mug in there later?" - indicating The Rovers, and after a quick farewell, she went inside.

"See what I mean? It never changes, does it? There's always something going on!" said Len to us, the telly audience. "See you later!"

And the Granada logo flashed up and the opening credits began, and we Corrie junkies settled back for our first fix in ages.


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