Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Corrie's Dud Story-Lines Of The '60s, '70s And '80s...

Sally, 1987: "Now, Kev, I've just 'ad a shaggy perm, I've got a lovely pink bauble in my hair, and we are going upwardly mobile whether you like it or not. For a start you can clean your moustache - it's got bangers 'n' beans by Heinz in it."

Since my post on my own personal worst Coronation Street story-line of the 1980s, I have received quite a large number of comments from readers listing their worst story-lines - not only of the '80s, but the '60s and '70s as well!

Let's have a trawl through some of them...

"Fame Fan" lists his or her worst story-line of the 1960s as being the train crash - "well over the top, and the studio set made it unconvincing". For the 1970s, "Fame Fan" lists Minnie being held hostage at Number 5 at gunpoint by Joe Donnelli. For the 1980s, the 1983 car in the lake story-line, starring Bet, Betty and Fred - "Street humour is often too heavy handed."

You think this is funny? Well, you're a right barmpot!

Mrs Hinchcliffe found the collapse of No 7 in 1965 "too daft for words - surely the whole terrace would have come down?" For the 1970s, Mrs H has a few candidates, but opts for the 1971 story-line in which Ernest Bishop was arrested for photographing a sex orgy in Spain - "Ernie, the lay preacher!". For the 1980s - Rita's amnesia in 1989.

"And when I woke up this morning, I thought, ee, it's 1982 - you know, like you do, I'll go to Blackpool on a singing engagement. They've got some lovely trams there."

Tim tells me that the 1960s train crash was a serious dud, the '70s shooting of Ernest Bishop was ridiculous - "Corrie trying to be the Sweeney", and that the 1980s main bloomer was Bet's marriage to Alec in 1987 - "They simply weren't suited."

Wendy thought that the comedy of the '60s sometimes went over the top: "I remember Stan Ogden getting involved in wrestling, which was pathetic." She found Elsie's marriage to Alan Howard in the '70s unconvincing: "He was far too posh for that street, or Elsie. I know the actors married in real life, but it was a stupid Street story." For the '80s, Wendy opts for: "Anything involving Sally Webster. That girl's squeaky voice and the way she pushed young Kevin drove me up the wall."

Chrissie thinks Christine Hardman's despairing waltz up to the raincoat factory roof in 1962 was "pathetic," and that the '70s really messed things up: "For years, we'd watched the Street, got to know the characters and their backgrounds, then in the '70s details of past stories, like the birth year of the Barlow twins, began to be altered. We knew they had been born in 1965, we'd watched the episode, but suddenly they had been born in 1963!" For the '80s, Kim opts for Len Fairclough's death in 1983: "We hadn't seen him for months - and suddenly he was dead!"

Dougal tells me that the "complete and utter pits" story-lines of the '60s, '70s and '80s were:

1) The train crash (1960s).

2) Deirdre beginning to date Ken (1979).

3) Deirdre marrying Ken (1981).

And finally for this trawl through, Margaret selects Valerie being held hostage by an escaped convict for the 1960s, the shooting of Ernest for the 1970s, and the introduction of Reg Holdsworth for the 1980s.

He were a right one that Ernie Bishop - getting arrested for photographing a sex orgy in 1971, getting caught by the police drinking after hours in a strip club in 1976, and getting shot dead in a wages snatch in 1978...

Thanks to all that have written. I've several messages still to read so there'll be more on-line at some point soon.

TV Cream Features Coronation Street - But Not Very Accurately!

On New Year's Eve 1979 Elsie called the '70s "a bad ten years". But history can be rewritten!

Isn't it strange how so many things from the 1960s and 1980s are now called '70s?

Take TV Cream's new write-up of Coronation Street (here).

It claims that Coronation Street went into colour in the '70s.

It was 1969.

It claims that Eddie Yeats was a CB radio enthusiast and a binman in the '70s.

He became a binman in 1980 and his CB craze was 1982 - after legalisation of CB radio in November 1981. Is 1980 actually 19710? Is 1982 actually 19712?

It claims Renee Bradshaw died in the 1970s.

It was 1980.

It claims that comedy became an important part of the Street's story-lines in the '70s.

But this is one of the daftest Wikipedia-style myths of all time - comedy was always important to the Street - and Bill Podmore simply sought to replace the comedy which had gone missing during the first half of the 1970s.

Nitpicking? Well no, I don't think so - if sites are set up to write about telly trivia, they can at least get it right.

And it never ceases to amaze me in general how many enjoyable items of 1960s and 1980s pop culture are attributed to the '70s.

TV Cream is far from being alone in this!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Maggie Jones

Just to say a few words about one of my all-time favourite Corrie characters and actresses - Blanche Hunt, played by Maggie Jones.

I was greatly saddened to read of Maggie's death recently. My wife remembers her in the 1960s retro drama The Forsyte Saga, but she first appeared before me when I was a small boy - in the early '70s retro drama, Sam.

Memories of Sam still make me shudder. In an era of industrial strife and blossoming yobbishness, Sam gave us grim tales of the past to "entertain" us.

That was, and is, my opinion.

But I liked Maggie Jones on sight - I forget the part she played, but she had more warmth about her than the average Sam character, and her character had that magic quality easily generated by some performers of being a real, everyday person.

When Maggie Jones first appeared in Coronation Street a few years later as Dierdre's mother I was delighted to see her there.

But her brief stay in the Street as a permanent character (1974-1976) and occasional appearances up until 1981, were in no way the glory era of Blanche. Personable she may have been back then, but Blanche's glory days lay much further ahead - dating from when the character was revived in the late 1990s. Of course, she ended up living with Ken and Deirdre.

Old Blanche was an acid observer of life and, for me, she represented the early spirit of the Street. She was very much an original character, and lived in the modern day, but her attitudes, her disappointment with many modern ways, reminded me strongly of Ena Sharples and Albert Tatlock.

Blanche was also apt to point out the absurdities of life in modern Corrie. In fact, absurdities have always been a fact of life in Corrie (like Tracy, parked outside the Rovers in her pushchair, being kidnapped a moment before a lorry crashed into the pub in 1979) but absurdities, as in all modern soaps, are now a much more frequent occurrence in the Street - and Blanche was never averse to pointing them out.

Blanche on Gail: "She loves a drama, that Gail, loves a drama. Never happy unless she's got someone's hands round her throat."

Blanche on Peter and Leanne opening a bar: "An alcoholic and an arsonist open a bar? Sounds like the start of a joke."

Sometimes I felt that Blanche spoke for us viewers who had enjoyed the show years ago, but now found it ridiculous.

Maggie Jones stated that in playing Blanche she always spoke her lines straight, never went for comic effect. And this added to the character's potency. Sometimes I thought Blanche had a point, as she spoke out against deteriorating values and standards. Watching the 1980s puppet character, Postman Pat, on television, Blanche launched into a tirade against the modern post person, and observed the lengths that post office counter workers might go to to defend themselves in our increasingly violent times.

Having experienced the diminishing postal service, elastic bands all over the garden path, and being grimly aware that our local shop (we no longer have a post office) had been violently robbed twice that year, I found myself nodding agreement.

Along with her acidly witty comments, and her tendency to stand outside of and ridicule daft story-lines, sometimes elements of Blanche's observations struck a painful chord of truth with me.

I'm getting old!

I never watch the Street - haven't for years. But I have enjoyed myself tremendously following Blanche's exploits on YouTube.

Blanche was sheer Corrie magic - and I can honestly say she was the only character featured in modern soaps that I had any interest in.

Maggie Jones was, quite simply, a brilliant actress, and the writers never let her down.

My sympathy to her family and friends.

I never knew Maggie.

But I'm really going to miss Blanche.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Annie Walker - From Old English Jellied Rabbit To Old English Cat...

Boxing Day 1977, and Mrs Walker (Doris Speed) was bragging to Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) about her daringly different Christmas dinner:

"So I thought why turkey? Why pork? Heaven knows, life is humdrum enough without doing the same thing, eating the same meals, year after year, so do you know what I did?"

Elsie shook her head, thoroughly cheesed off.

"A marvellous Robert Carrier recipe out of Homes & Gardens - old English jellied rabbit."

Elsie (flatly): " 'Ow nice."

"Oh, it was delicious! Alf!" Annie turned to Councillor Roberts (Bryan Mosley), who was standing nearby, chatting to Renee Bradshaw (Madge Hindle).

Annie: "Just telling Elsie about our jellied rabbit!"

"Ooh, yeah, great!" said Alf, not terribly convincingly.

Annie returned to Elsie: "Of course, it's the brandy that adds the finishing touch, but you can use Madeira."

Elsie (bitchily): "It's a pity your Joan and Billy weren't there to share it with yer, in't it?"

Annie: "Oh, wasn't it! I've always believed that families should converge on the good cook at Christmas time."

Annie's smile became a smirk as her talk of delicious old English rabbit gave way to a display of fine old English cattiness: "I suppose your Linda was too busy with her own family to have guests."

DING! DING! went the bell on the bar as a customer rang for attention. "Excuse me!" Mrs Walker walked away, bathed in a victorious glow.

Elsie was furious and made to leave the pub, stopping for a quick rant at Alf and Renee: "Flamin' Homes & Gardens - in a scruffy 'ole like this, with a backyard full of beer crates!"

Have any readers here ever eaten Old English Jellied Rabbit? If so, I'd love to hear all about it!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all readers who are celebrating a very merry Christmas indeed! The illustration above was featured on The Street's 21st anniversary/1981 Christmas card - "21st anniversary greetings" was printed inside the card.

A quick scramble through my newspaper collection brings us back to 1981 again. Daily Mirror TV reviewer Hilary Kingsley makes a heartfelt plea to Corrie scriptwriters after an ear-shattering carol duet from Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) and Eddie Yeats (Geoffrey Hughes).

I've had a couple of queries here - why are posts so irregular? Sorry! My main blog occupation is '80s Actual so posts here are as and when.

That's not to say that ancient Corrie isn't very close to my heart - it most certainly is!

All the best, folks!