Saturday, 2 October 2010

Steve - A New Mr Tanner For Elsie...

September 1967, and the TV Times came up with a souvenir magazine to celebrate the wedding of Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) to her American wartime love Steve Tanner (Paul Maxwell).

This started a bit of a trend for TV Times, which also produced Street "special" magazines for the show's tenth anniversary in 1970, the wedding of Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) and Rita Littlewood (Barbara Knox) in 1977, and the 2000th episode in 1980.

So, Elsie married a man from her past, a US Army Master Sergeant she had met during the Second World War.

Eee, those were the days, chuck - the days when the Yanks were oversexed, over here and over at Elsie's.

"Got any gum, chum?"

And Elsie's second husband had the same name as her first, although he couldn't have been more different from the shifty Arnold.

Behind the scenes, it was handy that Steve shared Elsie's surname as he wasn't going to be around for long and Elsie Tanner could simply continue being Elsie Tanner after the marriage broke up.

Eee, 'eck, lovey, there was some classy nosh at the wedding reception - as Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) discovered. But whilst I have written about the sometimes too upmarket diets of the Street's characters (occasionally more reflective of well-heeled scriptwriters than genuine back street people), it was fitting that the wedding food should be "posh" as Steve was a pretty classy guy!

For Pat Phoenix, the wedding was apparently an emotional affair in which the fine line between fact and fiction was broken.

Jack Rosenthal, the Street's producer at the time, recalled years later that Pat refused to leave her dressing room before the wedding scenes were due to be recorded.

"She said, 'I'm not coming out.' I said 'You've got to come out, we're all waiting to shoot, you've got to come out, it's the wedding scene.' She said, 'That's why.' And that's precisely what it was and this mood had been prevalent and increased during the run-up."

Finally, Pat let Mr Rosenthal into her dressing room.

"I sat and held her hand and she said, 'Don't you understand, it's my wedding day.' I held her hand and I did what you do with a bride, with your daughter, and I said 'You're beautiful and you're radiant and it's going to be the most wonderful wedding. Come on now, I want you to go out there.' I couldn't believe it was happening but it did happen and she came out and walked down the aisle."

The wedding took place over two episodes on the fourth and the sixth of September, 1967.

This was a special pose for the TV Times - Steve never kissed Ena on-screen. She'd would probably have hit him with her handbag - because you couldn't have men taking liberties. Or anybody else, for that matter!

Another TV Times pose as Elsie and Steve prepare to fly off to Lisbon on their honeymoon. Their departure was not seen on-screen.

Well, lovey, that were it. The marriage broke up quickly. Steve was then murdered. And Elsie was alone again.

But not for long...

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