Thursday, 17 February 2011

Norma Ford - Looking Retro In The 1970s...

Maggie Clegg (Irene Sutcliffe) and Norma Ford (Diana Davies) share a smile at the Corner Shop - probably over Norma's out-dated fashion sense. Norma went even more retro at Christmas 1972 for the Rovers 1940s Show, teaming up with Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) to sing Apple Blossom Time.

Actress Diana Davies revealed how her dress sense as the Street's Norma Ford in the early 1970s was actually out-of-date at that time in a 1987 interview - and earned her the nickname "Di the Thigh":

"I used to play shop assistant Norma Ford in Coronation Street. Norma was a bit behind the times so she used to wear mini skirts and hot pants, even though they were out of fashion.

"And I've got long legs - hence the name."

Diana inherited Paula Wilcox's wardrobe from the 1970 to 1971 comedy series The Lovers - so Norma, who made her debut in The Street in 1972, looked rather late 1960s. Mind you, with flared trousers and quite a lot of '60s hippie chic overshadowing the fashions of the 1970s, she didn't look too bad!

Norma wasn't alone. I mean, take a peep at Gail in the late 1970s: she sometimes looked as if Punk (and indeed at times the whole of the 1970s) hadn't happened. That dreadful coat she used to wear - so 1968, darling!

Gail Potter (Helen Worth) sees the Faircloughs off on their honeymoon in 1977. Ever heard of Punk, darlin'?! Study old magazine fashion articles from 1968 to 1973 and spot the Gails!

Terry Duckworth, supposedly street wise bloke-about-town in the 1980s, was often so out of date he looked like a right wally!

A related point is that nobody could call most of the Street's youngsters' tastes in music exactly cutting edge in the 1970s or 1980s either.

Dragged round various fashion shops by my older cousin, Sue, in the 1970s, I can vouch for the fact that the music played was current chart toppers. In The Western Front, Mike Baldwin's shop, staffed by Gail and Suzie, the music was horrendously out of date - late 1960s or early Roxy Music - and the music Gail and Suzie played at parties when Elsie was away was either yonks old or '70s '50s retro.

When Sally Webster, throwing a party at No 13 at the end of 1987, came up the hall warbling away to Shakin' Stevens' Lipstick, Powder and Paint, I nearly choked on me savoury rice and turkey sausages. Manchester was the city of Madchester at the time! Surely we could have at least had Pump Up The Volume?

All was explained in 1989, when Percy Sugden, ranting about late 1980s dance venues and "Acid Drops" (Acid House), described it as sounding like a ship's boiler house.

Kevin said he didn't know - he'd never been anywhere like that.

Good grief! Percy knew more about it than Kev!

Maybe Jenny Bradley listened? She kept her musical tastes to herself, with her trendy personal stereo, so it was hard to know just what she was listening to, but she did tell Rita that although her taste in music was eclectic, she didn't like 1970s!

I seem to remember that Sharon Gaskell was quite "with it" for fashion and music trends in the early 1980s, and when Curly Watts looked after Shirley Armitage's little sister in the flat over the Corner Shop, later in the decade, her friend turned up and brought her "blaster" (ghetto blaster) with her, and we actually heard some Hip Hop and saw some body popping!

My flabber was well and truly gasted!!

So, back to the main theme, clothes fashion-sense. Who scores honours as up-to-date young and trendy geezers and geezettes in our grotty backstreet of the 1970s and 1980s?

Well, for the 1970s it must be Suzie Birchall - beautifully cynical - she actually looked like a hard-faced '70s baggage - and managed to progress fashion-wise into the 1980s upon her return in 1983, actually looking like a hard-faced '80s baggage.

Of course, there was more to her than that. She was a gloriously complex character for one so young.

We love ya, Suz!

For the 1980s, it has to be Kevin and Sally Webster. I had a bouffant mullet and 'tache just like Kev's from around 1983 to around 1986, so it has to be deemed wonderful, and Sally's grasp of '80s female fashions - bulldog clips, shoulder pads, Minnie Mouse hair ribbons and crinkly perms - was second to none. TV critic Hilary Kingsley described her in 1988 as always looking: "young, fresh and fashionable."

Good on ya, Sal!

Hard to suppress a snigger with the benefit of hindsight, isn't it?

Mind you, seeing so many 1980s fashions back on the streets over the last five years or so, I do feel an occasional urge to adopt my old Miami Vice style...

I've still got that neon blue shoulder-padded jacket and cerise mesh vest stashed away...

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