Monday, 16 September 2013

Speak Easy - September 2013

Victor Pendlebury and Derek Wilton express themselves in 1984.

Interesting question from Lorenzo here:

Did Coronation Street seem dated in the 1970s and 1980s? I've read that it lost touch a bit after the 1960s.

In some ways, Lorenzo - it portrayed a cosy, old style community that many folk in the '70s and '80s could only remember fondly. But the '70s and '80s were definitely present. The rising crime rate - and even that very new terror, gun crime, were examined in the 1970s, as was rising unemployment, inflation and other topical things, and the 1980s saw the Street experiencing many changes in trends and pace, with topics such as yuppies and computers featuring, as well as more crime - and a whole new development of houses, shops and industrial units. The Rovers Return and Corner Shop were also modernised during the 1980s.

Lindsey says:

I don't think you've been featuring enough stuff from the good old Corrie days recently. You used to feature loads from magazines, newspapers, TV listings, etc. Could we have more?

Well, Linda, we have had some brilliant '60s stuff in recent months - including an aerial view of Weatherfield from a 1960s TV Times, but, just for you, here's a few TV listings pics and captions from the 1980s - Channel edition TV Times.

Would you trust Hilda? Hmmm... Rita looks none too sure in 1981... 

Eddie Yeats - the barmpot - used Mike Baldwin's flat as his own to impress the lovely CB lady Stardust Lil (Marion Willis) in 1982... Trouble ahead...

Marion meets Stan Ogden... and Eddie looks none too pleased...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

1982: Stardust Lil And Slim Jim - CB Radio Comes To Coronation Street, But Could Marion Really Talk The Lingo?

 "Breaker break, good buddy! Hope you're hearing me wall to wall and tree top tall!"

Or summat like that.

CB radio was one of my top fave crazes of the 1980s. It was a decade packed full of crazes, Rubik's Cube, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, deelyboppers, dancing flowers, Trivial Pursuit, to name but a few, however CB stands out as one of my fondest memories.

Citizens' Band radio was invented in America by a man called Al Gross in the 1940s, and it had been up and running there since the 1950s. In England, CB usage had been known on a very small scale since the mid-1960s, but it was illegal. Films and songs like Convoy heightened interest in CB in the late 1970s, and in 1980 an illegal craze went spiralling out of control.

In 1981, the illegal CB craze had grown to such proportions that it was wreaking havoc in some quarters, with a hospital claiming it was interfering with heart monitoring machines, and a fire brigade desperate to track down a chattering CB'er who kept "fanning out" onto their frequency via a faulty CB. The UK Government decided to legalise CB during 1980, but this did not happen until 2 November 1981. Then, shops sold out of CB's and the craze went wide. It was at its peak in 1983, with 300,000 licences sold.

In 1982, the craze reached Coronation Street where Eddie Yeats (Geoffrey Hughes), former lovable bad lad turned binman, met the love of his life via CB... over to the TV Times, 2-8/10/1982:

CB slang and the language of love

Actress Veronica Doran has a problem with some of her fans - she can't understand a word they say.

It all started a few months back when, as Marion Willis in Coronation Street, she was driving a florist's van for a living which was fitted with a Citizens' Band radio.

Under the romantic call-sign of 'Stardust Lil' she made contact with another CB fan, the far from skinny 'Slim Jim', alias Eddie Yeats. And as every fan of the Street now knows, the language of the airways became the language of love as they met, fell for each other and became engaged.

"I still get a lot of mail from CB users,' says Veronica, 'and lots of invitations to their get-togethers.'

But Veronica is the first to admit that before the Coronation Street part she had never used a CB radio and the esoteric language of CB fanatics was a total mystery to her. Most of it still is.

'I had to tell one person on the phone that I hadn't the faintest idea what they were talking about," she says.

The Eddie/Marion romance is still fondly remembered, and, of course, the two finally married in 1983. I loved the way The Street sometimes tapped into crazes of the moment for story-lines. This was one of the very best examples.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Coronation Street 1982 - When Weatherfield Met Ambridge...

The BBC Radio 4 serial The Archers and Coronation Street were alike but unalike back in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Both were soaps, both had some notable characters, but, whilst none of The Archers characters had the style or breeding of Annie Walker (tragically, there wasn't a single Beaumont of Clitheroe in the vicinity of Ambridge), the radio farming saga seemed much posher somehow. I was more at home with the Rovers Return and Corner Shop of the Street than at Grey Gables or Nelson Gabriel's 1980s wine bar.

Norman Painting, who played Phil Archer and wrote numerous episodes of The Archers, did not seem to be a huge lover of Coronation Street, which he mentioned in his autobiography Forever Ambridge, and HV Kershaw, Corrie producer and scriptwriter, was not overflowing with praise for the rural radio soap in his autobiography, The Street Where I Live.

But in 1982 the folks down Weatherfield way were happy to help their soap world comrades in Borsetshire...

From The Stage and Television Today, September 23, 1982:

Getting together in the interests of the listener, Granada has loaned the sound of Alf Roberts' shop bell to The Archers, who were having trouble with theirs. From the left, at the recording, Coronation Street's series planner, Gordon McKellar, Bryan Mosley, assistant sound recordist Ian Maclegen, and film sound recordist Ray French.

I used to love the sound of the Corner Shop bell. It was last heard in Coronation Street in 1985, when Alf Roberts had the shop modernised. I'm not sure how long it lingered in Ambridge!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Once Around Weatherfield Challenge - Part 1 - THE WINNER!

 Gabrielle Daye - 1939 Spotlight entry.

Absolutely chuffed to little mint balls with this response to my first Once Around Weatherfield Challenge. This is a new feature where I pick a bit-part or recurring character from the Street's past, stick a photo of him/her on here, and ask you lot to tell me about the character and the performer. The first chosen was the marvellous Beattie Pearson, Albert Tatlock's mean and prickly daughter (played by Gabrielle Daye) and the entry to the Challenge I received below has bowled me over because it's so insightful and detailed. I never expected owt like that! So chuffed am I, I'm going to award a special prize - an Alfred Roberts Corner Shop mug from 1985 to the winner, SUE BENNETT, and to Sue - I say CONGRATULATIONS AND MANY THANKS! I received two other entries - many thanks to Colin and Pat for those. Please keep trying! There'll be more Once Around Weatherfield challenges (and prizes!) soon.

And, without further ado (I've got to fix a hole in't cludgie roof this afternoon), here's Sue's biography of Mrs Beattie Pearson and actress Gabrielle Daye!

Regarding your Once Round Weatherfield challenge, the answer is actress Gabrielle Daye, who played Albert Tatlock's daughter, Beattie Pearson, in the Street as a recurring (occasional) character from 1961 to 1984.

Beattie took after her old Pop in that she was mean with the brass, but Albert had a kindness and generosity of spirit under his crusty facade that was not so obvious in his daughter. She was married to Norman, who, in rare appearances, seemed to be a bit under her thumb. Early on, it was stated that Norman and Beattie had children, but this seemed to be rewritten very quickly. 

Albert was critical of Beattie, and although he stayed with her and Norman on occasion, was actually much closer to Ken Barlow, who had married his niece Valerie in 1961. Even after Valerie's death in 1971, Albert stayed close to Ken, who spent long spells living with him.

Albert was also close to Ken and Val's twins, Peter and Susan, his great-nephew and niece, who were born in 1965. He often visited them in Glasgow and was delighted on the rare occasions they visited the Street.

A chance remark of Beattie's in the '80's revealed that she charged her father a bit "for his keep" when he stayed with her.

When Ken married Deirdre in 1981, Beattie was concerned that she would be left to look after her father and made waves. She was highly relieved when the Barlows finally opted to continue living with Albert.

As Albert grew older, Beattie became concerned about her inheritance, No 1 Coronation Street. As she said in the early 1980's, it was the house she had been "fetched up in", and she faked some kind of sentimental attachment to it - which was a thin cover for her concern for the bricks and mortar value of the place. After Ken married Dierdre Langton and Albert offered them the house, Beattie was furious and stuck her nose in, creating bad feeling. In the end Albert accepted payment for the house from Ken, though less than its market value. Beattie reproached Ken about that, but Ken told her it was all Albert would accept. Beattie remained concerned about her inheritance - fearing that Albert would spend the money before he died and she'd get nothing.

Albert died while staying with Beattie and Norman in May 1984. Beattie redeemed herself slightly by presenting Ken with his Military Medal.

Gabrielle Daye did not appear in Coronation Street after 1984. The last mention of Beattie Pearson I recall came in December 1988, when the Barlows were going to pay her a visit, which indicated they had stayed in touch.

Born in 1911, Gabrielle Daye was an accomplished actress who appeared in numerous films, TV and theatre roles. Her TV work dates back to the genre's early years - the 1940s. She died in 2005.