Thursday, 29 March 2018

Abstract moment of the week #8



It took a moment or two to register - had I heard it correctly? - then I realised that, yes, I had.  The writers of Coronation Street, once again, dropped in a cheeky little name reference that could so easily pass by all but the most attentive of us.  I've noticed they do this from time to time, you could play 'Mancunian Characters From Popular Culture' Bingo with it - for example, in an episode a few years ago, someone casually mentioned the 'Mark E Smith Suite' in a conversation about some venue or other.  Last night, we found out - but only through hearing the briefest of mentions by a hospital radio DJ in one scene - that Audrey Roberts was in the 'Tony Wilson Ward' at Weatherfield Hospital.

It prompted me to have a little rummage around the 'So It Goes' archives.  Here's Tony interviewing Johnny Thunders and Walter Lure in 1978 -  unfortunately I couldn't embed it, so may not be available outside the UK - but a great clip if you can watch it.

And while I'm on the subject, there haven't been any music series like 'So It Goes' for ages, have there?  Much like the music papers, I relied on programmes like this in my teens to enlighten me about bands and artists, it was the only access.  Watching them always felt a bit edgy - they ventured into the margins.  Also, looking back you realise just how chaotic and unpredictable interviews tended to be - when did things become so slick and palatable?!

26 comments:

  1. As a Canadian, I don't understand the references, but I did learn something - C watches Coronation Street too!

    There are still many great things about the program that I enjoy but, sadly, it's come to adopt, well, some tiresome American-style clichés over the past decade(s) such as every year or so it seems a serial killer has to make an appearance on the street.

    I've been watching some of the original black and white episodes recently and those "domestic" dramas contained some brilliant writing!

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    1. Hi Marie - haha, yes I've been watching CS for about 40 years now, the only soap I've ever stuck with! I know what you mean about the clichés, some of the storylines are getting more and more dramatic and absurd, but there is still something down-to-earth enough as well to keep me interested, and often a lot of subtle humour. But if any real street were to have housed that many serial killer residents, experienced that many crashes and fatal fires, it would probably have been bulldozed by now...

      Funny you should mention old episodes too as I recently stumbled on a few from the '80s and the cliffhangers at the end of each episode were so mild, e.g. shock horror! the bank won't lend Kevin the money for a mortgage! What will he do?!!!

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    2. I don't mind the crashes and fatal fires, the incomprehensible personality/character changes that seem to literally happen overnight, but it pains me to see a lowering of script writing standards to the level found on this side of the pond. However, I agree that Corrie will keep me watching for now. (Phelan is an excellent villain, don't you think?)

      British mysteries/dramas are hugely popular over here. Perhaps it has something to do with the funding cuts to PBS (Public Broadcasting) stations, meaning that they're forced to purchase cheaper series, but I've been very disappointed in the quality of Endeavour, Inspector Lewis and don't get me started on my opinion of Downton Abbey. (Michelle Dockery's annoying and phoney upper-class British accent positively set my teeth on edge!

      Sorry for the long reply, but it's a hot topic for me - fiercely pro-British, you know. ;-)

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    3. I find it really interesting to read your thoughts from over the Atlantic on something so very British - and yes Phelan is a wonderful villain (and a great actor imo). There is a tendency for this ramping-up of dramas (and reality TV!), though, which I agree seems to stem from an American influence. Fortunately though this also inspires the opposite, an antidote to all that, in the form of some of our very understated comedy-dramas - not sure if you get them over there but if not you may have read on here and other blogs about one in particular, Detectorists. If you ever get chance to see that I think you will fall in love with its very British charm (and scenery!)

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  2. I like how if anyone is having a "domestic" it is obligatory to conduct in in the Rovers!

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    1. It is, isn't it? Just as people always seem to have a regular full English breakfast at Roy's Rolls even when they're broke or in debt and only live next door...

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  3. Not familiar with So It Goes which sounds like an interesting series. I'll seek out the clip you shared, Johnny Thunders' song You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory (1978) is a favorite of mine.

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    1. It was a great series. There was that time in the late '70s and early '80s when there were some great UK music programmes which seemed to focus heavily on punk, post-punk, anything that was a bit different, and there was this edge to them that just doesn't exist any more. Different times that can never be recreated but hopefully if you can find some clips online you'll be able to imagine how it felt to watch them for the first time.
      I love that YCPYAAAM is a favourite of yours! The interview with Johnny and Walter really demonstrates the unpredictability and attitude that pervaded in the scene at the time, I think.

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  4. So it Goes, like Revolver (with Peter Cook), is a time capsule that I (and you too, I suspect) would live to revisit and soak up all its down at heel charm. That and have a beer with the bands in the Green Room, only minutes from going out live on UK TV - often for the first time.

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    1. Yes - perfectly summed up - down-at-hell charm is spot on! I remember Revolver well, also Something Else was one that really did it for me; when I think about it I can still get back the excitement and thrill that I felt on tuning in to it and watching the Clash perform Tommy Gun...it was as if it was just for a few of us, we were special. Mind you if I had been able to have an (underage!) beer with them in the Green Room I would have been totally speechless, so I'll have to re-imagine that one!

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  5. You know what, I can't remember So It Goes at all so am thinking that it maybe didn't go out on our Scottish ITV channel (Grampian) - We've discussed this before I know but our telly also seemed to be permanently tuned to the BBC when I was growing up so there are lots of programmes I just didn't experience. Coronation Street was a favourite with my grandparents but although I knew about it, I've never followed it. It was known for us to watched EastEnders in the dim and distant past however and it seems like in Corrie, there was always a high concentration of serial killers, fatal fires and car crashes amongst the residents of a single Square but how it has to be I suppose.

    As for this interview - It just wouldn't be broadcast nowadays would it as always has to be so slick. Bit cringy to watch (and all that smoking!) but a lot more "real" I suppose.

    Happy Easter!

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    1. Ah perhaps SIG wasn't on your channel as you say. Yes, ours was mostly tuned to BBC in my childhood, my parents weren't keen on ITV (how very middle-class!) but once I was in my mid-teens I got to choose more at least! Hence the introduction to Corrie too which I started to watch when I was about 16 I think. Before that it was just synonymous with the name Ena Sharples and women in hairnets, but I hadn't a clue what actually went on!
      Also watched Eastenders in the dim and distant but there's always been something less plausible and more depressing about that for some reason - I don't know quite how or why but Corrie seems to have something else which lifts it from that. Maybe it's the acting, or just the level of humour, I don't know, but we're still loyal!

      You're right about the interview - no way would it be broadcast, and you just couldn't recreate the attitude now, it would only be contrived, too much has happened since and changed people forever. But very real and very of the time, for me a perfect example of that type of programming and interview. I also watched an interview with Poly Styrene in which she was so shy, hardly able to look up and fiddling about with things, stumbling over her words, etc. People are so confident now in front of a camera that I just can't imagine it being the case today.

      Happy Easter to you too!

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    2. Funny how young people in bands are just so confident in front of the camera nowadays - I mentioned it over at my place recently but DD would run rings round my younger self and if far more confident already that I think I'll ever be. Not sure how we've done it but they are a whole new breed nowadays which means "down at heel" charm is sadly no more!

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    3. So true - I'm sure we've discussed it before and I remember you saying about your DD's confidence but yes, (young) people are a lot more confident now. I suspect much of it is to do with social media don't you think? - the whole underlying idea of self-promotion and the right (and means) to express your opinion publicly being the norm, which it really wasn't in our youth. (Far from it! That's why we had to 'rebel'!)

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  6. There's been a bit of this recently on Corrie. I've dipped in and out since the mid 80s- other members of my household watch it fairly religiously so its often on.

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  7. And another thing- So It Goes was amazing tv and the shambolic interviews are definitely part of its charm.

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  8. One more- Granada had other music tv programmes from the 80s into the 90s. I don't know how much of this was down to Tony Wilson personally but I suspect they wouldn't have happened without him.

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    1. Yes, yes and yes!
      (oh and 'shambolic' was exactly the word I was looking for too)

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  9. How I loved 'So It Goes' and much credit to Tony Wilson for all the madness he involved himself with. 'Do you miss looking like a lesbian'? Don't we all?

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    1. Haha, yes! He was such a doll...

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  10. Everything has been homogenised for easy consumption: even the dangerous is now safe ;}

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    1. Too true. Thanks for dropping by!

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  11. Yes, what is there on TV these days, except Later? Shame.

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  12. The last pop TV show where it felt like they were making it up as they went along and anything could happen at any moment was The Word. It was largely awful, and in many ways I think killed off the kind of TV you're talking about and ushered in the age of the slick & packaged. Now I look back on the show with a wistful nostalgia. If you'd told me that at the time, I'd have laughed.

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    1. God yes you're right about The Word - indeed must've been the last of the chaotic/non-mainstream music shows and there was loads about it I didn't like (too many knobheads doing knobheady things!) (is that how you spell knobhead?) but the live band performances really made up for it.

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