11 April 2009

Howards' Way

Howards' Way was first broadcast on 1/9/1985. Producer Gerard Glaister said: "Howards' Way is all about brave men and beautiful women, shady property deals and high-powered tycoons with expensive yachts and Rolls Royces."

Howards' Way had at its centre a frightfully posh English family, who were into boating and boutiques. Set in the fictional south coast town of Tarrant, afflicted with such residents as the thoroughly nice-but-boring Tom Howard (Maurice Colbourne) and the ghastly Ken Masters (Stephen Yardley) - who, unforgivably, started a trend for wearing sweaters with no shirts underneath, Howards' Way was lots of fun. The show had a great cast, wonderful clothes, wonderful shoulder pads, wonderful boats, compelling storylines and glorious scenery.

And the marvellous veteran actress Dulcie Gray (who had acted in this country's very first soap opera, Front Line Family, on radio back in the 1940s) appeared as a character called Kate Harvey.

Kate's daughter, Jan (Jan Harvey), was married to tedious Tom, but the marriage broke up when he fell for boatyard beauty Avril Rolfe (Susan Gilmore).

Family woman Jan rebuilt her life, and got involved in the rag trade ("Watch the shoulder pads in that pink jacket - they might need a stitch, actually...."); Tom ran the Mermaid Yard with Avril's father, Jack Rolfe, (Glyn Owen), an alcoholic; Tom and Jan's daughter, Lynne (Tracey Childs), sailed across the Atlantic; and her brother, Leo (Edward Highmore), was the oldest looking teenager on '80s television.


One of the daftest things about the series was the way certain pop singers/groups were heard repetitively blaring out from radios and at discos, parties, etc. The Beeb obviously had a deal going with Brian Ferry/Roxy Music - nobody I knew listened to their music as much as the Tarrant teenies in the 1980s. One piece of Mr Ferry's '80's work, which turned up during a scene depicting a fashion shoot was very fitting. The rest was frankly ridiculous.

Nik Kershaw was heard spilling out of radios and sound systems everywhere for a couple of seasons - he was a little out of date. Go West briefly basked in the spotlight in 1985. In fact, at one lavish open air party scene, the music seemed to alternate beween Nik Kershaw and Go West. When Roxy Music and Robert Palmer were heard at a trendy "club" which resembled a church hall disco, but was peopled with dancers wearing bizarre hyper-trendy clothes, we laughed aloud. But then Auntie Beeb was not terribly in touch with youngsters at that time. We did get a little Hip-Hop, but when the character who was "into it" tried it to Roxy Music, the whole thing became absurd. Back in the '80s, we took such nonsense from dear old Auntie for granted.

The Howards' Way theme charted in November 1985, another production of TV music maestro Simon May. I found the music exhilarating. Mind you, back then, fuelled by Stella Artois and electro pop, I found shoulder pads and hair gel exhilarating, so perhaps my opinion should be taken with a pinch of salt.

The following year, Marti Webb took Always There, the Howards' Way theme tune with a few nice lyrics bolted on to it, into the charts.


Forgive my poking fun. Howards' Way was, and is, a great favourite of mine (having my tongue in my cheek whilst viewing it was an enjoyable part of the experience) and if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!

Some '80s pals of ours who used to make our Sunday evenings great. Included are Abby, who got preggers and tried to drown herself, became an eco warrior then discovered her father was a heartless yuppie; Polly, mother of Abby, brilliantly bitchy and neurotic; Avril - daughter of alcoholic boatyard owner Jack - she simply couldn't shake off her feelings for the heartless yuppie, Charles Frere; Sarah, who had a flingette with grotty medallion man Ken, causing her husband to commit suicide in a speedboat; dependable Bill, who tried to keep Jack and the Mermaid Yard on a steady course; and Jack and Kate - two of the most lovable older soapsters of the 1980s.


Anonymous said...

All Howards' Way fans should see my new fan site!!

Drew said...

I've had a peek and it looks great. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Are you on Twitter? You can join in the fun of fan club re-runs of Howards' Way as well as engage with some of the remaining cast and crew.

Drew said...

I'm not on Twitter, sadly. I've been revisiting Tarrant recently though. Ken Master's bedroom looks rather like mine did at the time. Great trends, weren't they?