09 May 2009

1986: TV Snacks And Soap Opera Stars...

Here's a nice piece of 1980s kitsch - it's 1986 and from your friendly local newsagent you could buy a copy of this handy little booklet - 90 TV Snacks - Ideas, Recipes And Soap Stars' Favourites.

On the cover was the adorable Angie Watts - Anita Dobson - of EastEnders, with big hair, big shoulder pads, and sparkling pearlies.

EastEnders had first burst on to our screens in February 1985, with Lou Beale (Anna Wing) "doin' her nut" over daughter Pauline (Wendy Richard) and her late-in-life pregnancy, a grim discovery at Reg Cox's place, and a fist through the window at the local boozer, The Queen Vic. English soaps would never be the same again...

The 1980s were an interesting time for snacking: microwave ovens had debuted in the 1960s but were not affordable to the vast majority of people until the 1980s, and the possibilities they opened up (if you weren't terrified by tales of radiation poisoning) were endless. And then there were those natty sandwich toasters. YUM!

So, what did Angie - or Anita - favour in the TV snack line?

"A bag of cheese and onion crisps".

Nice 'n' easy.

And hubby "dirty" Den Watts (Leslie Grantham)? "Mexican Tacos for me, and a glass of good wine."


Coronation Street had debuted on ITV in December 1960, and was going great guns in the 1980s. What TV snacks did two of the regulars from The Rovers favour in 1986? Well, Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) was into a cheese or mushroom omelette, whilst Ken Barlow (William Roache) liked "A good salad sandwich - lettuce, cucumber and tomato in granary bread."


As a quick aside, I always thought that mid-'80s Kev had modelled himself on the dark haired bloke from Hall & Oates (see inset pic).

Brookside was the first of the new breed of 1980s subversive soaps, and blasted on to our TV screens in November 1982, on Channel 4's opening night. Asked for her favourite TV snack in 1986, Sandra Maghie (Sheila Grier) went for French bread with cheese or paté and salad, Damon Grant (Simon O'Brien) favoured tuna in oil spread on brown toast, Bobby Grant (Ricky Tomlinson) said "Give me a chip buttie every time", and Sheila Grant (Sue Johnston) opted for home made chicken soup.

Typically original, Brookside sent the character of Damon Grant off into a spin-off (or "soap bubble") in 1987 called Damon and Debbie, which ended with the death of the character.

Crossroads was on our screens from November 1964 to April 1988 - an often mocked but now fondly remembered soap based around life in a Midlands motel. In the mid-to-late 1980s, shortly before its end, the show was revamped but, despite rising ratings, still got the chop.

Jane Rossington as Jill Richardson/Harvey/Chance - or "Jilly" as her hubby Adam (Tony Adams) once called her - starred in the show, with a few breaks, from beginning to end.

Her favourite 1986 TV snack was cheese with slices of apple.

Benny Hawkins (Paul Henry) liked egg and bacon sandwiches.

Me too.

And finally, Dolly Skilbeck (Jean Rogers) of Emmerdale Farm gave us her recipe for tuna and sweetcorn bake. Jean Rogers made her screen debut as Dolly, taking over the role from Katharine Barker, on 1 April 1980.

Emmerdale Farm began as a lunchtime serial in October 1972. The show underwent several momentous changes in the 1980s, dropping its seasonal breaks and being shown nearly all year round from 1985 onwards (it was not shown during the Christmas season until 1988) and being networked - shown on the same day and at the same time across the country - in January 1988.

In November 1989, the show dropped "Farm" from its title, becoming simply Emmerdale.

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