13 February 2010

Together (Southern Television, 1980 - 1981)

Karen has written: 

I notice you've mentioned the early '80s afternoon soap, Together. I remember it vaguely. Can you jog my memory? 

Not very much I'm afraid, Karen!

was produced by Southern Television and first hit our screens in late January 1980.

It was set in a modern purpose built block of housing association flats called Rutherford Court, in reality a bunch of studio sets. I'm not sure if there was ever any location filming. I don't recall any.

Sarah Greene, later of
Blue Peter and Saturday Superstore, was Tricia Webber, one of the show's early characters. Sheila Fay (formerly Beryl's Mum in The Liver Birds) was the warden of a small housing association block of flats. Her husband was played by John Burgess, later "Bing" Crosby of Brookside fame. Annie Leake, formerly Wully Harris of Beryl's Lot, also had a role in the series.

I recall thinking that the show was originally slightly dowdy. The opening titles were later revamped and a theme tune with lyrics, sung I believe by Cleo Laine, was added.

Living side by side

Our lives are waves in a tide

And just as the tide flows

Our fortunes may come and then go

But with our friends we can survive

If we can keep alive

The art of living


Together was originally filmed three days before transmission, allowing for some topicality in characters' comments, but the second series went out live, and this allowed even more. Apparently, the studio canteen used to empty at 1.30 on transmission days as staff clustered around the Together studio sets, eager for cock-ups.

Together introduced a gay character called Peter Hunt in March 1981, who lived with a man called Trevor. Perhaps this sudden brave gay awareness theme from staid old Southern was inspired by the 1980
Waggoners' Walk Rob Pengelly story-line? Who knows? The writing was on the wall for Southern by March 1981 anyway, so perhaps it was just a case of "what the heck?!"

I thought Together was a good serial, but the only story-line I remember now was one involving the flats' communal TV aerial going wrong and Sheila Fay's character being concerned as the residents like
d Play Your Cards Right - which had begun in 1980 - and were in danger of missing an instalment!
Martha Finch (Kathleen Byron) endures a nasty moment on a disgusting green telephone in 1981.

Southern Television lost its franchise in late 1980, and its last day of broadcasting was 31 December 1981. Together had ended earlier that year.

I'm trying to get more Together info and will post it on '80s Actual if I'm successful.

Scottish Television soap Take The High Road's debut followed hard on the heels of Together, being broadcast from February 1980. That show was, of course, rather longer lasting!

Another afternoon soap of the 1980s was the English-speaking Welsh serial Taff Acre from HTV, which debuted in 1981. And quickly ended. Amongst its stars was Richard Davies, formerly of Please, Sir! Mr Davies had had previous soap experience as Idris Hopkins, corner shop keeper of Coronation Street.

And then there was Thames Television's Miracles Take Longer in 1984, set in an advice centre, and running to just one series. 

Gems (1985, Thames) had a rag trade setting and ran for three series.

There were only ever two series of "Together". The show made its debut in January 1980 and a year later the second series was on-air. But unfortunately Southern Television had lost its franchise in late 1980, so the writing was on the wall. On January 9, 1981, the "Daily Mirror" Viewing Guide synopsis for "Together" reveals that: 'Martha Finch hopes to get some decorating done'. 

Also on screen was Johnny Ball - launching a new show called "Think Again" - and those were the wondrous days of the first showings of "Monkey" on BBC 2 - 'Adventure with Tripitaka and his companions'. Sheer bliss!

I hope Martha (whoever she was) got her decorating done before the plug was pulled on "Together"!
According to legend, during the second series of "Together", which went out live, studio hands wallpapered a whole set during the commercial break. Perhaps it was Martha's?!


GS said...

I remember they would act out a moment from the programme as a 'teaser' before the credits - and it was often different from the 'real' moment when it came in the programme. One day, a character kicked the wall and a fire extinguisher fell off it - but when he did it again in the programme, it didn't fall off. I also remember an actor forgetting the words 'heart attack' when his character was supposed to be having one, and the sound of thumping footsteps across the back of the set as a man ran from one set to appear in the next scene. Great stuff!

Drew said...

It was lovely. The wonky sets and the live 1981 episodes were a delicious brew - just made for giggles!

Anonymous said...

Good news for fans of Southern Television's TOGETHER, it is being repeated on Talking Pictures TV late mornings from later this week !!

Unknown said...

I am watching Together on Talking Pictures TV most days now- gripping stuff ! Hahahaha

dave said...

There is even a dedicated group on Facebook!

dave said...

I'm loving this show, it's very relaxing to watch after work.

Drew said...

I wish I could see it, but I don't have a TV service. I'm glad you're enjoying it, Dave. I certainly find the old pace of soap operas much more relaxing than the frantic stories of today.

dave said...

You don't have a TV service? As in *any* TV service? I'm looking forward to the second season with the live shows, but it's a bittersweet sensation watching for the first time and knowing that most of the cast are no longer with us.

Drew said...

I hope you enjoy them, Dave. Yeah, I gave up on modern TV during the late 1990s. As Big Brother took hold, I dropped out. I now just watch DVDs. No need for a licence and with the drivel the BBC hurls out, that's a relief!

Jayne said...

Yes I have been hooked for the past few weeks on Together..don't know if I saw it first time round (maybe only on jigging days, I was 14 in 1980) but seem to remember the wide boy milkman as being a hotty in those days haha!!

dave said...

Wow, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe one day I will do the same. Hey, did you know that some of the shows are missing? (According to IMBD.) I'm now interested in those other ones you mentioned, but can only hope that someone decides to air them again some time!

Drew said...

It is a good idea, Dave, but sadly I can't see the repeats of dear old '80s shows like Together! Never mind - I have my memories!

Leanne said...

I was 10 when this was first shown. Loved it then and love it now! Thanks talking pictures!!!
Just watched lovely Susan Gilmore ( Avril in Howard's Way). What a lovely actress, shame she hasn't been on our screens for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I love this series. it takes you back to when soaps where purely for entertaining you. love the theme tune


Unknown said...

I remember Together I used to watch it with my mum at lunch time. The first series had the Southern ident but series 2 its Live from Southern. Am hooked again the stories and acting are good. I remember Sarah Greene thanks Talking Pictures TV a blast from the archives 40 years ago

Anonymous said...

Just watched the first series and am now watching the second series now. All the flats have got bigger and got different layouts. LOL. The best characters have left but the new characters are just as wooden and speak like they're reading their lines off auto cue so it's still enjoyable. Stero type heaven!!!!

Unknown said...

I've never seen "Together" before. I don't recall it being shown in the Granada region. I've just finished watching my recordings of the 2020 showing of "Together" on Talking Pictures TV. I thought the series was very enjoyable. My favourite character was Lynne Webber, played by the wonderful Sheila Fay! You don't mess with her! It was odd how the layout of Rutherford Court changed in the second live series. Nobody mentions what happened at the end of the last episode. At Joe and Lily's birthday party, the camera slowly pulls out to reveal the entire set, camera, sound, lights, everything! What an odd thing to do? I also loved the title song sung by Cleo Laine! I shall miss "Together". I also loved "Rooms" too on TPTV! Both great shows! I just love nostalgia and old telly!

Anonymous said...

I've just watched the final episode of Together, recorded off TPTV. I've followed it slowly over the past year. I will miss it, even those awful seats in the communal area :) And yes, they did indeed pan out to the cameramen at the end. I also noticed the preview scenes in series two didn't quite match the same scene played out later in each episode of series two. And I never realised until today that Dougie was the same actor who played David Crosbie in Brookside!