25 June 2012

Coronation Street 1989: "Mind Out, You're Treading On Mr Watts!"

A classic Coronation Street comment from Bettabuy supermarket employee Kimberley Taylor, played by Suzanne Hall, forms the title of this post. She and poor old Curly (Kevin Kennedy) had walked straight into aggro in The Rovers Return in 1989 as building site workers picked a fight with Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). The workers were transforming the factory and community centre side of the street into a new development of houses, shops and industrial units, an enterprise of one Maurice Jones (Alan Moore). 

Wonderfully drippy Kimberley was one of several new characters introduced to the Street in 1989, including the McDonald family and Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley). The Street went three episodes a week, and Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) met his death when he was hit by a Blackpool tram.

The original Bettabuy's scenario was a great favourite of mine and I adored Curly, Kimberley and Reg. Add Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) to the supermarket staff and you had a heavenly brew.  Fabulous Corrie days!

16 June 2012

1988 - Wicked! Gel 'N' Mousse, Designer Stubble, Ripped Jeans, Party People And Boxer Shorts...

Let's take a look elsewhere... Ah, here's Blue Jeans, April 1988. Imagine coming across this girly in an English country garden - or anywhere!! She looks mighty daft by today's standards. In 1988, she looked pretty OK.

More from Blue Jeans - and Star Trek - The Next Generation is available on video. And then there's 30 things you didn't know about Curiosity Killed The Cat. What are you waiting for?

Ooh, those clothes! As I recall, they were very much of the era, and would not have looked at all out of place, but nowadays those girlies would be far more likely to be laughed off the rink because of their clothes than for any lack of skating skills. Mind you, maybe not. I've seen a lot of '80s gear in the last ten years or so worn by the young and the trendy: foul ra ra skirt and black leggings combinations, lovely jackets with pushed up or turned back sleeves (the turned back sleeves having the inner striped or other patterned material), permed and scrunched hair, bulldog clips, blonde streaks/highlights, shutter shades, jelly shoes, colourful trainers, wonderful clothing colour schemes - and more... 

Makes me feel old to see it back again.

A glimpse of two fabulous Blue Jeans photo stories - one of them called I Should Be So Lucky. There's novel.

I loved the droll irony contained within '80s teen mags, probably started by Smash Hits earlier in the decade. There's a fine example in this 1988 Blue Jeans reader's letter and editor's reply featured on the page above:
In Carly Simon's song "Coming Around Again" what is Mummy doing when Daddy "breezes in" and also why did the baby sneeze?
Curious BJ Fan, Bucks.
"Baby sneezes, Mommy PLEASES, Daddy breezes in." I've really no idea why the baby sneezes, perhaps it was sitting in a draught or it had just had a very cold drink of Pepsi or it had been for a brisk walk in the bracing air. Just use your imagination. Please!
Magic. And don't miss Freeda The Frog declaring her undying love for Gordon the Gopher.
"Bright and cheery" nail varnishes tested by Blue Jeans...

Kylie squashed a 1988 silly season rumour: word was floating around that if you played her records at 33 RPM (vinyl was still pretty "in" in 1988, as were cassettes, CD players cost a packet) it revealed that Rick Astley was actually singing, not Kylie. SCANDAL! Not true, said tongue-in-cheek Kylie, SHE was actually the singer on her own AND Rick Astley's records.

And here IS Rick. What's to look forward to in the next 1988 edition of Blue Jeans? A feature on stars in suits? Hands To Heaven Breathe? A Phillip Schofield pin-up? Oh come on. Is this a joke? Have I been sold a spoof mag?


Flamin' Nora...

I liked Sinitta's camp, hi-N-R-G pop. Here she is (with her toyboy?), revealing that sometimes he's a trendy boxer shorts man. What was all this with boxer shorts? Well, for years, medics had been fussing over we men's personal bits, claiming that they got a little too overcrowded and overheated in briefs and Y-fronts and that they really weren't good for our fertility.

Underwear had become very brief in the 1960s, but in the mid-to-late 1980s, made acceptable by the likes of Nick Kamen, boxers were on the rise again. A healthier, "stylish" alternative. Yes, probably, as regards the former, but as regards the latter - PURLEASE!! Compare this 1988 trend with skimpy 1982 - here.

Nick Berry - a Blue Jeans pin up in 1988, complete with designer stubble.

Were these "trusty 501's" ready for the dustbin? Are you kidding?

The label on that top recommended hand washing in luke warm water with Dreft. But would the girly listen? Would she heck - she was too busy moussing her hair up.

My mother was a "child of the '60s" and sported a huge beehive hairdo back then which took about eighteen cans of hair spray to create. Even in the 1970s, she would gas us with hair spray fumes, creating a more modest hair style, before going to the local Labour Club for bingo on Friday and Saturday nights.
In the 1980s, as concern for the ozone layer took hold, we youngsters gleefully grasped hold of new kind-to-ozone products like hair gel and mousse so that we could perform evil experiments on our own crowning glories.


Stars out and about in July 1988 - from the News of the World Sunday Magazine. Prince Charles shows off his chest, "Loadsamoney" Harry Enfield does his Stavros bit, being all caring and sharing over a kebab, Samantha Fox hitches a ride with Simon Climie of Climie Fisher and Ben Vol-au-Vent (as we always called him) of Curiosity Killed The Cat wears weird footwear with band mate Migi.
Meanwhile, Linda Gray takes a break from Sue Ellen, Jim Davidson's still about, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar takes a stroll with Danny DeVito.

In youth terminology, "wicked" was suddenly a very excellent thing to be. But what was "gnarly"?



Double er... 

By 1988 I was getting a mite raddled, and wasn't as "with it" as I once had been... Oh for the days of Toto Coelo!

15 June 2012

The New £1 Coin - And Other 1980s Brass In Pocket Innovations

Since the design, production and issuing of the first new decimal coins in the 1960s, and full decimalisation in 1971, not much had changed in the world of UK coins.

And then, in the early-to-mid 1980s, several changes occurred.

In 1980, the old sixpence ceased to be legal tender.

We gained the very first twenty pence coins in 1982.

Then, in 1983, we gained the very first pound coins.

And then, in 1984, the half penny ceased to be. It had been an unpopular coin for years, many people thought it not worth the bother. But still, some mourned its passing. One tabloid newspaper even published a full history of the half penny - going back centuries into the pre-decimal era.

The £1 coin, which would prove to be the death of the £1 note, was unveiled in 1982, although it would not become legal tender until 1983, and a fascinating "Public Opinion Special" in the Daily Mirror on March 10, 1982, revealed a mixed bag of opinion regarding the new coin - and what it should be called...

From the Mirror:

When Britain's new £1 coin was unveiled on February 10, we asked readers to send us their ideas for a name for the new coin. The response ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. Many reflected their dismay with the continuing drop in the value of the pound. Here is a selection of some of the many letters we received.

What's wrong with continuing to call it a pound? But if you REALLY want to know what I think about it, it's unprintable!

It's going to be a terrible nuisance. We already have to deal with bulky coins which don't fit into wallets.

I've already broken the clasps on two good ones and my husband is wearing away more trouser pockets than I care to count - Mrs O.F., Solihull, West Midlands.

The name that springs to mind is Joker. Looking like gold and calling itself a pound is a joke for a start, isn't it? - A.T., Redhill, Surrey.

A Monarch would be my choice. It has the flavour of sovereign about it but it is more original - Mrs G.R., Surrey.

We should follow the French example and call ours the Brit - R.P., Waltham Abbey, Essex.

I shall call the new quid a Thatcher. It will remind me that it was minted during the office of the worst Prime Minister this country has ever known - J.F., Northolt, Middlesex.

The new coin should be a tribute to the Princess of Wales.

An anagram of her name works out as Adina. It's attractive and easy to say. What could be more suitable than that! - Mrs B.S., Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Let's call it a Di! - Mrs E.K., Brackley, Northants.

Why not call it a "mite"? Judging by the size of it, you "mite" be able to find it among your small change and you just "mite" be able to buy something with it. Then again, you "mite" not! - T.C., Cleveland.

It should be called a Tory because, like the Tories, it's worthless! - B.C., Omagh, County Tyrone.

It should be called an Eliza, because you will be able to "Doolittle" with it! - W.S., Harlow, Essex.

Of course, despite all the little grey cells being exercised above, we called the new pound coin a pound. Or a quid. Just as we had the old notes.

Also in the 1980s world of loose change, we dropped the "New" from "New Pence" on the original decimal coins designed back in the 1960s.

Well, they weren't that new any more.

In 1986 the very first £2 coin was produced - to commemorate the Common Wealth Games, held that year in Edinburgh. This was purely a commemorative coin - not produced for mass circulation, as was the second £2 coin, struck in 1989, to celebrate the tercentenary of the English Bill Of Rights. Scotland had its own 1989 £2 coin to celebrate the tercentenary of its Claim Of Right.

Dallas: Pam's Dream And The Shower Scene

Pam (Victoria Principal) woke up to hear sounds from the shower. Was it her new husband, Mark Graison (John Beck)?

She went to investigate and pulled the shower door open...

Imagine her surprise when she discovered that the person in the shower wasn't her new husband, but her old (and dead) husband Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy)...

Mention Dallas and everybody immediately thinks of the 1980 "Who Shot JR?" cliffhanger (more
here). Everything before was just scene setting, everything afterwards... well, wasn't of the same standard. It's a piece of TV history we'll never forget. 

I'm fond of Dallas. JR (Larry Hagman) was great, I loved S'wellin (Linda Gray), Cliffy (Ken Kercheval) and Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) and so on - and, whilst 1980 was definitely the peak, it kept people talking for years afterwards.

But sometimes it overdid things...

In 1986, Pammy woke up to find Bobby (or rather "Barbee"), her dead husband, in the shower.
Only he wasn't dead at all.

But he'd been killed by Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany).

We'd seen it. 

We'd blubbed over the funeral. 

Well, I had, soppy thing that I am.

But no, none of that counted. Pam had dreamt it and in fact the whole of the previous season's episodes. And they'd contained some pretty convoluted, perhaps one might even say twisted storylines let me tell you.

What about Pam's marriage to Mark Graison? 

What about the strange man with the mullet who had just blown somebody up in a car (I forget who) in the final episode of the season?

What about the woman in the weird clothes who had planted a bomb in a briefcase at JR's office which had blown up both the office and Sue Ellen in the same episode?

Suddenly, we had to face startling new facts... 

Pammy, who had always seemed so sweet and nice, had cooked the whole thing up in a dream.
What was this woman's subconscious mind like? Warped wasn't the word for it.

I never felt the same about Pammy after that. Weirdo.

11 June 2012

Dr Who In The 1980s: Unsettled Times For A Time Lord

In 1980, Tom Baker relinquished his role as Dr Who, although his final episode did not appear on screen until March 1981.

Interviewed in the Daily Mirror on November 5th, 1980, Tom said: 

"Finishing with Dr Who is a great emotional jolt after playing it so long, but we need these emotional jolts in our lives, they are good for us.

"The Doctor has made me quite well off and believe me there was no row with the BBC. It was strictly my decision. I have had offers from America and hopefully my next project after finishing the present 'Dr Who' series will be a 'Sherlock Holmes' film.

'The Hound of the Baskervilles', with me playing Sherlock. I like that kind of role.

"There is so much nastiness in the world, so much violence and horror I want to keep away from it, bury myself in make-believe. I don't want the horrible realities. That's why I liked 'Dr Who'. It was all fun, fun, fun."

The last Tom Baker era episode of "Dr Who" appeared on our screens on 21/3/1981.

From the Sun, 16/4/1981

Hats off to actor Peter Davison. He's out to prove what a big hit he will be as the new 'Dr Who'.

Peter produced a whopping new space shot yesterday as he warmed up for his new role.

He will be wearing the cricket gear when the intrepid Doctor starts a new series next January. 

And Peter, who first shot to fame in "All Creatures Great And Small", wants to be able to bat his way out of bother.

Chances are he won't be caught out too often. Peter, who is the youngest ever Dr Who, is a keen cricketer already.

From the Daily Mirror, 11/1/1984: 

The new Doctor Who stepped out of his Tardis yesterday looking like a walking jumble sale.

He was wearing an outfit described by the TV show's producer John Nathan-Turner as "totally tasteless."

The Doctor, alias actor Colin Baker, sported a coat of many colours and fabrics, yellow-and-black striped trousers, a floppy green polka-dot bow tie and green shoes with red spats.

Colin, who takes over as Dr Who No 6 from Peter Davison in March, said in London:

 "The Doctor is not a human, so he doesn't follow human trends. Hence the costume.

"Actually, I think it's smashing."

The 1980s were unsettled times for Dr Who, and the original series finally ended in 1989 with Silvester McCoy at the helm as the decade's third new Doctor.

More '80s Actual Dr Who material coming soon.

How To Be A Wally

I'm not sure when the term came about, but in the early-to-mid 1980s it was decidedly "in" to call somebody who was behaving in a thick witted manner, a "wally". So popular was this gentle term of insult, that it became the subject of a book, How To Be A Wally, by Paul Manning, published in 1983.

The How To Be A Wally back cover synopsis:


You have just become a bit of a wally SIMPLY BY PICKING UP THIS BOOK!

Now see if you can take it a stage further. Buy it. Then buy a copy for a friend.

And you can both find out


in the comfort of your own home! Yes, with the help of easy, step-by-step diagrams, you can learn to:

Stand outside DER showrooms in the rain watching 'Game For A Laugh'

Feed prawn-cocktail flavour crisps to the lions in safari parks

Get the best out of your Colonel Bogey car horn

Destroy a Spanish football stadium

plus much more besides!


The complete, no holds-barred guide to the wally lifestyle - AT A PRICE YOU CAN AFFORD!

An ad which appeared in the TV Times and several other publications in 1983.

Sunday People TV critic Nina Myskow was happy to announce a "Wally Of The Week" each and every week. The honour conferred above dates from 22/8/1982.

Marilyn wins the sought after "Wally Of The Year" title in the Sun, December 23 1983. Lucky bloke! Runners-up include Boy George, Terry Wogan and Max Bygraves.

The 1980s House - Part 2

Nice, trendy Triton showers from Argos, 1989. This is a sign of the times - a gratuitous glimpse of botty. Believe it or not, I never saw any such thing in mail order catalogues before the 1980s. Were we trying to be more broad minded? More European? There were many grumbles as this kind of thing began. Gratuitous botty? Whatever next?!! Showers were yet another thing that the vast majority of working class people didn't have at home until the 1980s.

Of course, what you really needed was a power shower, to go with your power breakfast, power dressing, power napping, power walking, etc, etc. The black tiles with red grouting are an '80s style wow, too!

Oooh dear! 1983 Brian Mills catalogue. I favour the old rose, myself.

In the 1980s, microwave ovens swept in, as did jug kettles. Such a sensible design! My Brian Mills spring/summer 1983 catalogue has only one jug on offer...

... but my catalogues from 1985 and 1989 have whole armies of the things. The page above is from Argos, 1989. I particularly favour the red and white ones.

Dining in style in 1983... my cousin had something very like the table and benches on the right in 1984. Very lovely, of course.

How about these red, narrow slatted blinds for the kitchen - Index, 1989? I always lusted after some for my own kitchen, but never got round to buying any. Black was another option. I don't recommend white - boring and shows up the greasy marks carried through the air from your deep fat fryer - an essential for getting your Crispy Pancakes just right!

Red and black... Bella magazine, 1988. Adore this!

Bella 1988 again with another powerful '80s style statement. Pure beauty.

Index 1989 - with all that talk of power in the 1980s, it was only natural that boardroom blinds should start to come out of the boardroom and into the home. There's been a recent revival in this trend, so you may have them now. Lucky you! The colour of the blinds featured here was called "champagne"... mmm... more is more...

These 1980s curtains are beautifully colourful and would tell the neighbours so much about your glorious sense of style!

Meanwhile, these particular 1980s curtains can still be seen hanging in my house. Viewings by prior appointment only.

More 1980s Fashions: Girls Wearing Braces...

Ah, braces!

Essential for the 1980s
Wall Street look.

Nice big red braces, often with exquisite patterns...

But that was a male fashion trend of slightly later than 1983. The Sunday Mirror of August 14 1983 revealed that braces were making waves in female fashion circles. And here we weren't talking about outlandish dressers like punks or skinheads (or Chas and Dave fans!). No, this was your average girl next door.

As illustrated by the two models in the photograph which accompanied the article, braces could actually help to... er... accentuate a woman's femininity.

Koo Stark was giving braces for girlies a leg-up in 1983. Remember Koo? The American actress who had a brief romance with Prince Andrew in the early 1980s? People were agog, as Miss Stark had once appeared in an erotic film called Emily. Would she become a princess? No, as it turned out, and "randy Andy" as the prince was nicknamed, married Sarah Ferguson in 1986.

Anyway, enough from me - here's the text:


Braces are back - but now it's the girls who are wearing them, not the men.

Last week Koo Stark, following the trend set by cockney duo Chas and Dave, sported a smart pair of braces when she was pictured outside a London hotel.

But her clip-on versions, though smart and trendy, are not the ultimate in fashion chic, according to top Savile Row fashion designer Tommy Nutter.

It is the old-fashioned button-on variety that are selling like hot-cakes.

Tommy made up dinner suits for Elaine Paige, Twiggy and Bianca Jagger, all cut for braces.

For some girls however, wearing braces can have two distinct disadvantages. Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston said: "I haven't got a lot for them to get in the way of. But some girls might have awful problems."

So for big busted girls the answer is to wear them - as Koo did - only just on the edge of the shoulder.

Before the fashion fad, braces in junk shops cost 25p. Tommy's version sell for up to £19.95.

But for really cut price chic, Woolworths are selling button-on braces for £2.99 or Koo Stark-style clip-ons for £1.35.

10 June 2012

POST BAG: From Shutter Shades (AKA Venetian Blinders) To Albion Market...

  A Kajagoogoo sew on patch: Oooh, look at me - in something new...
Several lovely e-mails received. Thanks so much. I really appreciate hearing from people out here on Planet '80s! 

Firstly, Monica asks:

Did you wear shutter shades or Venetian blinders as they were nicknamed when they first came out in the 1980s? They're back in fashion now and I find them really cool and '80s!

Hi, Monica! Nope, I never wore shutter shades. I liked them though. I remember Astrid Plane, female singer in Animotion wearing them in the video for the group's 1985 hit Obsession and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys also sporting a pair. The trouble was, there was so many choices of fashion in the 1980s and I wanted to be so dressy that there was simply not enough time to fit everything in. Maybe I'll try them this time around! :)

Mark asks:

I love all the stuff on synth pop, New Romantics, House music and Acid House here, also the Hip Hop scene. But what about Kajagoogoo? When are you going to cover Kajagoogoo? They, to my mind, are a major omission!

LOL, Mark! Don't worry, Limahl and the boys will be covered here soon. We already have a mention of them elsewhere on the blog, but I do intend to do them justice.

Ooh, To Be Ah... really captured the zeitgeist of 1983! :)

Sara says:

Well done with the Albion Market soap continuation. One of the things I adore about this site is its quirkiness - so much great stuff, so dependable, but all presented in your own utterly unique style. And who else would have thought of continuing Albion Market than your good self? I never saw a lot of this soap, just started watching after Helen Shapiro joined, but I love the way you capture the tempo and the characters. So wonderful as today's soaps are so rubbish! Looking forward to finding out just who it is spying on Derek and Chan!

Crumbs, Sara, that means there are TWO people following Albie on here - which is two more than I ever expected! Thank you. I'm being very self indulgent with that particular feature, but I've always wanted to try my hand at writing a soap, the Albie saga reminds me of some very wonderful times in my life, and I love trying to reflect life in 1986 through the stories. Episode 103 is in preparation, so stay tuned! I'd like to see the original series released on DVD one day. True, it was repeated on Sky Soap/Granada Plus in the 1990s, but it was edited - many episodes brutally chopped - and a lot of good scenes went missing.

Garfield, Garfield Everywhere...

Favourite fat cat Garfield, creation of American cartoonist Jim Davis, first appeared as a comic strip, syndicated in 41 US newspapers, on 19/6/1978. The illustration above, showing Garfield and Jon Arbuckle, is a panel from that first outing. Didn't they look different?! Especially Garfield. Gradually, the characters evolved. By the early 1980s, Garfield was recognisable as the Garfield we know today, but it still took some years before he stood up on two legs. Studying pictures of Garfield over the years is fascinating.

Garfield is greedy, cynical and lazy. He has a passion for lasagna, a love/hate relationship with Odie, the dog, and is pretty loyal to his not-terribly-bright owner, Jon Arbuckle, all things considered.

This advertisement appeared in a Cambridge, England, newspaper in December 1983. The local branch of Clinton Cards was introducing the city to a flood of Garfield merchandising. 

I have had several queries about the "1978" copyright label on some Garfield merchandise. This refers to the year the character was first copyrighted. If you have an early Garfield toy, mug etc, it will have been manufactured in the 1980s. As can be seen in the illustration at the top of this post, Garfield looked rather different in 1978! 

Garfield creator Jim Davis’ company, Paws, Inc, was founded in 1981 to take care of the creative side of the Garfield licensing business.
This girly, wearing a "Frankie Say Relax" T-shirt with very fancy lettering indeed, nipped out to her local Bejam's one morning. On her way home, she spotted this major celebrity presiding over the re-opening of her local Post Office, which had been closed for a refit. 

Swoon, swoon!

Well, it seemed to be love at first sight, but in reality the celebrity had simply spotted the frozen lasagna in her shopping bag. We tried to warn her that it was only cupboard love - but would she listen?!

This card was received by me on my 21st birthday in 1986 and originally had a plastic "key to the door" stuck to the top right hand corner. I was quite a fan of Garfield back then and still enjoy reading the comic strip today. In the 1980s, Garfield posters adorned my bedroom wall, my tea was drunk from a Garfield mug and a Garfield cuddly toy lived under my bed. 

And sometimes in my bed, if I had nobody else to cuddle.

Did you take Garfield for a ride in your motor?!

A Christmas card from 1988.

The wit inside the card!

This Garfield phone was available in the Index catalogue from September 1989 onwards.