28 May 2018

The Pigging 1980s...

Well, we know it's often referred to as 'The Greed Decade' by the Great and The Priggishly Hypocritical nowadays, but there's no doubt that the 1980s did have a bit of a fixation with pigs. Take a look at the festive porker above. He's on the lid of an embossed tin of lovely fudge I had for a Christmas prezzie in 1988. Kinnerton confectionary made a whole range of 'Who's A Little Piggy then?!' things in 1987 and 1988 (and probably beyond) and below you can see a couple of 1987 egg cups.

Needless to say I guzzled the fudge in a single serving - actually while watching Madge and Harold bickering in Neighbours. I was so intensely involved that before I knew it the tin was empty.

And lovely that fudge was too!

The tin has survived much longer and I now store safety pins, odd buttons and ear plugs in it.

But, on the subject of the '80s and pigs, you don't have to look much further to find more. In that prime porker of a decade, there was something of a drive by UK banks to get kiddies and teenies saving with them, and Nat West came up with the wizard wheeze of a whole family of piggies as collectable ceramic money boxes. Remember Woody? Remember Annabelle? Remember Sir Nathaniel? Of course you do! And all stand mute testament to the 1980s affection for a bit of a swine.

Here's Woody! 'Oink, oink, darlin'!'

And here's old Sir Nathaniel, larding it up on a badge.

It was at Christmas 1988 that, as well as the aforementioned fudge, I ended up with these as prezzies  too. From the same 'friend' who had purveyed the fudge. These very '80s porklets are enjoying themselves thoroughly - with a personal stereo (preferred listening probably 'Pig In Japan'), gym weights ('fit for business, fit for life') and a luxury holiday (complete with binoculars to guzzle in the sights).

'Why all the pig-related gifts?' I asked my 'friend'. 'Not some snide allusion to my weight, is it?' (I'd been hogging the Stella Artois a bit and I had a very slight poddy, which I was trying to offset by cunning use of shoulder pads).

'Of course not, sweetheart!' said my 'friend', all innocent and wide eyed.

That was OK, then. I believed her because she was never snide. Well, only when she was awake. And, to return the thought, the following year I sent her...

... these. Cute, aren't they?

It's 1985... how about some piggin' aerobics?

And we also had the mid-1980s 'Pig Tales' piggies by George Good - pictured above are 'Hogwash' and 'No Pain, No Gain' from 1986. Adorable!

And also from 1986 clap your little trotters for this Marks and Spencer cruet set!

Enough of anthropomorphic pigs! What about pig pigs? Well, if you liked the plain old natural farmyard variety, the 1980s catered for you too. Take a snout at the 1988 lovely below. 

So real!

Oh my gawd - my room looked like a pig sty!

And then there was an ordinary pig doing extraordinary things. Yes, the NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC pig! Proudly starring on my bedroom wall in the mid-1980s, the pig also appeared on several NOW album covers, but probably the height of its career came in late 1984 when it starred in the nude centrefold below. Well, I ask you!

Pig fans across the land grunted in delight back in the Style Decade, but one young pal of mine recently called it 'disturbing'. The 21st Century, eh? What a bore!

Pig fans didn't exactly have a lean time of it in the 1990s either - remember the Piggin' ornaments?

But, when it comes to the oinky ones, the 1980s truly had the competition beat!

23 May 2018

Coronation Street 1987 - And 1989... Phyllis Pearce The Material Girl And The New Side To The Street...

If only soaps were still like they were in Phyllis's day...

Faced with entirely uninterested Mr Sugden, Phyllis was undaunted. Come on, Percy, pucker up!

Our Phyllis was no quitter. She pursued her man for over a decade.

We've enjoyed a few glimpses of ITV 3's Classic Coronation Street recently, which has been reliving each episode of the Street from 1986 onwards. The strand has just reached 1989, which promises to be a corking year with the Alan Bradley story, the death of Brian Tilsley, Jack and Vera Duckworth's stone cladding, and the building of a whole new side of the Street as Baldwin's factory and the community centre are demolished and the new houses, shops and industrial units go up.

The production team teased us with blink-and-you'd-miss-them glimpses of the new development as time went on - and below we see what would become Audrey's hairdressing salon in the episode broadcast on 11 December 1989.

Also in that episode was a great favourite of ours - the legendary Phyllis Pearce, played by the legendary Jill Summers. What a fantastic blue rinser Phyllis was - never giving up on getting Percy Sugden to appreciate her charms, always ready with advice, a bit sad about the loss of her salad days, but still a very positive and young-at-heart character.

We loved her.

We have a feeling Phyllis would be as disappointed in modern day soaps, with their constant serial killers, explosions and excessive violence, as we are.

Phyllis did enjoy the occasional grumble about the youth of the day, but at heart she was very much a modern girl of the 1980s - in fact a material girl, and she and Alf Roberts's shopping-loving wife Audrey (Sue Nicholls) were happy to present their credentials on the 1987 TV show 'The Funny Side', as backing 'singers' for Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker's performance of the Madonna hit.

Cos the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr Right...

Flippin' 'eck - there's Judith Jacobs - Carmel from Walford - showing unexpected musical talent and proving that even the EastEnders could have fun in 1987...

Good grief, and here's Archie Brooks from Emmerdale Farm, James Wilmot Brown from EastEnders, and Bobby Grant and Matty Nolan from Brookside getting in on the act!

And our Cheryl's Mr Right in those days of success-seeking glitz and glamour? Kevin Kennedy's Curly Watts, of course! Who else!

Who needs Pepsi and Shirlie?

11 May 2018

1987 - The Colbys, Fallon, And A Flying Saucer

We've written about Fallon and the flying saucer before, but the subject returns to our minds periodically...

Poor old Fallon. Just what was it with her? There she was in Dynasty, a sort of female equivalent of Falcon Crest's Lance Cumson, a spoilt rich playgirl, played by Pamela Sue Martin. This '80s role shocked us as we were used to Pamela Sue as good old Nancy Drew in the '70s revival of the tales of that worthy young mystery investigator. Hurrah for Nancy!

But thoroughly '80s Fallon was not into investigating mysteries. Oh no. She was into investigating men. If you know wot I mean (nudge, nudge!).

But then Fallon morphed into actress Emma Samms - only Emma Samms's Fallon thought she was Randall Adams and was altogether a sweeter girly than before, even when she finally discovered she was really Fallon.

If you know wot I mean. If you've lost the plot, don't worry - so had the writers...

By then Randall/Fallon had moved on from Denver and the Carringtons to California and the Colbys.

Fallon gets a dislocated shoulder pad on spotting the craft from another galaxy.


Of course, The Colbys, the even-richer-than-rich Dynasty spin-off wasn't doing that well. But was a flying saucer really necessary? 

In her great book Soap Box (1988), journalist Hilary Kingsley gave some insights into why it happened:

Its writer, Robert Pollock, told me later that the idea had been that of co-producer Richard Shapiro. 'Apparently Richard had had a dream. He was tremendously excited. At the time the novel Communion was a smash hit. The supernatural was being discussed over dinner-parties everywhere. I couldn't discourage him. I was very worried about our writing ourselves into a corner. How would we get Fallon back? Richard said: "We'll worry about that next season." The scene was not received with enormous enthusiasm, as I expected. It will never be done again.'

So, that was it. How a legendary loopy 1980s American soap storyline came about. And the end of The Colbys.

Of course, Fallon was back on Earth in time for the next season of Dynasty.

Ms Kingsley in 1988 again:

When Fallon and Jeff returned to 'Dynasty' for the series this year, Fallon's time was explained as another of her 'turns', an out-of-body experience. The aliens' spacecraft smelt of cinnamon, she said. 'Were they baking?' Jeff asked. The poor man's disbelief became grounds for another divorce.

I don't believe that 'out-of-body' tripe. Nope. Viewers saw the flying saucer too, and the episode wasn't shot as if from Fallon's point of view (as it should have been if she was in a delusional state), so I reckon she was definitely whooshed away by ET's. You never know wot's gonna happen on dark nights like that, do you?

Such auspicious moments in our cultural history often lead to the question: 'Where were you when...?' Well, when Fallon got whipped away by the aliens I was in the bath, preparing for another night of wild excess at Tracy's Nite Spot.

Read all about it here.

I went to Tracy's Nite Spot. Fallon went...?