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The Road to Coronation Street

September 19th, 2010 (12:45 am)

[personal profile] poikilia was mourning the absence of Granada Television's Biggles from the archives the other day. Given the fragment of reconstruction we see in ITV Studios' The Road to Coronation Street on BBC Four, it's not surprising it's been lost, as if writer Daran Little is right, no-one very much cared. Biggles was a conservative commission, a banker which was a known quantity because the audience knew the elements of adventure. Daran Little, fan turned writer, summons the soul of the Street there and then; the old guard of viewers have complained in recent years at every sign that Coronation Street was becoming lazy wallpaper television. This wasn't; this was a hymn to the "real north", as Little has Harry Elton put it. The Bernstein brothers had come up from London, and while not intending to run a colonial regime are nevertheless in danger, as Tony Warren puts it, of crushing the streets of Salford beneath their new Granadaland, a shadow cast by the concrete and glass of the Quay Street studios.

Daran Little portrays Coronation Street as brought into being by a rising from the workforce, encouraging the Bernsteins (who though cautious have good hearts really) to overcome their reluctance to commission a run of thirteen, with producer Harry Elton as their cheerleader. Tony Warren (played with a coy camera-flirtatiousness by David Dawson) views himself as the hero of a fairytale painting, a Prince Florizel cutting his way through a forest, but there is absolutely no irony intended, because it is folklore we are watching, the mythologized conventions of the people from which Tony Warren and many of the cast came. In becoming Coronation Street, the series which had until close to transmission been Florizel Street appropriated the new Elizabethanism of the 1950s and pointed to the industrial, labouring and chiefly nineteenth-century foundations of a society startled at its transformations and its self-awareness.


Posted by: Susan (lil_shepherd)
Posted at: September 20th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)

The Biggles series was utterly dreadful, and the dialogue therein was plainly written by someone who had never read the books. Of course it was made on the cheap...

On the other hand, the BBC radio serialisation of Biggles Flies North recently repeated on Radio 7 was rather good.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 20th, 2010 10:14 am (UTC)

The Biggles scene on The Road to Coronation Street was used to show Tony Warren's frustration and introduce the character of Derek Bennett who directed the first episode, initially by having him berate Warren for not caring about how Biggles should land his plane; so definitely in keeping with your assessment.

Posted by: Polly (jane_somebody)
Posted at: October 2nd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)

Good lord - so instead of 'Corrie' we might have had 'Florrie'!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 2nd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)

We might indeed... though I won't have been the only person in the north (or beyond) who had an Aunt Florrie, so it would have had different connotations!