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"The New Statesman" Labour of Love (1991)

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Alan has a rival

9/10
Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
4 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wonder what Tony Warren thinks of the title of his most famous creation being altered without his consent. I am referring to the re-branding of 'Coronation Street' as 'Corrie'. It originated with the tabloid press ( who love to reduce everything to gibberish ), but has now been adopted by I.T.V.-1 for its trailers. Some might call it a term of affection, but to me its plain laziness, and typifies the contempt the network has for viewers these days. It does not think they can handle soap titles of more than two syllables. Why do they not go the whole hog and change all their other titles? Viewers can watch 'Exxie' ( X-Factor ), 'Emmie' ( Emmerdale ), and 'Grimie' ( Grimefighters ). B.B.C.-1 can then follow suit by rechristening its top soap 'Eastie'. 'Corrie', an awful word, sounds like a Stephen King horror novel. Had the show stuck with its original title of 'Florizel Street' would we now be referring to it as 'Florrie'?

Rant over. Onto 'Newie'. Marks and Gran were keen to farm it out to new writers, just as they had done with 'Birds Of A Feather', but Rik Mayall put his foot down. Fearing a drop in script quality, he insisted that they stay. He was right to do so. However, the director - Graeme Harper - was new. He had made two highly regarded '80's 'Dr.Who' stories - 'The Caves Of Androzani' and 'Revelation Of The Daleks' - and succeeded in retaining Geoffrey Sax's filmic style. Season 3 was all set to go into production at the end of 1990 when Margaret Thatcher suddenly and unexpectedly resigned as Prime Minister. Good news for the country perhaps, but bad for the makers of the hit show ( and Steve Nallon! ). Scripts were quickly rewritten. 'Labour of Love' starts with Alan learning he has a rival for the title of 'the most right-wing member of the Tory Party' - Victor Crosby ( the late James Saxon ), who has just overturned a huge Labour majority. The two men meet and its hate at first sight. Alan finds Sir Greville McDonald's glasses in his bathroom, and deduces he is sleeping with Sarah ( but who isn't? ). Alan hatches a plot to discredit 'Bing' Crosby by making it look as though he is taking bribes from Labour to leak confidential material...

With John Major in Number 10, the Tories enjoyed a poll boost. For a short while he looked to be the 'human' side of Thatcherism until a series of scandals destroyed his reputation for competence. He was also widely derided for being 'dull'. B'stard makes that point. The Labour Party comes under fire too, particularly with the character of 'Paddy O'Roarke' ( Benjamin Whitrow ) whose Irish lilt is faked to design to appeal to the electorate. Labour H.Q. in Walworth Road has a sign warning socialists to keep away.

James Saxon was the teddy bear loving ( no wonder he and Piers got on well! ) 'Maurice' in the wickedly funny 'Brass'. Johnny More, like Roger Kitter before him, was also a regular on 'Who Do You Do?'. He does a passable Neil Kinnock impression.

Funniest moment - Alan is mugged. Watching the thieves run off with his wallet, he takes out a box and presses a button. The 'wallet' explodes, killing them!

Oh and we get to see Sarah in the shower too! Only from the shoulders up mind but you can't have everything.

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