Discussion in 'World Cup of Soaps' started by Angela Channing, Jun 25, 2019.
Separated at birth.
1. Howards' Way
The Tarrant soap was a favourite of mine in the Eighties. It's aged well in many regards and, if anything, has proved even more watchable in recent years than it was then.
It's incredibly soapy, terribly British and despite the pace feeling deceptively unhurried, the relationships quickly became dangerously and incestuously convoluted. During the fifth or sixth series, I actually had my mind blown when I stopped to consider all the different ways certain people were related.
Jan Howard is the embodiment of every middle class British housewife who watched Dallas and Dynasty and wanted a bite of the cherry themselves.
As Sarah said, Simon May's theme was gorgeous, especially the energetic end titles.
The Hampshire settings are beautiful and on visits to the area I've visited many locations used in the series, which are reassuringly unchanged. I heartily recommend the veggie sharing plate at The Jolly Sailor. And while you're there, be sure to check out the signed cast photos inside, as well as Jack's cottage and the boatyard which are, respectively, next door and next door but one.
The second series' finale is a favourite of mine. Everyone's so damned miserable.
Lynne in shock and covered in her husband's dried blood like Jackie Kennedy (he's been struck by a wayward boat); Tom facing a law suit following a death; Abby leaving town; And that bloody brilliant final slow zoom in to Jan at her most glamorously devastated - single tear and all.
2. Pobol y Cwm
I used to watch this (with subtitles) during my school lunch hours in the mid to late Eighties, and for a period I was quite hooked on the drama at Cwmderi. Who'd have thought young Gareth Wyn - the son of the publican power couple - would go on to Hollywood stardom?
I've previously gone into my reasons for enjoying this one, so I'll just cast my vote here.
4. The Brothers
Confession: I haven't actually watched this yet. But everything I've read about it tells me I'd always regret not voting for it.
5. The Practice
I feel compelled to vote for this one since I nominated it. I watched every episode but actually remember very little about the series apart from it had Brigit Forsythe (then a ubiquitous presence in UK dramas) and it had a brilliantly catchy theme based on the beeps of medical equipment (sadly, I can't find anywhere on the interwebs).
This one I only remember very vaguely, but James's description of it as a "low budget version of Connie" has sold me on it entirely (I would have also voted for Connie itself, which is wonderful, but I think of it as more of a soapy drama than a dramatic soap).
You're right, there is very little about this show on the internet. I really struggled to even find a photo of it to use as an illustration to go with my description of the show. It didn't help with there being so many other shows with similar titles flooding every search I did on Google and YouTube.
I'm very impressed indeed that you were able to find that picture. It must've taken a lot of digging.
Yes. A number of times I thought I'd found what I was looking for but each time it turned out to be yet another series with the same name.
I can only vote for the series that had international (or at least European) appeal, and from those titles I'll pick the ones that I consider a soap that was meant to be a soap.
1. Howards' Way
One of the (many) reasons: Polly Urquhart, a cross between Sable Colby and Charlie Bartlett.
2. The Brothers
I have the DVDs but haven't watched any of it yet. The reason I bought it was because of a YouTube clip that shows one of the wives complaining about the house not being big enough to entertain guests. I know it's going to be good.
I bloody love The Crown and Upstairs Downstairs, but I don't think of them as soaps. Perhaps it's the historical aspect which means everything's already happened, whereas one thinks of soaps as ongoing and open-ended.
1. Springhill - At the time it felt like a secret soap that no-one else knew about.
2. Connie - Part of me feels I might have been bending the rules by suggesting this one, but the grey Midlands setting, the 80s greed and avarice, the heightened dialogue and of course Stephanie Beacham as a kind of Alan Bennett version of Sable Colby ("My spoon is going in the gravy, my snout is going in the trough") all combined to make something uniquely, irresistibly soapy. Plus there's Willy Russell's lovely, wistful theme song.
3. Families - another secret soap, this time in the afternoons!
4. The Archers - A favourite of my dad's back when he wasn't stone deaf, and the one show Nancy Banks-Smith, the Guardian's legendary TV and radio critic, occasionally comes out of retirement to write about. Here's her recent, beautifully written eulogy for Joe Grundy:
I listened to The Archers myself for a spell in the '80s and enjoyed it. It was around the same time as the half the cast starting turning up in Nicola Freeman-era Crossroads.
5. Acorn Antiques - "Oh, I'm grey now, Mr Clifford, very grey indeed, but right up to 1947, my hair was red -- as red as a London bus."
For some reason, I've never felt tempted to watch Howard's Way -- until now.
I havent watched a huge amount from the final list, Dallas took up my love and time and i was a busy wee thing back in the day - out at this and that and didnt have time to be "loyal" to other shows.
1. Angels - one of the first "grown up" shows i remember watching from primary school and i always thought Id like to be a nurse until i found out you had to take people to the toilet!!
2. Acorn Antiques - because Victoria Wood was a genius and I miss her to this day
3.The Crown - beautifully acted and casted s1-2
4. Take the High road -because I know someone who was in it
I think some of the nominees are drama series more than soap operas. Where the line goes between a soap and a drama is really difficult to say. I am just going by subjective feeling on that.
1. Holby City
4. The Bill
6. The Archers
I realise Downton is prob more a drama series per say than a soap opera but I love it anyway and for me it is the most outstanding series on tv anywhere since the 80s so
1. Downton Abbey
2. Acorn Antiques
3. Upstairs Downstairs
4. Connie (‘cause Stephanie was in it)
5. Howard’s Way
6. Footballer’s Wives (‘cause Joan was in it)
Oh my yes.
For what it's worth, I knew nothing about it before this World Cup.
I must say I'm intrigued. Far too few soaps have featured the second coming of Christ.
The anarchist in me briefly enjoyed that. But you've so artfully described the soapiness of it all it now feels like it's well within the rules.
It's so endlessly quotable.
I still feel very privileged that Victoria once brushed the shoulder of her puffa jacket against the sleeve of my jumper as she walked past.
Gosh. You mean you've never seen it? Ever?
Oh... now you pretty much have to.
It's just occurred to me that HW has some elements you enjoyed in your #2 choice (minus the grey Midlands setting, sadly. And sans Stephanie Beacham. But there's still Kate O'Mara).
In that case, Willie, I'm a little surprised you didn't include Triangle. Exotic European locations like Felixtowe, Amsterdam and Gothenberg. And Kate O'Mara gamely going topless on the frozen North Sea.
If that's not international appeal I don't know what is!
Strangely not. I had pretty strong convictions as to why I wouldn't watch it at the time, but now I can't really remember what they were. (I mean, it's not as if I was exactly picky otherwise.)
I think I do. Aside from your persuasive description, there's also Jan Harvey's recentish portrayal of Sharon's wicked biological aunty on ENDERS which I really liked.
1 - Night & Day: I don't think there's been a UK soap before it or since that enjoyed such slick production values and writing. Also, for anyone that's interested, the bulk of it is online to enjoy.
2 - Footballers Wives: it epitomised that early 00's era of trashy celeb culture that coincided with Big Brother propelling nobodies to stardom. Tacky glamour, mahogany fake tans and mock Tudor mansions were the order of the day. It also gave us some of the most ridiculously OTT plotlines ever committed to British TV (hello, fake tan baby swap).
3 - Eldorado: for the accolade of being the shortest lived soap which left the longest lasting impression. It's still talked about today (for all the wrong reasons) and even generated this interesting documentary about how the whole fiasco unfolded.
4 - Take The High Road: my main memories of this are from it's later "High Road" era. While some are critical that the show pushed a "tartan" view of Scottish life, I thought it was beautifully shot when out on location and that theme tune is magical.
5 - Howard's Way: I was too young to remember this first time around but enjoyed it when it cropped up on UK Drama in the 00's. The inclusion of a post Dynasty Kate O'Mara was a masterstroke in really hammering home the show's MO.
6 - Families: I may have chosen Family Affairs in my original nominations but I'm swapping them out for these families in this round. Solely because Families was an interesting concept for a UK soap with it's dual action happening on both sides of the world.
Fascinating. If you ever remember your reasons I'd love to know.
I can certainly relate.
It's good to see she's still getting some meaty roles.
When I watched Whodunnit? recently, Jan (sometimes alongside her future HW co-star/future real life hubby) appeared in four or five episodes in various roles from femmes fatales to mousy secretaries, and she was fun in all of them. She was involved in one of my favourite moments of the series where she bored Richard O'Sullivan to death with her tattie hoggie and then stuffed a cigarette in her mouth to hide her corpsing (from about 32 mins below):
I didn't mean the locations or the nationality of the characters. It's just that most of the titles from Angela's list were never shown in the Benelux, therefore I would automatically vote against them in the World Cup battles purely based on the fact that I know nothing about these stories.
But Upstairs Downstairs was also very popular in Holland, of course.
I am wondering if this show might have been the inspiration for the Swedish soap "Rederiet".
Only they travelled Helsinki-Stockholm.
1. The Crown
The best show out of the bunch IMHO. It may be a bit classy but not above showing nudity or surgery or coughing blood from illness. A bit bad taste in those choices since it depics the lives of real life people. But it's an interesting melodrama and yes it has soap elements so it gets my vote. Besides I love the British Royalties.
I love the British Royalties so I enjoy this. I also love that it has a historical aspect to it as I learn new things about the 1800s and some actual events that happened.
I have never watched this one. But Stephanie Beacham is in it so enough reason to vote for it.
4. Upstairs Downstairs
I haven't watched this show either. But it looks interesting so I might do some time in the future.
5. Downton Abbey
Another show that is on my possible to watch list.
6. Pobol Y Cwm
I love Wales. I don't know the language. But I think since it's the only soap in a minority language it deserves the recognition. Also it has apparently been on TV for a long time.
I could never vote for Eldorado as at that time they took off my beloved Terry Wogan to make way for it and terry had Dallas guests on his show regularly!
I was very miffed at the time!!
They should have had Dallas guests on Eldorado. That might have softened the blow.
2. Family Affairs
3. Albion Market
That's it for this round, I haven't watched any other soaps and there are quite a few dramas on the list where I struggle to see as a soap. Plus I'm not gifted like @Karin Schill where I can say one show is better than the rest without actually watching them all to make that statement, but kudos to Karin for doing so.
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