Thursday, 15 January 2015

Seventies TV: Terry & June (with me being distracted onto seventies cars)

Picture credit: here
And so we come to another show that I remember watching when it was new. It only started in the 70s, 1979 to be precise, but I have one odd episode on one of those discs given away with Sunday papers, which is fortunately the first series episode where they move house, so it's in. Given what seems to happen every time I look up one of the stars of my childhood on the internet, my fear & trembling continued when I came to look up Terry & June. Rest assured that they didn't hold orgies in the dressing room or traffic heroin from Afghanistan - they seem to have nothing bad on them at all. That's a relief. In fact at the time I remember Terry & June mainly for its blandness, which was the main criticism of it at the time:
'The show was generally regarded by critics as the epitome of the bland middle-class sitcom, of the kind which had almost disappeared from the schedules by the new millennium. Despite this, the show attracted large viewing figures, typically attracting significantly larger audiences than the alternative comedy programmes with which it was contemporaneous, some of which frequently lampooned the show. In 2004, it came 73rd in Britain's Best Sitcom, jointly with Happy Ever After.' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_and_June)
Since I didn't like it at the time & it has a reputation for blandness, I've been pleasantly surprised at how good I'm finding it now. It made me laugh. The plot was safe, the characters safe, but I didn't find anything to object to. It also managed to hold my attention, which a lot of TV shows can't manage. I'm interested that it also uses a bland palette of colours, which I talked about in my previous post. Beige, grey, brown. All very non-threatening. In fact it's as bland as the cars that are used in it.
I was going to write about 1970s cars in relation to The Professionals (I can't think how they ever got anywhere because some family friends of ours had a Capri which, while it was very sexy on paper, spent more time off the road than on, with gearbox & all sorts of other trouble). However I discover that the full dreadfulness of the British motor industry at this time is reflected on the Terry & June wikipedia page in the list of cars used (into the eighties, of course):
'In the first series, Terry drives a dark navy blue Mk2 Ford Granada. At the start of the second series, Terry receives a new company car, a metallic Tara Green Austin Princess (a Series 2 1700HL model, with fake registration NMO 49W). This Princess was not used in the following series as the next model Terry uses is an older Series 1 Brooklands Green 2200HL, but still with the fake and now incorrect registration. In the 1985 season Terry keeps his "Wedge" theme with the updated Neutilus Blue Austin Ambassador. In the 1987 season, however, Terry goes back to Ford and drives a metallic red Ford Sierra. In the last season he switches to a briefly seen Mk3 Ford Granada.' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_and_June)
Obviously this is only my personal opinion but I feel it was as if the era of avocado bathroom suites & orange & brown kitchens bequeathed a similar taste to the automotive industry. Loads of sixties cars are stylish. & sexy, if not always sensible. The names above started the seventies with some nice cars - I see a mark 3 Ford Cortina around locally & still think they're stylish - but it all went rapidly downhill. The BL Princess was a particularly dreadful car - eccentric without the stylishness of Citroens, slow, staid, & doomed. In fact the remaining few are literally doomed: despite the fact that there are two enthusiasts' clubs enthusing about what a good classic buy the Princess is, I don't actually see one for sale. When do you see them on the road? Never. The plain fact is that the parts for their suspension are no longer available, so the shrinking pool of operational ones will fizzle out completely. The downward trend was reflected in the fortunes of the car industry, embodied by the obviously-doomed British Leyland:
'British Leyland was an automotive engineering and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd (BLMC), following the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings. It was partly nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland, later BL, in 1978. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 per cent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895.
'Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration.
'Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart), continue to operate independently.' (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Leyland)
This troubled history is a microcosm of the downfall of British industry from the 1970s onwards. Certainly (remember I'm only just down the road from Longbridge) the tales locally are legion of deliberate sabotage in the plant. Undo the panels of an Allegro & you would find a load of junk put in there to make it rattle! You can't have it both ways - expect to be in gainful employment bailed out by the government & also perpetually on strike & sabotaging your own work. The locals who went on record saying the government should have bailed out Rover again were in cloud cuckoo land. The government-owned welfare state of the post-war years remains an expensive dream. Because our elders spent money like water, we're now in a world where such things as home ownership or retirement are becoming unlikely dreams for more people, while the money for state provision is non-existent. Certainly locally the watershed for this was the 1970s - I'll grant you the process has been accelerated by the council's balls up with wages, but the reason Birmingham is gridlocked every rush hour is virtually the whole infrastucture is pre-1970s. Since then only cosmetic sprucing up has happened.
Terry & June (got back onto topic eventually) is placed right at the intersection of the prosperous post-war years & the cold draught that came in the 1980s. As such it is cosy viewing & a welcome diversion at the time, no doubt, from the things that were going on in the world.
------------------

No comments: