Brookside Brookside

James from London

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Oh and it’s nice to see Nick’s relationship with Heather blossoming at last. It looks like all that studying he did as a younger man is starting to pay off.

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Mel O'Drama

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This period of Brookside, specifically what’s going on with the Grants, really reminds me of Knots Season 4. While the characters are still recognisably the same people we’ve been watching for the past few years, it’s like the heat’s been turned up under each of them

Oh yes. Yes. Now you've said that I can't not see it.


an enormous part of the pleasure of this era is seeing the writers and actors rise to the challenge of making these soapy contrivances not only plausible but compelling (again, just like Knots Season 4).

Absolutely. Between some of the Corkhills' material and some terrific moments from all concerned in the Grants', there's a feeling of grit which, as you observed, makes even the more conventionally soapy contrivances feel more meaningful and substantial.




Bobby’s conflict with George Williams is the first indication that his brand of socialism is gradually falling out of step with the times.
Meanwhile, Sheila involving herself in Sally Dinsdale’s and Matty’s marriages is the first time she’s really got worked up about anything that doesn’t directly affect her own family.

Yes, and both of these facts were acknowledged within the series. In particular, Sheila not putting her family first has created an incredible tension at Number Five, with Bobby furious about it. His rants at both George and Sheila made clear his loyalties were to "his" people (his immediate family, and the union members in his city), and so should theirs be.



It feels like Brookie’s political pencils have been re-sharpened recently

It certainly does, and I've been wondering why at this time in particular. I had wondered if there was a general election or something, but on looking the next one wouldn't be until the following year. But then again, the Eighties were a particularly volatile time politically and I'm sure there was plenty of material to take aim at.




How combustible might a Barry Grant/Katrin Cartlidge-era Lucy coupling have been!

This crossed my mind too. Well, kind of. I kept wondering how different it would be if Katrin had been portraying Lucy at this point, and trying to work out if I would buy it. She was always the rebel, so I'm sure it could have happened back when she was still around. Perhaps that would have been viewed as too conventional for early Eighties Brookie, though.




Whereas Petra’s (admittedly funny) scene was part of something darker and ultimately tragic, Lucy’s post-James behaviour has mostly just been a laugh.

I don't know if it was the memory of that Petra scene informing this one, but I actually felt quite concerned for Lucy's wellbeing when Sandra found her in the car. It was a nice moment for both. I (sometimes) like that Sandra has a short fuse, but I also think Sheila Grier shows empathy really well given the right screen partner, and this was one of them for me.


Even though the whole Lucy 2 story has been really satisfying and well-executed, I could never quite shake the feeling that Lucy 2’s personality and behaviour (while never less than plausible) was moulded to fit the storyline, whereas Lucy 1’s stories grew organically out of the character.

That's a fair observation, I'd say. I did appreciate that Maggie Saunders went ugly as far as Lucy's been concerned. I don't know if it was me adjusting to the different actress, but it felt like she took a while to get that edge to her. But she delivered in the end (a bit like Emma Samms in Dynasty's last season or so). And I never stopped thinking to myself that she did look very believable as Doreen Sloane's daughter (whereas Katrin's Lucy looked more like she'd inherited more of Paul's features).




Mrs James sees her as a stupid, deluded little girl — which essentially is what she is. This is in contrast to a similar storyline in EastEnders circa 1989-90 where Michelle Fowler likewise gets involved with a married man. As with Lucy, we aren’t introduced to the wronged wife until late in the story and again the marital set-up is very different to what the mistress has been led to believe by her man. When Michelle’s bloke’s wife finds out about her husband’s bit on the side, she casually concludes that Michelle must be a typical hairdressing airhead from the East End. Insofar as Michelle is a hairdresser at the time (and an East Ender), she’s right, but what she doesn’t know and the viewer at home does is that Michelle is about as far from an airhead as you can get. With Lucy, there isn’t that extra layer of complexity; she is exactly what James’s wife thinks she is. If she’d said it about Katrin Cartildige’s Lucy, however, it wouldn’t have been the full story.

This is really interesting. Weirdly, I don't remember that storyline with Michelle, even though I'm fairly sure I'd still have been watching EastEnders at that point.




Michelle’s most famous illicit liaison was, of course, as a barely legal teenager with a much older man in a position of authority over her (technically, Den was her employer at the time as she was shampooing the Vic carpets to earn some extra pocket money). And the audience didn’t find about their fling until after the fact. Same situation for Tracey and Mr Montague, of course, and both situations came to light at around the same time: late ’85-ish.

And I hadn't made that link between the two.



Fascinatingly, in both cases, the man’s predatory behaviour is pretty much glossed over in a way that would be inconceivable today.
Who knows — maybe in a decade or two, there’ll be yet a further layer of nuance to add.

Yes. It would be handled very differently indeed today. Hasn't Corrie done similar storylines more recently? I'd imagine the tone of those was different.

I'm sure young viewers watching this for the first time today would be horrified by the way this played out (what, no Old Testament retribution?). It's bizarre to think of mid-Eighties Brookie as a relic of the past. I wonder what that says about those of us who were watching it back then.




Paula's habit of delivering self-deprecating wisecracks while looking like a million dollars was one of the many things that made her so genuinely beguiling.

I feel I missed out by not being cool enough to watch The Tube back in the day.




What a joy it is to be able scroll through Pat’n’Sand’s scenes so cleanly and quickly. None of the over-fast-forwarding-then-having-to -rewind-again like in the old VCR days. Thank-you again, STV Player.

Glad you're enjoying the benefits of streaming.





Oh and it’s nice to see Nick’s relationship with Heather blossoming at last. It looks like all that studying he did as a younger man is starting to pay off.

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Wonderful stuff.
 

James from London

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Susan Twist - later Rosie Banks in dire Nineties Brookie - is the bookie’s assistant who gets sacked for trying to help and is now doing all she can to assist Harry. It’s a small role, but she fits in well to this era. I find Susan endearing as she reminds me very much of the mum of a schoolfriend when I was young.
I've been meaning to say that Rosie Banks/Bookie's Assistant has been causing quite a stir in the Whoniverse over the past couple of months, which I don't think anyone had on their bingo card for 2024.

 
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Mel O'Drama

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I've been meaning to say that Rosie Banks/Bookie's Assistant has been causing quite a stir in the Whoniverse over the past couple of months, which I don't think anyone had on their bingo card for 2024.

Ooh - interesting. And very strange to read her called an "elderly English actress" since I think of her as eternally the age she was in Brookie.

Funny that the same actress cropping up in different roles has prompted such speculation. And perhaps warranted speculation, since I'm sure anyone casting roles today would expect the audience to pick up on things like this, so are less likely to follow the "same actor in numerous roles in the same series" tradition.

Who fans seem far more dedicated to this kind of thing, otherwise we'd have a lot more wildly speculative threads here trying to create a canonical explanation for some of those recurring faces in soaps over the years.

Anyway - lovely that Susan is having a moment.
 

James from London

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Who fans seem far more dedicated to this kind of thing, otherwise we'd have a lot more wildly speculative threads here trying to create a canonical explanation for some of those recurring faces in soaps over the years.

In fact, if one were conspiracy-minded enough, one could probably draw a connection between one Brookie-Twist character working in a bookies and the other winning the pools. (At least, I think it was the pools they won.)
Anyway - lovely that Susan is having a moment.
Yes it really is.
 
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