diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 25, 2024

50 posts I won't be writing

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• What's cheaper, Uber or a taxi?
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• The evolution of TV screen dimensions
• Susan Stranks - a typical Sagittarius
• London's lost swimming pools
• Where cats go during the day
• 10 guttering tips

...except that's actually 51...
...so I will be writing one of them...

Retracing Terry and June

The BBC sitcom Happy Ever After evolved into Terry and June in 1979, for copyright reasons. Both featured Terry Scott and June Whitfield as the quintessential suburban couple, engaged each week in wafer-thin inoffensive plots of minimal jocularity. Nevertheless Terry and June garnered impressive audience figures and ran for nine series until being quietly retired in 1987. In the show they lived in Purley, at the fictional 26 Elmtree Avenue, but in real life the exterior shots were filmed in Cheam. In later series the opening credits featured a collapsing sun lounger on the patio, which never got funny despite week-on-week repeats. But the really memorable opening sequence was in the first couple of series when the two of them walked round Croydon town centre 'hilariously' missing one another [video]. Let's see how retraceable that is.

The credits open with Terry arriving at British Rail's East Croydon station, which back then was the original building, not the steel and glass framed box which replaced it in 1992. Meanwhile June is outside the Fairfield Hall, again at least two rebrands away from the current building. Both are checking their watches. As the camera pans back from Terry we see Richard Seifert's NLA Tower, known colloquially as the Threepenny Bit Building, a unique addition to Croydon's high rise skyline in 1970. And as June steps away we see Nestle's towering HQ, a 1964 bulwark now mid-demolishment and pencilled in for flats. The first fifteen seconds are truly showcasing Croydon as a modern bustling hub, Seventies style, and Purley alas doesn't get a look in.

Then we're off to the Whitgift Centre, a shopping mall almost ten years old at time of filming and still open to the elements (its roof wouldn't arrive until after the sitcom ended). June is riding up the escalator looking one way while Terry strides oblivious along the balcony behind - a set piece you can still recreate today, although with less direct sunlight. The scene jumps to June in a park of some kind... my money's on Queen's Gardens... then back to the Whitgift for more comic misdirection. Suddenly June is crossing a street, most likely somewhere she'd get knocked down by a tram today, and finally Terry makes his way along a row of three red telephone boxes before finding June in the last one. It'd never happen today in an age of mobile phones, but how lovely to have this blurry video postcard of postmodern Croydon immortalised in sitcom canon forever.

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