Friday, 26 June 2009

Uttered In The '80s Part 7: "P*SS OFF!"

Ah, the 1980s! The man from Del Monte, he say Yes, Frankie, they say Relax, the Scotch Skeleton he say Re-Record, Not Fade Away (more here), and the man from Beckindale's local quarry, he say PISS OFF!

Harry Mowlam (Godfrey James) blasted into Emmerdale Farm in late 1983, the early months of Richard Handford's stint as producer. And he was trouble. In fact, you can give that "trouble" a capital 'T'.

Harry was rude to Dolly, dumped a load of stones in the Emmerdale farmyard, and mistreated his dog.

Richard Handford was giving the show a shake-up, and there is no doubt that this shake-up was influenced by Brookside's debut. Emmerdale Farm had never been as cosy as some believe (indeed, in 1981, Pat Merrick had been hit and bruised by her soon-to-be-ex-husband Tom) but under Richard Handford's leadership in 1983 the pace gathered speed, scenes grew shorter, and a real baddie arrived...

The breath-taking Harry Mowlam. The awe-inspiring Harry Mowlam. The terror-inducing Harry Mowlam.

And, via Harry, Emmerdale Farm followed in Brookside's 1982 footsteps by letting fly some verbal naughtiness in 1983.

Brookside supremo, Phil Redmond, had wanted down-to-earth language to feature in the new serial from its beginning in November 1982. He'd wanted a few choice words and phrases sprinkled into the dialogue. Like real life. But the audience hated the swearing, and Redmond dropped it, puzzled over the fact that, whilst people swore in their everyday lives, and knew they did, they seemed to have a deep-seated need to be offended by hearing it on the telly.

In late 1983, as Beckindale's thoughts turned towards Christmas, Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne) witnessed Harry Mowlam abusing his dog and stole it away from him.

Harry was furious, and when young Mike (Martin Barrass) made a joke about the sorry state of the dog's kennel, Harry asked him what he knew about the dog?

"Nothing, it's just a joke, that's all," said Mike.

"Piss off!" said Harry.

In homes across the land, mouths dropped open... knives and forks clattered onto plates from suddenly nerveless fingers...

And then a howl of "WELL REALLY, HOW DISGUSTING!" (probably followed by torrents of outraged expletives), went up from houses all round the United Kingdom.

Toke Townley (Sam Pearson) once recounted a conversation with an Emmerdale Farm fan who told him that the show, for her, did not represent how life was, but how it should be.

It seems that, by 1983, this was changing...

Harry Mowlam didn't stick around that long initially... but he later returned...

Read all about him here.

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