Rob Atkinson: Go back in time to see Stan and Hilda

Hilda and Stan Ogden in Coronation Street
Hilda and Stan Ogden in Coronation Street
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Come election time, you always get these daft arguments arising out of something someone or other originally said, in the belief that it was a sure-fire vote-winner.

It’s no different this time – one loudmouth bellows “You’ll take us back to the seventies!” to be countered by another loudmouth saying that the first lot will take us back to the 1930s. It’s not very productive and, normally, it vexes me.

However, given that the motif is a sort of time-travel one, this particular theme made me think.

If it were up to me where I’d like to spend a relaxing fortnight, there’s no doubt at all that I’d plump for a trip back to my childhood days when things were simpler, basic necessities like sweets and comics were cheaper, and my biggest worry was whether I’d be allowed to stay up late enough to watch UFO.

Of course, all of that is probably my middle-aged desire to escape back to a time of perfect health, 20-20 vision and music that had more going for it than just a repetitive thump, thump, thump beat. When I look back to the seventies, it’s not the industrial disputes I remember – it’s how much more accessible my favourite entertainments were.

There was no pay-per-view, so if I wanted to watch the sport on the telly, it was free (I let my dad worry about TV licences and such). If I wanted to go to Elland Road and watch United, I had to count my pennies from one week to the next, but it was do-able. Now, the need for a small mortgage per match ticket puts me right off.

Who wants to pay the price of a decent meal out for two, just to see some spoilt, overpaid footballers stroll to defeat against some other dreadfully average outfit?

Even Coronation Street was better in the seventies. It was a kitchen sink drama revolving around domestic hoo-hahs and the gossip of old ladies.

They were real characters, portrayed by believable actors who looked as though they’d lived a bit.

Now, it’s all kidnaps and folk assaulting each other, and the people look like refugees from Hollyoaks, all easy on the eye and not over-blessed with acting ability. On a holiday back to the seventies, I’d be able to laugh at Stan and Hilda again, or imagine what it’d be like to have Ena Sharples as a gran.

I can still remember the astonishing novelty of my first new decade, as 1969 clicked over into what we thought would be a brave new world. Now it’s the olden days – every week, another little chunk of my childhood and teenage years seems to be taken from me.

Just this last week a member of the classic 70s Blue Peter line-up passed away when John Noakes left us at the age of 83.

Blue Peter was required viewing for any school-age kid in the seventies. Who presents it now? Don’t ask me. I know they’ve messed about with that familiar signature tune though.

That annoys me as well. Why change something that works so well?

Many of the famous theme tunes I can remember from forty years back have been needlessly ‘updated’ – or, to use a more appropriate word, ruined. They didn’t consult us about changing the tune to News at Ten, or Tomorrow’s World, or Top of the Pops. Nor, indeed, about ditching these fine institutions.

So, next time someone says to me that we’re being taken back to the seventies, I might just put my hand up and volunteer to jump aboard.

Take it from one who grew up there, it really was not that bad.

George and Amal Clooney. PIC: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

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