Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Howard's Way

All aboard the Skylark!

Giles appears to be casting aspersions on my choice of DVD, which were seen behind my lead mountain in the post below!

Well, I love Howards Way! It's so eighties! And cheap looking. And always full of scenes of shivering actors trying to pretend the weather is nice!

For readers who were lucky enough to escape this "aspirational" BBC series from the eighties it was all about the boating set in Hampshire in the south of England. The dreadfully wooden Tom was made redundant from his job as an aircraft designer and set up as a boat designer instead working with old-fashioned, drunken, dinosaur boatbuilder Jack and bringing in all sorts of trendy working techniques and practices (A Thatcherite allegory, perhaps) to the disgruntled but forelock tugging local workmen at the Mermaid Boatyard. Tom designed an ugly new racing yacht, the Barracuda, and a local boatbuilder actually put them into production in real life. My father in law sailed one once and said it handled like a brick.

The slimy Ken Masters: look no shirt!

Tom was soon cosying up to Jack's daughter Avril and Tom's wife was soon having an affair with Ken Masters, possibly the slimiest creature ever to grace a BBC series (you could tell he was no good as he liked powerboats instead of sailing yachts and wore jumpers with no shirt on underneath).

Wooden Tom, dreary Lynne and stupid Leo on a nasty plastic boat.

Also involved was Tom's moronic son Leo and daughter the vacuous but outrageously curvy Lynne. Also on the scene was dreary Abby, daughter of local nympho Polly (very much the best thing in the show) and bi-sexual Gerald. Also introduced in series one was oily big businessman Charles Frere who had a Bentley (but the cheap one with the mesh radiator grill not the proper one with the vertical struts). My (then) future father in law, who had a Mulsanne Turbo at the time, was particularly rude about that! Charles was played by Tony Anholt who was always acting at Windsor Theatre whenever I was dragged there by my mother. The actors playing Charles and Lynne ended up married (although not for long).

My father in law kept one of his boats in the Hamble right next to the Elephant Boatyard which was the fictional Mermaid Boatyard in the show. We used to eat in the same pub as in the series!

So Howard's Way is part of my new nostalgia kick caused by being in my fiftieth year! I am getting more nostalgic for things that remind me of when my life was much less complicated: no demanding children, no school fees, no wife getting me to spend £1,000 on three lights, no having to tell stupid foreign government ministers how to sort out their infrastructure and no commuting. Instead a nice comfortable life at home, just starting in the City and spending most of my salary on classed growth claret and weekends with the engagingly voracious and curvy V (who confirmed everything my father had told me about convent girls).

Those were the days. I think I'll go and watch an episode of Bergerac now...


  1. Well spotted Giles!! these dramas are very nostalgic agreed! Bergerac was brill, Howards Way was cringeworthy (was usually banned from living room when it was on and Dallas!)there was one called the brothers ...etc etc. on a world war one theme has the Beeb ever re released 'Wings' from the 70's on WW1 aviation? A schoolfriend had the actual Eindecker model used in the series at home (His Mum & Sis were actresses & acquired it)

  2. I have to confess to a nostalgia hit for "Bergerac". It's still, afaik, the only tv show which you can watch whilst drinking a wine of the same name...

    Does anyone remember "Triangle"? I recall switching it on expecting a racy drama about planes and ships disappearing off Bermuda and finding a dreary non-drama about a cruise liner that deserved to go the way of the Titanic.

  3. Giles - cruise liner?? I seem to remember it was a car ferry... and Kate O'mara was the token glamour... :o)

    Legatus - hold your head high - I watched every episode of Howards Way - and what's more I read the tie-in novels as well... a guy has to get his boating where he can when he's not a wage earner.....!

    (PS. As a youth I always thought Tracey Childs was a bit of a babe - wooden activng maybe, but a pleasant sight nontheless!)

  4. Triangle was dreadful (even worse than Howard's Way) but Bergerac was classy. The number of British actors who got early parts in it (Ray Winstone, Anthony Head, Greta Scacchi, Joanne Whalley, Lynda La Plante (whilst she was still an actress)was amazing and the number of old character actors (Norman Wisdom, Jack Watling, Dandy Nicholls)was equally amazing.

  5. Steve is quite right - Triangle was set on a North Sea ferry and recently came up on one of those worst TV list programmes including the scene where Kate O'Mara was 'sunbathing' in her bikini in a force 10 gale. Glamorous or what.

    My recommendation from that era was Shoestring, especially for the theme tune.

    I live in Windsor and we quite frequently go to the theatre and at almost every play you get a nudge and a comment about one of the actors along the lines of 'I thought he/she was dead'. The theatre regularly puts on plays such as Dads Army and the forthcoming Allo Allo but I take my girls along to these as they are vetoed by Lindsay. Having said that the theatre was heaving at the Dads Army show. I presume that says a lot about the sense of humour in these parts.


  6. Tracey Childs would certainly have made an outstanding figurehead but I was always keener on the gorgeous Francesca Gonshaw who appeared in 12 episodes following her stint on Allo Allo. I think I am right in thinking that she did an "artistic" photoshoot for one of the UK mens magazines (when UK men's magazines had proper content and not pages of poncy fashion advice).

    The actor who played Leo (Edward Highmore) hailed, I seem to recall, from Walton-on-Thames (he was born in Kingston)and is the father of Freddie Highmore who was so good as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory