Terry & June is one of those programmes I wouldn’t have dreamed of watching when it was first broadcast and until now I’d never seen a single episode. The advent of Freeview has opened up a new/old world of programmes on channels like Yesterday, ITV3 and Drama. Some I’ve been thrilled to revisit, like When the Boat Comes In with JAMES BOLAM. Others were quite new to me, e.g. Upstairs, Downstairs.
When I saw that Drama was showing Terry and June from the very first episode, I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. I’m now addicted and record it every day to watch later. I gave myself 10/10 for deducing entirely from internal evidence the date of the first prog: 1979. What on earth do I find to enjoy in it? Terry and June might as well have lived on another planet compared with the life I led at the time.
Location. It’s set near the area where I grew up. The first episodes opened with shots of East Croydon station and the Fairfield Halls. It’s all changed completely now. Yesterday there was mention of Thornton Heath Pond; a mistake by the writers, since the pond had already been filled in by then. My great grandfather’s ashes were scattered in it. He was the first Superintendent of the Thornton Heath Baths. This was one of the few interesting buildings in Thornton Heath and after serving the community for over a hundred years, has now been pulled down and replaced by a tacky leisure centre which will probably have to be rebuilt in twenty years’ time.
Lifestyle. Almost all the décor in their house is brown or beige. It’s awful. When they first move into their new home in Purley, there’s a wonderful old dresser in the kitchen. June says it must go, as she wants everything new. Many of their clothes are beige, too; I’ve never seen anyone wearing outfits like them. I love the way the banisters wobble if they forget not to hold on too hard when coming downstairs. Terry’s pride and joy is his company car, an Austin Princess rather like this one.
There are only four plots.
1. Trouble with the neighbours.
2. Office politics and trying to keep on the right side of the boss. This is slightly confusing as the irascible boss is played by the same actor who was the boss in The Good Life.
3. Terry’s dodgy nephew Alan turns up and gets them into a scrape.
4. Terry takes up a new hobby with hilarious (not) results.
Note that most of the plots originate with Terry. June is cleverer, more knowledgeable and has much more common sense yet she’s always the one coping with an accident- prone husband rather than having a life of her own.
Good acting. I hadn’t realised what a good actor Terry Scott was. June Whitfield is wonderful, of course. They both do their best with sometimes very poor scripts. There seem to have been a lot of different writers.
Ordinariness. I think there’s room on TV for something a little dull, about people who lead uninteresting lives. I suppose Not Going Out comes nearest to this today. There’s rather a comfort viewing hole in today’s schedules. It’s often pointed out that today, older people spend the most time watching television, yet programmes are made by the young. According to a current advertisement, 95% of the most-watched programmes are on Freeview. Probably not BBC1 or BBC2, then. I wonder why?
Terry and June is already beginning to pall and I don’t expect I’ll persevere with it much longer. What would you expect from someone who can hardly wait for the next series of Sherlock? But it’s an eye opener into what viewers like and no longer get.