Back in Time for the Corner Shop (fourth episode) – BBC 2


On into the 1970s, with products such as Angel Delight, Nimble bread, Opal Fruits, Pot Noodles and Curly Wurlies on the shelves. I can still remember the adverts for those, from the early ’80s, which says something about the power of advertising! The programme also mentioned the importance of local newspapers – in this case, the Sheffield Star, but here’s a shout out to our own Manchester Evening News for trying to keep spirits up by emphasising reporting on community help groups and acts of kindness at this difficult time. People handing out flyers whilst dressed in chicken costumes were definitely a thing for a long time, but I certainly don’t remember corner shops having snooker tables – I think the BBC got a bit carried away there.

Kids going to the shops to spend their pocket money on treats – now, that was more realistic, and those were the days!  We used to get told off for reading the comics in the newsagent’s before deciding which one to pick, and then we’d go in the food shop and buy KP Choc Dips.  Sorry, getting ahead of the programme there – that wasn’t until the ’80s.  I’m excited about the ’80s episode coming tomorrow!

This episode showed the ups and downs of the 1970s, from prosperity and boy band memorabilia to the three day week and rampant inflation, but the message in every episode’s been just how hard people running corner shops work. They do a sterling job, despite decades of competition from supermarkets. Three cheers for corner shops!

There was plenty of social and economic change, in this episode.  Shoplifting, made easier by everything going self service was the least welcome aspect of this, but, on a more positive note, chiller cabinets, freezers, cars, and cash and carries also featured.  In terms of cash and carries, I remember Makro being very big round here, and there was also one called Orbro which I think might just have been a local one.  The introduction of decimalisation did get a mention, but the introduction of VAT (in 1973) was evidently deemed too boring!   We also got football, which is hardly specific to the 1970s, but, hey, is always worth a mention.  (I’m really missing football and tennis.)

Another point made was the growing importance of the role of British Asians in running corner shops.  I can remember people referring to shops which opened all hours as “Pakistani shops” – meant in the most positive of ways, because the shops which were always open when you urgently needed something and everywhere else was closed were usually run by local British Pakistani families.  A wider range of foodstuffs from different countries and cultures was available too.

And the ’70s décor!  Talk about “the decade that taste forgot”.   The yellow and brown patterned wallpaper, very 1970s, brought back fond memories, though, because my grandma had something similar in the kitchen in her flat well into the 1980s!   So, this was a bit of a nostalgia-fest, but the 1980s was my decade, so I think I’ll be doing a lot of OMG-ing and reminiscing next week.

I’m really enjoying this series, so thank you, BBC 2.  At the moment, a bit of nostalgia is very welcome.  Even the three day week didn’t shut all the cafes and pubs.  But this too will pass ….




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