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


Ah yes, back to the 1980s!  Big hair, Choc Dips, Ice Magic, video rentals, top trump cards (who remembers horror cards?), Lilt, the greatest music in the entire history of the universe, and learning everything you needed to know about life (or so you thought) from the Just Seventeen problem page.  Just Seventeen and Smash Hits both came out on a Wednesday.  It was the best day of the school week!

The programme heralded the start of the ’80s with Joy Division and the start of the ’90s with the Stone Roses: it worked for me, but I’m not sure what the good people of Sheffield made of it.  They did mention the Human League, though, and they even got Martin from ABC in.  I hope we all point our fingers whenever we hear the “You did, you did” line in “Poison Arrow”?

Hard times for corner shops, though, especially in the 1990s after changes to the Sunday trading laws meant that large shops could now also open on Sundays, although they were given a boost by the launch of the National Lottery.  And, because of the competition, they largely moved away from selling fresh stuff, turning instead to pre-packed sandwiches and other food to buy and eat on the go.  Not very healthy, but needs must.

This was an amazing nostalgia fest, though, especially the ’80s stuff.   The way things are going, pre-recorded episodes of soaps could run out and the TV channels may have to turn to repeats, so we may be doing Back in Time with Alf Roberts’ Corner Shop before long!!

As they said, by the ’80s, supermarkets were king and corner shops were used mainly for top-up shopping, and also for various other things.  Phonecards were mentioned.  So was Royal Wedding memorabilia – I’m not sure it was tactful to spend so much time talking about Charles and Diana’s wedding, the way it turned out, but it was such a big thing that I remember the day very clearly, even though I was only 6 at the time.  I actually remember it more clearly that I remember Live Aid, which was also mentioned.

There was so much nostalgia here.  The thrill of getting a sandwich toaster.  ZX Spectrums – although we never had one of those, because we had an Acorn Electron computer instead.  Croaker and Killer Gorilla!  I’d never heard of the Star Walk, I have to admit, but that was obviously local to Sheffield, and a really big thing there – but I do remember when Meadowhall opened, and making a special expedition from Manchester to Sheffield to go round it!

And video rentals.  The parents of my best friend in the 1980s owned two video rental shops, so we got to see all the videos first!  It was such a big thing at the time.  There were things I’d half-forgotten, too, like 5-4-3-2-1 bars.  The parents immediately started singing the jingle from the adverts.  The kids looked blank!

I was rather sorry when it moved on to the 1990s!   My decade was definitely the ’80s.  It was sad to hear how many corner shops closed in the ’90s, the new Sunday Trading Act proving to be the final nail in their coffins, but there are still plenty of them around, and both they and the supermarkets are doing a sterling job in these troubled times.  If you’re reading this, stay safe and well, stay strong, and thanks for reading.  And maybe put a bit of ’80s music on!



2 thoughts on “Back in Time for the Corner Shop (fifth episode) – BBC 2

  1. Ah, nostalgia! Whatever happened to video rentals? It’s just not the same having everything on demand as having to plan your movie watching ahead, plus the video rental places always sold popcorn, which you do NOT get with a Netflix subscription… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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