The Southern Television soap opera is now on sale on DVD following repeat screenings on Talking Pictures TV.
The classic soap opera Together had – until 2016 – languished unseen in the archives since it first went to air ‘as live’ back in 1980, but thanks to the good people at Talking Pictures TV it was finally put back on air four years ago. The series has most recently been repeated in June this year on the channel and following that outing the show, produced by Southern Television in Southampton, has finally been released on DVD forty years after the first episode aired.
Back in 1980, ITV decided they needed some new daytime drama to spice up their schedules. The Sullivans, an Australian serial following the lives of an ordinary family during the Second World War, was continuing to pull in good ratings for most regions in the 12.30 pm lunchtime slot. ATV’s medical soap General Hospital had been a hit and Granada’s legal drama Crown Court had set the quality bar high.
But something new was needed. Three soap operas were launched that year specifically aimed at the housewives, pensioners, invalids, students and unemployed who were at home during the day. One production, Take the High Road, came courtesy of Scottish Television and followed the folk of the rural highland village of Glendarroch. The show was a hit and would run for twenty-three years.
Take The High Road was launched at the same time as Together. (STV)
ATV’s offering from the Midlands was a saga called For Maddie with Love, which explored the journey of Maddie (Nyree Dawn Porter) who discovered that she was terminally ill and had no hope of recovery. Although the premise might sound rather dour and was billed as a ‘sob opera’ by some unkind critics, the show proved popular due to its well-written scripts and inspirational message that we must make the best of the time we have left. The show ran for two series but obviously had a limited life span given that its lead character had found herself on death row from day one.
The third offering came from Southern Television with their settings for a daytime saga based on the real-life Jubilee Court in Bracknell, however, the storylines followed the very fictional lives of the troubled residents who lived in Rutherford Court, a block of community association flats that had a live-in warden, communal sitting room – with cafeteria service – and community activities including gardening – all based on real offerings at the Bracknell flats.
A scene from the first-ever episode of Together, Southern Television for ITV 1980.
Viewers were hooked to Together as a divorcee began hitting the bottle and teetered on the brink of a nervous breakdown. A recently bereaved pensioner wasn’t sure how to face life alone, and a pair of newlyweds found their happy union on the skids with the prospect of an abortion on the cards. Meanwhile, the teenage Tricia (played by future Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene) was having problems with her love life, and the residents were up in arms about two homosexuals sharing a flat together.
Running for 53 episodes across two series, the programme was produced by Bryan Izzard who had worked on legendary sitcoms such as On the Buses, and was written by an impressive team including Alfred Shaughnessy and Rosemary Anne Sisson of Upstairs, Downstairs fame. A young Phil Redmond who went on to create Brookside and Hollyoaks cut his teeth writing for the show.
While the majority of episodes have been retained by the Southern Television archive two are currently missing – one from each series – with episode 22 missing from the first run and episode 10 missing from the second outing.
The final moments from the very last episode, Together airing live from Southern on ITV in 1981.
Based on an original feature By Darren Gray. Images: Renown Productions/Southern Television.