Gems (ITV, 1985-1988)
It’s time to review another soap. Of course I have enjoyed lots of the long-running soaps, but I have always been more interested in the B-list soaps, the ones that never gained a huge following, and not many people took to the characters, however good they were. My favourite soap is Night And Day, but that ended over 15 years ago. I do wish that it was still going on ITV and established in the schedule alongside Coronation Street. No, actually, it should be on ITV instead of Coronation Street, not that I’m still bitter.
This is a soap from the 80s that I don’t remember watching at the time, but I decided that it was worthy of a review as it was another short-runner, although only one of the 121 episodes that were made over 3½ years is on YouTube in full. Gems (a Thames Production for ITV) was a daytime soap that launched in 1985 and was usually shown two or three times a week around 3pm that was set in the world of fashion.
Now fashion is another one of those things I don’t know that much about, will this show educate me about what it’s like to work in this business? Gems was created by Tessa Diamond and set at a fictional fashion company in Covent Garden in London, and as you can imagine, it was all go. The two main characters were the Stone brothers, Alan and Stephen. And well, who would believe it, they were rather different, and were always having arguments.
It seems that a typical cliffhanger on Gems would be whether a woman’s shirt would be ready in time. And there were plenty of other things going on, like people working on their designs, photoshoots, complicated love lives, and so on. Like with all soaps, I imagine that some people somewhere became fans of this show, but by the end, most of them had probably lost the thread, ha-ha.
Having a look at the cast list of Gems, there aren’t too many names that are familiar, and I don’t think many of them went on to further things on TV including other soaps. However, in the third and final series in 1988, one of the writers who also appeared in some episodes was Tony Slattery, when he was still trying to get his career going, although he wouldn’t exactly be struggling for work five years later.
Gems was one of the few British-made soaps that was shown in a daytime slot during this era, but it seemed to get lost among the vast range of Australian soaps, even the likes of Sons And Daughters seem to have endured more, and it soon left the schedule to be replaced by another series of Take The High Road. Only one episode of Gems has been released on DVD, and I doubt that more will be forthcoming, but it was another interesting look into mid-80s TV.