Howards' Way - dubbed "Dallas on Sea" thanks to its glamorous characters, their lives, loves and traumas - was the BBC's answer to the American super-soaps of the 1980s. The drama series revolved around a wealthy sailing community on the south coast of England, featuring plenty of action on their luxury yachts.
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The stars' high-powered lifestyles in the fictional town of Tarrant had plenty of stylish female characters, whose big hair - and even bigger shoulder pads - rivalled their Dallas and Dynasty counterparts… except it was filmed on the Solent and the River Hamble, rather than in Texas! They became unofficially known as the "gin and Jag" set and were perfect characters for a Sunday night primetime television drama, with their opulent lifestyles echoing the wealth and glamour of the era.
The show followed the fortunes of Tom Howard (Maurice Colbourne) who invested his redundancy money into the Mermaid Boatyard to fulfil his dream of becoming a yacht designer. The boatyard was run by gruff Jack Rolfe (Glyn Owen) and his daughter Avril.
Tom soon found himself at odds with hard-drinking traditionalist Jack but discovered cool-headed businesswoman Avril (Susan Gilmore) was the driving force behind the boatyard. Meanwhile, Tom's wife Jan (Jan Harvey) wasn't impressed by her husband's risky venture and she increasingly began to pursue her own interests. She entered the world of high fashion with brash "medallion man" powerboat entrepreneur Ken Masters (Stephen Yardley).
The characters' lives intertwined to produce a series of plots featuring melodramatic storylines, family dramas, intrigue, romance and business-related plots of corporate secrets and power struggles.
Although the interior scenes were shot at BBC's Pebble Mill Studios, the Mermaid Boatyard was a real boatyard - the historic Elephant Boatyard, dating from the 1780s, was used to construct Lord Nelson's flagship before the battle of Copenhagen.
One of the yachts used in Howards' Way made the brand a household name - boat builder Sadler's unusually-styled Barracuda was an innovative yacht featuring technical advances including a lifting keel, shifting water ballast and twin rudders. It was way ahead of its time and after it featured on Howards' Way, it became one of the most famous cruising yachts in history, despite the fact only 19 were ever built.
In 2009, another yacht made famous by Howards' Way, the Flying Fish sank after a collision in a race. The craft, which featured in the opening credits of the drama series, was a familiar racing yacht long after the programme ended but sadly, she sank at the entrance to the River Hamble after the accident.
The four crew members, including yacht owners Rupert and Kathy Smalley, managed to escape the sinking Laser 28 yacht. She was later salvaged from the bottom of the river and re-floated following a complex lifting procedure using giant airbags and dive tanks to make her seaworthy again.
Mr Smalley had purchased the boat in 2003 and had competed in 45 events in 2008 prior to the collision the following year. After the salvage operation, he told reporters that "anyone of a certain age group" would remember Howards' Way and the yacht's weekly appearance, reassuring fans, "The old girl from Howards' Way will race again.”
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