(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2012.)
Peter's affair with Carla's had wide-ranging repercussions. Leanne fled to stay with Our Toyah in That London. Simon turned into an emotional wreck. Ken furrowed his brow and chewed the end of his glasses. And finally, nearly a year on, Stella's started getting interesting.
Up until now she's been too good to be true. Floating behind the bar with a beatific smile, she's never failed to provide a wise word, a comforting hug or a cup of tea in the back for Weatherfield's emotional wrecks. Stella's air of saintliness has, let's be honest, become annoying.
Peter's betrayal of Leanne has ripped back the mask, however. Suddenly she's screaming at people in the street, threatening to bar all and sundry, and loudly proclaiming that she wouldn't be surprised if Carla had lied about the rape all along. She's become a bitch. And much better for it.
This is all baggage that Michelle Collins needed to drop to be Stella. Remember Jerry Morton? Or, as he was known by pretty much everyone who watched the show, Sinbad? Michael Starke entered the show playing basically the same character he'd played on Brookside, meaning we never really believed in Jerry.
By making Stella good, decent and honest, and giving her a Manchester accent (which is more than Jerry got), the writers and producers have tried to draw a line under Cindy. She might have the same, surprisingly well-preserved face, they've said, but Stella is completely different to that woman who ran a hat stall and made cow eyes at David Wickes.
Trouble is, good is dull. Nice is boring. You have to be a bit quirky for it to work (see Roy and Hayley). If you're just a normal person who's very pleasant to everyone and cares a lot you're - well, you're Emily Bishop in a push-up bra. The revelation that Stella has a nasty streak underneath has made me like her a whole lot more, and I'm guessing the unpleasantness will continue in forthcoming storylines. The landlady at the Rovers needs to wield a rod of iron, even if you wrap it in a lace doily first like Annie Walker. She doesn't need to be spitting bile across the hand pumps, but it's good to see that underneath the immaculate bob there's some fire and passion. That's a character I can get behind.
Come on Stella. Unleash your inner cow. We all want to see it.
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