Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Many Faces of Coronation Street

(This post was originally posted by Sunny Jim on the Coronation Street Blog in May 2012.)

Let's look back at some of the recastings that have taken place on Coronation Street over the years.

The earliest I remember is the tragic case of Blanche Hunt. The role was originally played by Patricia Cutts but she had only appeared in 2 episodes in September 1974 when she was found dead in her flat in London, having taken a massive dose of barbiturates and a considerable amount of alcohol. Blanche had been written into future scripts and the producers thought that she might turn into a long running character so instead of cutting the character they turned to their 2nd choice for the part. Maggie Jones took over and made the role her own over a period of over 35 years.

As far as I know Blanche Hunt has been the only character recast in such sad circumstances. At the opposite end of the scale, Gordon Clegg was recast due to the great success of the original actor, Bill Kenwright, in other projects. Although he was only a permanent cast member for a couple of years, he would return occasionally to see his mother, Betty. Away from Coronation Street Bill's career as a theatre impressario and chairman of Everton FC made it difficult for him to return at the whim of Corrie storylines and so in 2002 the role was taken by Geoffrey Leesley, who had played John Harrison in Brookside, for his occasional appearances. When Betty Williams sadly died, Bill Kenwright reprised his role as our Gordon and returned to sort out her effects.

Recasting has occured most often with child actors. As they generally don't take much of an active part in filming for a few years after their birth, the role can be recast several times without any major problem. The part of Peter Barlow has been played by 7 different actors over the years as his character has drfited in and out of the story but now that the character has reached maturity it would seem strange to see him played by anyone other than Chris Gascoyne.

Occasionally a child actor will last a remarkably long time. Nicky Tilsley was played by Warren Jackson from his birth right up to the age of 15. Having started as a babe in arms it couldn't be predicted at that early stage whether he'd actually be able to act as he grew older and the role demanded more than sitting in the background playing with his toys and the occasional response to one of his onscreen family. As he reached his teens, a lot more was expected of him and to be honest he never really made the grade when it came to acting and it was decided to recast the role. He was replaced by Adam Rickitt, who can at best be described as a prettier piece of wood than his predecessor. After a couple of years the lure of the pop charts and parliament deprived us of Adam Rickitt's acting, though he returned briefly to take part in Coronation Street's first gay kiss. Nick Tilsley returned with yet another face in 2009, played by Ben Price.

There was a running joke in the 80s about Tracy Barlow disappearing upstairs to play some tapes and reappearing some months or years later with a new head. To be fair this only happened twice. Tracy was played  by Christabel Finch for the first 6 years of her life to be replaced first by Holly Charmette and then Dawn Acton who was a wonderful troublesome teen. Having coped with life with Ken and Deirdre, a kidney transplant and a failed marriage it was therefore surprising that the producers decided to recast the role when Tracy returned with a major character transplant. Dawn auditioned for the part but lost out to Kate Ford.

Rosie and Sophie Webster, Susan, Adam and Amy Barlow, Sarah-Louise Platt and her brother David and the Peacock children have all been played by different actors over the years.

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