Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Corrie Episodes I Remember - Bet's relationship woes

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog November 2012, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Continuing with my occasional series remembering and commenting on episodes from the past 52 years, here is a look back another episode from times gone by. I will provide a brief synopsis of the episode, explain why I have chosen it and then give details on my favourite scene and best performance (in my humble opinion). Now, remember when Bet Lynch had hooked up with Len Fairclough? It certainly had Rita and Blanche talking back in 1975...

Bet and Len - episode first broadcast 31 March 1975

What Happened
This episode deals with two ongoing storylines that took centre stage in 1975 - the nuptials of Deirdre Hunt and the love life of Len Fairclough. Len, as we all know had an on/off relationship with Rita until they finally wed in 1977. However, never one to rest on his laurels, our Len also managed a fling with barmaid extraordinaire, Elizabeth Theresa Lynch. A Street wedding is also being planned, that of Deirdre Hunt and Billy Walker, much to the chagrin of Billy's mother, the regal Annie, Queen of the Rovers Return. The episode also ends with more bad news in store for Bet, regarding the son she gave away years before.
Why I have chosen this episode
This episode is a prime example of Coronation Street at it's best. It is full of rich dialogue, believable characters, stories and situations and allows proper development without relying on cheap stunts that detract from the performances. It is also a reminder of how powerful, two handed scenes used to dominate the show, often lasting several minutes, while always managing to hold the attention of the viewers'. The scenarios are familiar, namely Bet left alone, disappointed by yet another man. However the scenes are expertly played and showed Bet off stage, as it were, away from her performance behind the bar. It is also interesting to see what might have been if Deirdre and Billy had married after all, rather than Ray Langton stepping in after Billy vanished. I would have relished more scenes between Annie and Blanche! Also, keep your eyes peeled for a pre-Norris turn from Malcolm Hebden!

Favourite scene
A brilliant, quietly played scene between Bet and Len which goes on for nearly five minutes. This is Bet without make up, showing her true feelings and summing up where she is in life and what she wants. None of the pantomime like performances that would creep in later on. You could truly empathise with her character here - Len could provide all that she is looking for in life but he is in it for everything but commitment. Bet doesn't break down, there are no histrionics. The scene ends with a fade to black as Len leaves Bet alone in her bedsit. 

Best performance
It has to be Julie Goodyear as Bet. She was always great in the lighthearted bantering scenes with the Rovers regulars however here she proves what a good actress she could be. Despite the back street glamour and sharp one-liners, she was really a lonely soul who always wanted better, knowing it wouldn't happen. She is terrific in these scenes.

Favourite Lines
Bet: "If all tomorrows are like all todays you can keep 'em."

Bet: "When you've been with someone and it's all warm and close, and then they go...and you're just on your own again."

Rita: "I sometimes think I'd have been better off getting wed at eighteen to a big strapping lad  and having half a dozen kids."
Emily: "I had a friend who did that."
Rita: "Is she happy?"
Emily: "No."

Do you remember these episodes when they were first broadcast? How do you think they compare to today's Coronation Street? 

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