Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Does Corrie make the most of its senior cast members?

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in December 2013.)

By gum but Coronation Street can be frustrating. It has all the elements of the best television programme on earth, yet recently it just keeps falling short. There are lots of big, explosive storylines and headline grabbing action, but I just don't feel the writers are making the most of the talent available.

This view has been reinforced only this very Sunday morning with the news that Philip Lowrie has been reportedly axed as Dennis Tanner. In my view one of the few really good things to happen under the reign of Phil Collinson was the decision to bring back Dennis. Philip Lowrie is such a good character and such an important link to former glories.

Apparently the Corrie writers can't think of anything else to do with him after being so underused for the past three years. I just can't fathom it.

There have been scant references to his glorious mother Elsie, no return for his sister Linda. Dennis has barely been seen on screen with characters like Deirdre, Audrey and Gail - characters who knew Elsie well back in the 70s. I'm not saying Corrie should live in the past, but I do think it is a fondness for what has gone before that keeps many of us loyal viewers watching. Instead we get a constant, tedious diet of Tina's trysts, Tracy's tantrums and Windass wingers.

The older Corrie cast are fast diminishing. It was inevitable really, but surely the sad losses in recent years should galvanise the writers to invest in the classic characters we are still lucky to have, while we have them? 

Rita still has plenty of screen time, but mainly as a foil to TIna's latest exploits. Involvement with Tina has turned Rita into something of a daft old dear. Would Rita really keep bailing Tina out and involving herself in all those dramas? Gail and Audrey are also still prominent but again only as a backdrop to the younger characters' infidelities and outlandish acts. Why can't Gail have a strong storyline of her own? Why can't Audrey? Let's see a female friend from either of their pasts come back and revitalise them.

We seldom see Emily these days and Norris also barely gets a look in. The biggest disappointment for me is the chronic way Deirdre has been underused of late. We've seen glimpses of the old sparkle whenever Anne Kirkbride has been given a chance, however I struggle to recall the last time she carried a major storyline of her own. 

So can it be true that storyline ideas for the older cast are drying up? 

Surely these longstanding characters should still be what drives the programme, even if they are all reaching a certain maturity. 

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