(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)
A guest blog post from Coronation Street Blog reader (and one of our Corrie fans of the week) ELK.
"With Deirdre's funeral the focus this week, several comments have appeared asking about Liz and Deirdre's friendship, even wondering why, if they're such good friends, we haven't seen them together on screen more often. This led me to search the wiki-annals for episodes from the 90s featuring scenes between them, except that I could hardly find any mention, possibly because those scenes were less central to plot events than they were to developing a dialogue and bond, like Steve and Lloyd shooting the breeze in StreetCars today. It doesn't mean the scenes aren't there, but it requires delicate sifting to find them: for instance, Liz dropping by Deirdre's house in 1990 to apologise for Andy's antics in Ken's classroom (Andy wrote KB hearts WC, as in Ken Barlow loves Wendy Crozier, on the blackboard), or Liz, at the Rovers in 1997, encouraging Deirdre to visit Jon Lindsay at work on New Year's Eve, thus prompting the chain of events that would lead to Deirdre's discovery of his criminal web of lies.
For me, however, one of the most memorable Liz-Deirdre episodes took place in 1997 when Sally found out about Kevin's affair with Natalie Horrocks. Upon getting confirmation from Bill Webster about the affair, Sal turns on her heel and heads for Natalie's house, but first she has to find someone to care for her girls. Meeting Deirdre in the street, she asks her to look after Rosie and Sophie while she nips out. Deirdre says she can't because she's going to the pictures with Liz. Sally hurriedly confides the reason for her taking off and Deirdre, immediately grasping the urgency of the situation, takes the two young girls back to her flat. There, she and Liz, waiting for Sally's return, discuss the ins and outs of cheating. Liz asks “Why d'you think people do it?” to which Deirdre – an expert at this point – answers “You just get drawn into it, you don't realise the consequences... “ Liz wants to put Kevin down as a liar, but Deirdre is more magnanimous: “Maybe he's not. Maybe he just wasn't happy with Sally. You don't know how people are. You get bored, envious, it doesn't take much.”
This is the main thing I miss about the old Corrie - less judgment, less getting up on the high horse all around. On a street where neighbours live together in a fishbowl, ready to gossip at the drop of a hat, characters like Deirdre, and Emily as well, have served as bellwethers over the years, reminding others that not everything is as it seems, that, despite hearing arguments through thin walls, despite spying suspicious behaviour in the ginnels, despite a sense of entitled intrusiveness every which way, still, it's key to remember: “you don't know how people are.”
Liz and Deirdre's conversation in that episode isn't heavy. Deirdre tosses off her hard-earned truths like airy smoke rings from a cigarette. Almost in mid-thought they decide to ring up Sally to find out if she's back, in case there's still time to catch their flick. Meanwhile, Sally is back at hers sobbing, ignoring the phone, and bracing for a showdown with Kevin. We already know that Sally's personal tragedy will require more than a brief babysitting stint and that Liz and Deirdre will end up watching a video at home. It's an episode full of mature understanding and a worthwhile moral: even if not all endings are sweet, at least you can depend on the fact that your neighbours aren't perfect either, they won't lord it over you, and will even sacrifice a night out at the pictures to extend a helping hand.
When I think about the origins of Coronation Street, I always think about the buried subtext: a series conceived by a gay man who, by sheer accident of his orientation, lived outside of conventional morality and occupied a unique perspective from which to critique it. This perspective also allowed him to identify with female characters who defied conventional morality and through whom he was able to express his own painful wisdom. Deirdre was certainly one of these characters and Liz her loyal confidante.
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