(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in October 2015.)
As a Coronation Street traditionalist and a bit of a cynic, I'm not normally a fan of so-called stunt castings or bringing in big names when there are loads of actors out there desperate for their big break. Therefore, the arrival of Shayne Ward as Aidan Connor was not something I greeted with much enthusiasm.
Let's face it, the Connor family have a chequered history. The sprawling clan are probably the victim of too many different producers. New Connors pop up with alarming regularity, never mentioned before but always extremely familiar with each other with nary a trace of an Irish accent. In traditional soap opera style, as soon as the show is on the brink of running out of family members, several more suddenly appear almost as if the Corrie casting team have put an emergency advert in Spotlight.
Michelle was the first Connor to appear on screen. Originally a guest spot for Kym Marsh, her apparent popularity led to a full time gig and the introduction of several family members. First came brothers Paul and Liam. I never warmed to Paul as we weren't given the chance. Actor Sean Gallagher obviously realised life in a continuing drama wasn't for him as he didn't last long. Paul, Carla's first husband died in a car accident, Leanne Battersby locked in his boot. Liam was much more popular but I didn't take to him. For most of the two years he spent on screen, neither the character nor the actor seemed to find much enthusiasm for life in Weatherfield.
Carla is by far the most successful of all the Connors, but she didn't have much competition - Ryan anyone? The first version of Michelle's pride and joy was completely free of personality and the revamped Ryan wasn't much better. He may have been a foot taller, ten years older and bulging with biceps, but his storylines left a lot to be desired. Can anyone remember which was Michelle's real son? Actually, who cares?
Anyway, Carla and Michelle are now joined by three new Connors. So far so good. Johnny Connor is a rough diamond business man with a mischevious twinkle and a love for a Belgian bun. Actor Richard Hawley is doing well and seems to easily fit in at the factory. There is a dearth of decent mature male characters in Weatherfield - we will be losing Tony at some point soon and as for Sharif, well let's just say Johnny doesn't have a lot of competition.
Kate Connor seems quite a sparky, intelligent addition to the clan too. She outed herself to Beth and Kirk the other night comparing the decision to the choice between prawn cocktail and salt and vinegar crisps. This must surely mean she'll be buying her potato-based snacks from Sophie Webster before too long. We must enjoy the sparky Ms Connor before Sophie soaks all the life out of her and turns her into a whining drudge.
I seem to have drifted off my original topic slightly, so let's refocus of the delectable Aidan. Against my better judgement, I'm a fan. It takes guts for someone in the public eye to switch careers and have a go at something else. Shayne Ward has done that and I applaud it. We haven't had nearly enough time to decide whether Aidan will be a successful long term character or yet another Luke Strong (remember him? Nah, didn't think so). I've heard rumours Aidan will become involved with Eva which might do the character a lot of good as Catherine Tyldesley is excellent value.
In the meantime, I'm happy to enjoy Aidan's appearances at Underworld as he struts about in those lovely tight shirts of his - thank you to the Corrie wardrobe team for these, I love you all. Yes it's shallow but at least I'm honest!
So are the latest influx of Corrie Connors doing it for you or am I a lone voice in the wilderness? And if Shayne Ward wants to loosen off any more buttons, I won't complain...
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