Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Whatever happened to the women of Weatherfield?

(This post was originally posted by Clinkers (David) on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2016, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Admittedly, I haven't felt the need to blog anything Corrie-related for a while. The show seems to have hit a period of stasis where it feels as though plots are ticking over gently, awaiting the arrival of the new boss woman and her equally new broom.

Partly though, I was ever so slightly worn down by the constant appearance of The Bistro in nearly every scene. There it was, camera trained on its door or on the Product Placement advert for Visa. I'm surprised Nick hasn't picked the card machine up and, vinegary smile in place and turned towards us proffering the thing. I suppose the Bistro set has it uses. For example it keeps Leanne confined to a small space. There's no possibility of her launching into one of her legendary 'face like a war' marathon stomps, M & S mac blowing in the wind behind her.

When there's not much going on though, it's easy to let your mind wander and wander it did. I found myself looking at Carla Connor, or whatever she's called these days, anew. Who was this woman? This forty-something quivering wreck, all Cadbury's Milk Chocolate (other brands are available) brown hair with her wintry, pensioner-faced boyfriend and vase of red wine to hand. Was this really the Carla Connor that I remembered?

Clearly not. I dug out an old episode from 2007 as I assumed that by then, she would have been making a name for herself on t'Street. She was a completely different person. For a start, the hair colour was Guinness black (again, other varieties of stout can be purchased). In a scene at the Rovers, she let rip at an oddly mute and non arm-flapping Michelle, accusing her of never having liked her and how the mighty Connors  had never welcomed her. No sign of red wine, just lots of white to wash down that venom. Off Carla went, to th'ospickle where her errant husband was breathing his last, not that she was particularly bothered. The situation just provided her with a chance to shout her mouth off in the waiting room, slating Leanne in the process. This was a very different Carla - a mouthy, rather nasty piece of work, eyes flaming and sarcasm to the fore. This Carla would have annihilated Tracy Barlow.  We need her to return before she bows out forever. She needs to displace the whimpering, simpering lady with the chocolate tresses.

Another candidate for 'Would the real Eileen Grimshaw please stand up?' is Eileen Grimshaw.

Anyone fancy casting their minds back sixteen years? Are you finding it difficult to recapture the infectious joy of the nascent Eileen? Well, she was actually a bit of fun back then. Mark One Eileen was sharp, sassy and funny. She ruled the roost at the cab office and did so with genuine good humour. Fast forward to 2016 and behold the sad sack that is Eileen now. You can't miss her. She'll be the one in the corner, draining the life out of every scene. A little like Tracy B, Eileen never learns. For her, the grass is always greener on the other side, even when it turns out to be derelict land. One unsuitable man follows another and with each failed romance, stomach churning though the thought may be, Eileen adds another layer of armour. The wit evaporated and turned to spite. The humour faded into malicious sarcasm. In her wake, two sons, one of whom might have earned the ultimate Blanche Hunt epithet of 'daft' and the other who makes posies for a murderer. No wonder she seeks solace in kiddie's entertainers and firemen. Anything to lighten the load. Except that now she is in a joy-sapping relationship with the equally dour Michael, enlivened only by the presence of deranged Scouser, Pat "I'm mad, me' Phelan. There will be tears before bedtime. Eileen's tears but we are used to them by now. Miserable Eileen needs to book herself a taxi and do one. We need jolly, joyous, funny Eileen back.

Given her penchant for children's entertainers, maybe she'll make a move on Play School's Derek Griffiths. Except, children, look what he's seen through the arched window . . .

David - on twitter @bridglondon

Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.

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