Monday, 5 September 2016

The Genius of Patti Clare who plays Mary Taylor

(This post was originally posted by Ruth Owen on the Coronation Street Blog in August 2016, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Patti Clare who plays Mary Taylor, lives a life far removed from her Corrie persona. She is 40, has a partner and 2 children and was a stage actress before turning to television. She was working as an office receptionist when the call from Corrie came. From her first appearance in November 2008, I have thoroughly enjoyed her appearances.

What I'd like to ask is this -  Is she still the character who splits opinion in Corrie as much as Jeremy Corbyn in politics? I suspect not and have the sense that viewers  have warmed towards her. The reason for such suspicions is that she has been toned down considerably by the writers since her entry into Weatherfield. Gone (almost) are the psychotic leanings, the disturbed behaviour,  and in their place we have a woman who is more stable, more accepted by the folk of Weatherfield, and therefore more integrated, thus much less likely to kidnap anyone. That said, she is still eccentric, off the wall and likely to ramble about her past, thereby producing confused glances - but she is fundamentally likeable now.

Her role as nanny to Dev's children is invaluable to her, to Dev and to his children. Everyone wins. It was interesting to hear her comments about Erica's attempts to get to know Dev's children better. Asha and Adi had told Erica that they had to have black coffee with breakfast - and told the gullible and desperate to please Erica, that it was a cultural thing. In the telling it was clear that Mary was implying that they would never try such nonsense on her and, in fairness to Mary, she does seem to have the affection and the respect of both children.

Mary is also invaluable to other people, especially those running small businesses. She pops up in The Kabin and she helps Roy and Cathy out in Roy's Rolls. She must be trustworthy or else she would  not be asked time after time to help out.

The person/s who write for Mary, in my view has/have one of the best jobs in the world. There is a 'flavour' to Mary's lines, her words and an immediately recognisable pattern of vocabulary and expression. Mary's delivery or perhaps here I should say Patti is faultless - every time. In Roy's Rolls viewers will remember her comment to Maria who is buying cakes from her. She points out that Maria is lucky to be able to stay slim despite eating cake. She adds, 'I only have to look at a Bakewell and I balloon that much that my popsox cut off my circulation.' Unmistakeable Mary. She then chats to Aidan and Eva, who are house hunting. She tells them that she 'was entranced by Starsky and Hutch as a girl and was determined to see their world' for herself. As is often the case with Mary, the story goes a little off kilter and she says, 'My dream to drive through to the Grand Canyon, the majesty of Mother Earth at her most inspiring, took a wrong turn coming out of Nevada.' She ends up at the Burning Man festival where it appears, clothes are optional.

It may also interest people to know that before Patti Clare got the call to play Mary Taylor, Patti herself had contacted Coronation Street with her idea to be introduced onto the cobbles as Raquel Wostenholme's sister -  Raquel of course being played by the nothing short of brilliant, Sarah Lancashire

So is her mother dead or alive? Alive is what I believe. And what of her father, and any siblings? I don't believe we have ever heard mention of any other family members besides her mother. How interesting that would be - for Corrie to introduce a family member of Mary's. We do hear quite a lot about  'mother' - whose advice apparently to the would-be mother is, 'If a woman wants to get pregnant she should eat 4 raw onions a day, and stand on her head after relations - no wonder Uncle Frank left.' Who is Uncle Frank? A lover of her mother's and an 'uncle' who is not really an uncle but the current lover of Mary's mother?

Patti Clare is a worthy recipient of her comedy awards, which are several, including her most recent one for Best Comedy Performance British Soap 2016.

No longer the rather cruel 'Scary Mary' but now a character who is largely accepted and enjoying her life in Weatherfield. Hats off to Patti Clare for bringing to life this now poignant, tender, cheerful, useful and well-meaning woman.

Ruth Owen, twitter @ruth1722

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