(This post was originally posted by GraemeN on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Taylor has become one of my favourite current Coronation Street
characters. To coin a phrase, there's just something about her. Mary has
been brilliantly portrayed by Patti Clare for nearly a decade now, but
for me it is only the past year that we've seen her come into her own. I
have never ever doubted Patti's skills as an actress but for too long I
felt that while the writers obviously enjoyed penning Mary's lines, the
direction and purpose of the character was muddled to say the least.
begin with Mary was a figure of fun, coming out with random and mostly
impossible to imagine monologues which provided light to the ever
increasing shade in the world we called Weatherfield. Mary has been
paired up with Norris pretty much since the get go and they have fine
chemistry as the local odd couple. However I quickly became perplexed
when she seemed to spend all her time either in her motor-home or with a
group of, albeit sprightly, old age pensioners. Mary is, despite her
quirks, around the age of Steve and Michelle and yet hangs out with Rita
and Emily. The motor-home alone was problematic. It stuck out a mile on
the street and was a point of conversation for a while but soon I
couldn't help but wonder why she didn't have somewhere proper to live.
Mary didn't really have a specific purpose on the street, lacking a
regular job, which as we know is crucial for interaction with a wide
range of characters on the cobbles. She has always come across as an
educated person yet she seemed to have little in the way of experience
behind her (experience we did hear of seemed preposterous to say the
least!). Thankfully the motor-home has been consigned to the DVD rack of
history and now Mary spends time with characters other than Norris and
Rita. There was even a time when I would happily have seen the back of
Mary. A few years back she went a tad bunny boiler on us, keeping Norris
prisoner in a remote cottage. That storyline strained the humour of the situation too far and thankfully seems to have been forgotten.
think the turning point for Mary came when she formed an attachment
with Dev Alahan and his children. To begin with I questioned her
suitability to act as nanny to the twins but for the first time, these
scenes began to show a depth to the character we had not really seen
before. There was still an element of zany humour but with added pathos
and a sense of humanity, Mary started to soar in my affections. The
weird rivalry with Julie Carp aside (I still miss Julie and her
fantastic frocks by the way), I'm pleased Mary is still happily
ensconced with the Alahans. No doubt they will need her more than ever
once Erica departs.
have also loved seeing Mary establish herself in the florists with
Tracy. Tracy Barlow has long been in need of proper friends on the
street, a bit difficult when you're a loud mouthed She-Devil with the
tongue of Blanche and the kidney of Samir. However Tracy and Mary,another classic odd couple pairing, seem to have gelled and although
Tracy is frequently frustrated by Ms Taylor, an affectionate bond has
formed which is lovely to see. Even established characters need new
dimensions to keep them fresh and interesting.
me though, the biggest change for Mary Taylor has been actually giving
her serious meaty stories for Patti Clare to get her teeth into. We
first saw evidence of this when the truth behind Mary's infectious smile
came out towards the end of last year. When I first heard the idea of
Mary having a secret son, I was concerned it would not be believable.
Yet the writing, coupled with strong, affecting performances from Patti
and Malcolm Hebden, made it a high point of my recent Corrie watching.
My only regret was that the story seemed to be pushed into progressing
at too great a rate. After it all came out, Mary's son was found and had
presented himself in Weatherfield with alarming speed and all was well.
Thankfully Mary's son Jude will be more of a fixture in Coronation
Street soon and I can't wait to see which direction it heads in next.
Building a family around Mary is a really good sign for the future of
Mary's involvement in the latter stages of Bethany's grooming storyline
have been extremely welcome and beautifully played. Given her own
experiences as a teenager, it would only be fitting for Mary to offer
Bethany advice and guidance in her hour of need. Mary's vulnerability,
coupled with solidarity and strength in the face of the horrendous
Nathan stretched both the character of Mary and Patti Clare, the
actress. Don't get me wrong, I hope she continues to provide some
lighthearted moments amidst the Corrie gloom, but meatier stories really
suit Mary Taylor too.
So what are my wishes for the future of Mary? Aside from seeing her bond with Jude and his family, I really really think it is about time we were properly introduced to her mother! For nearly a decade this apparently monstrous gargoyle of a woman has been mentioned, with random descriptions tossed in to every day conversation, provoking raised eyebrows from not only Rita and Norris but also from the viewers. Mary's mum is a superb role just begging to be cast. There are plenty of character actresses out there who I'm sure could do her justice.
Long may Mary entertain us, make us laugh and cry. And long may Patti Clare grace the cobbles with her unique portrayal of Mary Taylor.
By Graeme Naylor
You can find me on Twitter @GraemeN82
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