Thursday, 31 January 2013

Coronation Street Art for sale

A few months ago, I spotted on Facebook  a really nice graphic of the Street. It's by a Toronto artist, David Crighton but there was no word at the time as to how you could purchase a copy of the print. I've had an email from Mr. Crighton and he's now got prints for sale. You can see a closeup of the full Coronation Street collage here.

You may notice that the houses/businesses are out of order but they're supposed to be like that, a kind of collage. You can also get sections of the main art view as a print, i.e. just the Rovers as in this photo here (copyright David Crighton of course!). Click here to see the poster showing the individual "section" prints.

He is selling the prints unmounted and signed and will be setting up a Paypal account for payment. Shipping costs within Canada should be under $15 and he will ship outside of Canada, though costs may vary. Prints are 8x12 inches in size and cost $50 Canadian for one or $175 for a set of four (plus applicable taxes and shipping costs) He's taking orders or inquiries by email

You can find David Crighton on Facebook and on his personal website, in the "Outside Toronto" section here. He also has some really lovely prints in a similar style of Toronto scenes. Check them out, too!

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They don't Alf make them like this any more!

(This post was originally posted by Llifon on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

While Rita is my favourite female character, my favourite male character has to be good old Alf Roberts. To me, he was a brilliant character. Why? Because he was ordinary, down to earth and a true Northerner. And for Bryan Mosley, the actor who played him, playing ordinary was a great feat and I think that Alf is undermined as a character for that reason.

First appearing in 1961, Alf didn’t become a regular for another decade and would appear on the cobbles for the next 27 years or so. Originally a GPO sorter, he worked alongside Ken Barlow’s dad Frank. When he reappeared on our screens in 1971 he was by then a supervisor. Alf also involved himself in local politics and was a councillor for many years and twice served as mayor of Weatherfield in 1973 and 1994. He lost his seat in 1987 when he lost against Deirdre Barlow which caused him to have a heart attack. He reclaimed his seat in 1991 when he beat Deirdre in the election and remained in his seat until he retired in 1998.
But of course it is Alf the grocer that we all love and remember. While it was in 1979 that he officially stepped behind the counter, his association with the corner shop dated to the early 1970s when he helped Maggie Clegg out with some heavy lifting. He married shopkeeper Renee Bradshaw in 1978 and the following year he left the GPO to become a full-time shopkeeper, much to Renee’s chagrin. But within a year Alf was on his own when Renee was killed in a car crash and he had to soldier on alone, although he hired Deirdre as his assistant. For the next fourteen years, Alf would be the face of the corner shop and, in my opinion this was the golden era of the shop. The shop became self-service in 1985 and became Alf’s Mini Mart. Alf retired in 1993 after being pressurized by third wife Audrey and sold the shop to Brendan Scott but within a few months he bought it back after Brendan died. He sold it again in 1994 to Reg Holdsworth. It was really an end of an era.

Romantically, Alf led a busy life. He’d married Phyllis Plant in 1949, who was originally engaged to Alf’s brother Malcolm but Malcolm had died in a car accident caused by Alf and so Alf did his duty and married Phyllis. Although the marriage was a loveless one, Alf and Phyllis were married until 1972 when Phyllis died of cancer. He then started seeing Maggie Clegg and due to their closeness he asked Maggie to be his mayoress in 1973. She declined, and so Alf asked Annie Walker who was in her element. They kept their relationship going but when Alf proposed she declined. It has to be said that Alf was a bit miffed when Maggie later married Ron Cooke and immigrated to sunny Zaire.
In 1975, Alf became infatuated with a fellow GPO worker called Donna Parker. She moved in with him and into his bed and when she told him of her dreams to open a hair salon, he gave her £500. She then vanished. But she did repay him later. Renee Bradshaw entered his life in 1976 and after two marriage proposals they got married in 1978. But the marriage was cut short when Renee was killed in a car crash after visiting Grange over Sands in 1980. The Roberts had planned to run a sub-post office in Grange.

After a brief romance with Joyce Lomas in 1982, Alf married Audrey Potter in 1985. He’d proposed to Audrey in 1981 but she rebuffed. The second time, Audrey sought security and Alf was the perfect example and they married. While they were mismatched, they became one of the most popular Corrie couples. Through Audrey, Alf became part of the Tilsley/Platt family, something that he hadn’t felt before. The children called him ‘Granddad’ and he loved that.
But special mention goes to Alf’s secret love, as Doris Day used to sing. When his best pal Len Fairclough died in 1983, Alf took upon the duty of looking after Len’s widow Rita’s interests. He helped her out with the sale of Len’s yard and dealt with various financial matters that Len used to handle. Rita was naturally grateful but both Mavis and Deirdre noticed that Alf was keen on Rita. But Rita saw nothing in it and unwittingly encouraged Alf. Although she agreed to accompany him to a dance, when he asked her to go on holiday with him, she declined. And she told him not to meet up with her in Blackpool when she went on holiday there with Mavis and Bet. But she was startled when he proposed to her during the opening of the refurbished shop. She rejected his offer and told him she saw him as a good friend. Alf went on to marry Audrey but deep down, it was Rita he loved. He turned to her when he had marriage problems. And when Rita relocated the Kabin, he was on hand to help, much to Audrey’s annoyance. She once said: “Rita’s Alf’s idea of the perfect woman”. In 1993, a drunken Alf told Rita he’d leave Audrey for her. And when he’d sobered up, he said the same thing but yet again Rita rebuffed. In 1994, when he became mayor, Alf asked Rita to be his mayoress but Audrey threatened to spread rumours that they were lovers and Alf instated Audrey as mayoress. So, despite Alf’s romantic intentions, Rita saw as an old and dear friend. Even though he’s dead, Alf is still to this day a cause of conflict sometimes between Audrey and Rita even though they’re best friends. Audrey’s aware that Rita had a special place in Alf’s heart.
Due to Bryan Mosley’s ailing health in the late 1990s, Alf’s appearances became recurring. And during his final months, he was the shadow of his former self due to weight loss and looking frail and tired. In 1997 he only appeared in 23 episodes and in 1998 in 19 episodes. Alf was written out in 1999 when he died of a heart attack at Nick Tilsley’s 18th birthday party. Sadly, Bryan Mosley himself died only six weeks later.
Alf was a Corrie great. He was so great the Queen gave him an OBE!! While Corrie has had many battleaxes, sirens and gossips, it will only have one Alfred Sidney Roberts. And the wonderful You Tube showcases many Alf Roberts classic moments thanks to the golden episodes uploaded by MrMagister1. I just love watching him argue with Audrey or Percy Sugden, telling everybody about the importance of a corner shop or supping in the Rovers. As well as Len and Rita, he was also good friends with Annie Walker, Ken Barlow, Bet Lynch and Mike Baldwin. As his campaign poster supposedly said, he was the People’s Friend.
And I loved him saying “By ‘eck!”
So, let’s raise a glass and remember that Corrie legend Alf Roberts! A true Corrie great!

Do you miss Alf on the cobbles? Were you a fan of him?

* Thanks to Sam Taylor from Corrie4ever for the fab photo of Alf and Rita and of Alf in the Rovers.

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Fab Photo Thursday - The Tanners

(This post was originally posted by Sunny Jim on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

It's that time again, time for another fab Coronation Street photo. Here's a rare appearance of Elsie Tanner's first husband, Arnold, father to Dennis and Linda.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Street needs a new slapper

(This post was originally posted by Clinkers (David) on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

What the world needs now, is love sweet love sang the great Jackie DeShannon about 350 years ago. How wrong she was - certainly where Corrie is concerned. Scott's excellent blog about Leanne Battersby-Tilsley-Barlow-Quite Possibly Tilsley Again got me thinking. Where is the Street's tart without a heart? Where is the over made-up troll, anyone's for a vodka and yours for a tenner? Or maybe even a Tanner?

Leanne, with her voice like a flock of crows, is probably the best tart we've had hanging around the cobbles for many a decade. She's certainly the only one who ever made any money out of the world's oldest profession. Bet was all front and Elsie was just a series of old blouses topped off with her "I've been there kid" ironic smile.

What the Street could do with is a dose (and my nominee has probably had one or two of those . . .) of a good old-fashioned, nicotine-stained, hard-faced, Elizabeth Duke jewellery-wearing spitbag. Step forward Kelly Maguire from Shameless! The show is due to end it's decade-long run this year so how about Kelly moves across Manchester to Weatherfield. This woman's morals are so low they could limbo dance under a blade of grass. She does her shopping dressed in micro-knickers, enjoys a snifter or two of the Bolivian Marching Powder but also possesses a good head for business. I'm thinking Corner Shop perhaps? Or maybe Carla could run up a new 'slut chic' line? Although I can't see Hayley parading round in fishnets and a grubby fake-fur coat. Emily on the other hand . . .

Anyway ITV1, make us all proud and sign up this wondrous baggage. Maybe Kelly could even bring along her Bo Selecta-looking madam, Lilian? A nation waits.

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Corriefest pics and review - Coronation Street fan convention

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2013, reposted to this blog with permission.)

To Manchester for two very special Coronation Street events held at the award-winning pub, The Lass o'Gowrie.

First up were two episodes of Coronation Street from 1977 acted out live in front of us in the pub by a wonderful team of actors. The audience followed the action around the pub watching two full half-hour performances as Annie Walker had her delusions of grandeur crushed underfoot when she found out the monogrammed (or mammogrammed as Hilda Ogden called it) carpet with AW on it was nothing more than an offcut from the Alhambra Weatherfield bingo hall.  

For a full review of the Coronation Street 1977 Live! plays, do please have a look here.

Picture from Coronation Street 1977 Live! copyright Elspeth Mary Moore - see many more here.

It's not too late to see these plays as they run for another couple of days.  Buy tickets and find out more here.


Well, if that wasn't exciting enough, the next day we set off back to the Lass o'Gowrie pub bright and early in the morning for a 10am start for Corriefest - the UK's Coronation Street fan convention.  Also turning up early for the event were fellow bloggers and podcasters from Conversation Street, Coronation Street actor Dave Dutton - the man who's had 11 roles on Corrie - and our friends and guest bloggers Nikki and John.   We all trooped off for a coffee and then returned to the pub to take our seats for one of the best days I've ever had as a Coronation Street fan.

With a packed pub and a sell-out event, I was really lucky to sit right at the very front of the action. I felt a bit like the class nerd but got over my embarassment and decided to wear my Corrie anorak with pride and make the most of sitting in the best seat in the house.

MC Charlie Ross, Corriefest
Corriefest kicked off with a warm up from MC Charlie Ross, stand up comedian, TV writer, actor, football fan and bit of a geek - his words, not mine. Find out more about him here.  Charlie introduced us to an amazing bit of footage from 1972 which had long been thought lost and had only recently been found. It was the episode of This is Your Life for Pat Phoenix and was like watching not just Corrie gold,  but pure TV gold.

We then had a screening of another rare programme which had never seen the light of day before.  It was a pilot for a TV show written by Coronation Street writer-turned-producer Harry Kershaw, called Lift Off.  It was a Corrie spin-off starring Graham Haberfield and Neville Buswell who played Jerry Booth and Ray Langton on the Street.  Graham and Neville played their Corrie characters but while on Corrie they were both builders, in Lift Off they'd turned into insurance salesman.  It was interesting to watch and to see what could have been if Lift Off had indeed Taken Off, which it obviously hadn't.  Fred Feast, who played Corrie's Fred Gee, also turned up in the programme as the lift engineer.

Actress Kathy Jones at Corriefest 2013 with Gareth Kavanagh and Charlie Ross
With our minds firmly planted in Coronation Street's past and the golden age of Granada TV, what a delight it was to hear from one of Corrie's first ever dolly-birds!  Actress Kathy Jones, who played Gail's mate Tricia Hopkins, took to the stage and shared some of her history working as a 19 year old on what was then the new Northern drama series.  Find out more about Kathy Jones and Tricia Hopkins here.   After Kathy's turn at the mic, the floor was open to questions from fans.   You can follow Kathy on twitter at @KathyJones.

Casting Director June West at Corriefest 2013 with Jeni Howarth-Williams
Up next on stage was legendary Coronation Street casting director June West. Not only has June cast some of the most iconic characters for Corrie, she also did the casting for the rather fab BBC4 drama The Road to Coronation Street.  June was interviewed by actress Jeni Howarth-Williams, who played Elsie Howard in the Coronation Street 1977 plays held at the Lass o'Gowrie.  

June revealed that actor Rupert Everett is "desperate" to be in Coronation Street and he was almost cast in the role of Lewis Archer but it was given, as we know, to Nigel Havers. 

June gave a good insight into the casting process for Coronation Street and The Road to Coronation Street. She got a big laugh when she said that after Alan Hasall was originally cast as Tyrone Dobbs, one of the Corrie writers saw him on screen for the first time and said: "Well, there's our next Albert Tatlock!"

It was then time for lunch with hotpot served behind the bar and the chance to meet some lovely people I'd only ever chatted to on twitter before - including our guest blogger Kel who is on twitter @kelwrites and Coronation Street extra Jonny Grimshaw, who is on twitter @jonnygforce and I even got the chance to meet one of our Coronation Street fans of the week.  What a cracking day this was turning out to be!

Writer John Stevenson at Corriefest 2013 with Corriefest organiser and Lass o'Gowrie landlord Gareth Kavanagh

After lunch we took our seats again for the main man, Coronation Street writer John Stevenson. John wrote his first script in May 1976 and his work includes writing the Ken/Deidre/Mike love triangle storyline and the January 2000 "two-hander" featuring Raquel and Curly Watts.  He also wrote out Alan Bradley by killing him off getting knocked over by the Blackpool tram.

John revealed that one side of the character of Annie Walker was partly based on his own mum. Now, there's an admission to make! He also said that Sir Laurence Olivier wanted to be on Coronation Street and the writing team had him pencilled in to make an appearance on the show - as a tramp!

What a great bloke and wonderful storyteller John Stevenson was.  As you can see from the picture below, the audience were rapt.  This picture shows just a fraction of the audience, with yours truly in seventh heaven at the very front, and is copyright Debbie Manley, who is on twitter at

Corriefest 2013 at The Lass o'Gowrie
After John Stevenson's fantastic talk, we then had The Big Fat Coronation Street Quiz with a quizmaster who had once appeared on Coronation Street. He played an extra who was thrown out of the Kabin by Rita for looking through mucky magazines.  We know this because it was a true or false question in the quiz! You can follow him on twitter @Eatmymindquiz

Our quiz team comprised of Flaming Nora, Sunny Jim, Fat Brenda, actor Dave Dutton, Nikki Beresford and John Beresford. The team from the Coronation Street Blog, I'm very proud to say, won the quiz! We very narrowly beat the team from Conversation Street and walked away with the top prize of Coronation Street Monopoly (which had been supplied by two of our team members!).

We also won a pot of cash which we donated to the charity which Corriefest was supporting - Myeloma UK.

And then, finally, to bring the day to a close, the wonderful Sue Jenkins took to the stage. Sue played Rovers Return barmaid Gloria Todd from 1985 - 1988.   

Sue Jenkins at Corriefest 2013 with David MacCreedy - co-director of Coronation Street 1977
Sue talked about being brought into Coronation Street for two episodes only while Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch, was away from the show.  However, she made such an impression on the show's bosses that she was asked to stay on.  Sue is also the mother of Richard Fleeshman, and she was pregnant while she was working behind the bar at the Rovers. Richard, of course, went on to play Corrie's Craig Harris the Goth and is now playing on Broadway in musicals. 

Sue revealed that she was in very much in awe of Julie Goodyear when she first started work on Corrie and even though she and Julie became very good friends over the time she was working on the Street, she always felt a little in awe of her. She told a funny story about being at a charity do with Julie Goodyear where Julie Goodyear introduced Sue as "my barmaid" even in real life.   It was fun to listen to Sue talk about her time on Corrie working with Julie Goodyear as Bet, while being overlooked by a huge mural of Bet Lynch on the wall of the pub.

After Sue finished, she took questions from the audience and posed for photos with fans. As well as being a huge Corrie fan, I was probably an even bigger fan of Brookside when it was going and to me, Sue Jenkins is better known as Jackie Corkhill. I would've loved to have dared ask her to say, just once, in that scouse accent she had on the show: "Drucks, Jimmy? Drucks" but it was niether the time nor the place! 

And with that, it was time to head home.  Corriefest has been a wonderful experience and I do hope it'll run next year too.  With thanks to all at The Lass o'Gowrie for organising it for us Corrie fans.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Life comes full circle for David

(This post was originally posted by me on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

Isn't it funny how "what goes around, comes around"? Here's Kylie pregnant with a baby that could be her husband's, but it could be her brother-in-law's as well. She's already said she wasn't ready to have another child which caused the rift in her marriage that brought us to this point.  If you read the spoilers for next week's episodes, you know Kylie confesses to a friend, Eva, that she's going to have an abortion and she gets as far as the clinic. Eva tells David and David runs to talk her out of it, not knowing, of course, that the baby might be Nick's and he talks Kylie into coming home from the clinic for now.

Let's go back 20-odd years. Another woman, a widow, finds herself pregnant by a younger man. She doesn't want to tie the man down to her and decides to have an abortion. She confides in her best friend and that friend, Sally, tells her husband who runs straight to the father of the baby. That man, Martin, manages to talk Gail into not going ahead with the procedure and they eventually marry and raise the baby.

Back to the future, now, and that child, David, discovers that his mother had considered an abortion and he goes mental. Now, he's in the same situation that his father was in. I wonder if the irony has occurred to David? If this baby is born and grows up, will he/she discover that Kylie nearly had a termination? Will that child turn into a clone of a troubled David?

Stay tuned.

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Oh for goodness sake, Coronation Street!

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

I'm in whingey, whiney mode again, and I make no apologies for this. I feel like I'm performing a public service! What is going on with Coronation Street? It's beginning to drive me bonkers.

Is there something in the water in Weatherfield? Less that two weeks ago Fiz-Bomb Stape was nearly gassed to death in her very own front parlour and what now? Back, full of life, slopping out cold beans and limp toast to Jason "I've got my hands on Stella's pumps" Grimshaw. Not in the real world.

And as for Jason and St Ella, the Cougar of the parish. What are the Coronation Street production team trying to do to me? Do they really not like me at all? Do they know I need to diet after Christmas so they've produced this coupling to put me off my Scotch pies and Tunnocks Teacakes? Perhaps Jason will be the dumper this time instead of the dumped and surprise us all?

The Roy and Mary thing? Not again! Now, I really like Roy and Mary is ok in small doses, but I feel this has been done to death already. Now we know Hayley is leaving I get nervous every time I see Mary circling Roy like a barmy piranha. Please do not put them together. I worry a future plot line will see Roy taped up and held prisoner in that motorhome.

Leanne and Nick. Leanne and Peter. Carla and Peter. Leanne and Nick again. How many more permutations of this can we cope with? I am waiting for the writers to have them all go gay. We are getting to the point where this story is not only scraping the bottom of the barrel, it's underneath it. I'm surprised we've not had Leanne having an affair with Carla and Peter shacking up with Nick. Give it time...

How many times have we seen the classic plot device of a one night stand leading to a pregnancy? Here we go again, this time with David and Kylie. And how many times have we had a desperate dash to an abortion clinic to stop it taking place? Such issues are not to be taken lightly but it feels like it's storylining by numbers to add to the "explosive" drama. 

And three special requests: No more boring faktry stories with Apprentice rejects Michelle and Rob. Before much longer please let Norris be nice, not this nasty, cantankerous old sourpuss he's become. And  finally...enough with all the shouting! Corrie never used to be this way! Aggression all over the place! It's unnecessary, adds nothing and reminds me of a lesser soap opera on the other side...

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Monday, 28 January 2013

Is Rob finally finding his feet?

(This post was originally posted by Chewy on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

Ever since Rob first turned up on the street, he has seemed like a bit of a spare part. He's basically been playing Luke Strong, which felt like one of the biggest letdowns of his character.

When I first heard that Carla's brother was joining the show, I was excited, we were finally going to see another side to Carla, but then came the news that Carla and Peter were leaving for six months.

This left Rob at a bit of a dead end, the most interesting part of his character is that he is Carla's brother. When Carla returned this Christmas, we finally started seeing their sibling rivalry crop up, I'm just hoping his relationship with Tracy doesn't drag his character back down again.

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Weekly Awards for Jan. 21 - 25

That's your life mate: After the toast discussion, Karl comes home to burned toast.

Useless Twit award aka Showing your True Colours award: Karl.

Hard worker award: Beth and Kirk are both "grafters" but neither one could get up off the chair to get a bag of crisps.

Hard A$$ award: Kevin. He has no right putting in a complaint. Sophie is of legal age isn't she?

Rites of Manhood award: Nick finally grew a pair and told his mother to go pound sand if she couldn't accept Leanne.

Ivy Tilsley award: Gail peeking out through the nets gave me shivers.

Deja Vu award: Nick told Kylie she'll have to have an abortion. There isn't even a sure chance it's his. At least the dna is similar.

Ironic fail: Norris might think the customer comes first but he's always rude to the Kabin punters.

Make him sweat award: Kylie wouldn't give an inch to Nick who was frantic to make the pregnancy go away.

Fashion shout: White weddings have been bad luck for Leanne, go for the scarlet woman look in blood red! (and a summer dress, to boot!) but then, red is lucky for Chinese weddings, after all!

Lines of the week:
Roy "If you refering to my objection to being a puppet in the Hayley and Mary show..." and "The woman is an intractable tyrant... whose scandalous reference to my Soggy Bottom vol-au-vents was an insult too far"
Dev about Karl "Your partner, your lover, your... drain on your resources?"
Gail had lots of them this week:
"She's a Battersby. Always has been. Always will be"
"I think i got through to Nick" (as Nick was talking to Leanne in the pub)
"You deserve better, and better's not hard to find"
"Most men aren't interested in a woman's foundations, Lewis"
"I'm not just a pretty face" (you can say that again)
"David? The voice of reason? Now we *are* in trouble"
"It's not every day your mother threatens to knock you over and sit on you"
Stella "You took my toast for granted"
Eva "It's your funeral.... sorry! Wedding!" (hahahahaha!)
Kylie "Love's blind" Gail "Have to be deaf and all, mouth on her!"
Roy "Mother was once told that she was an Empress in a former life. It's a notion she's struggled to dismiss"
Mandy "Jenn's not even gay for heavens' sake!" (Phrase of Doom, anyone?)
Mary "I've ruined the wedding" Lewis "Have you slept with the groom?" (No, that was Kylie's misfortune)
Lewis "Cruel to be kind. Time to cut those apron strings" (haven't we been saying that for years?)
Mary to Roy "We mustn't let a French tart come between us!" (Marscapone, that's Italian isn't it?)
Karl to Sunita "I'd rather be hated by her than loved by you!" (Ouch!)
Hayley to Roy "No one ever choked to death swallowing his pride, you know."
Kirk "I get this all the time, people wanting to pick me brains"
Lloyd "I'm sure this will straighten itself out. No pun intended."
Was that a shout to Leanne's past? She looked very like she did in 1997 when she first married Nick.

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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday Comments January 27

Well, Karl is showing his true colours and is worse than the usual feckless fella. Dev took quite a few good shots at Karl's expense to Sunita and Karl was a total twit taking that ladder away from Jason on the roof. And wait! the roof that Jason was on was Number 7 and Curly had an observatory window built into the attic so Jason could have got down through the window if someone had opened it from the inside. Karl is acting worse and worse. I bet he's just trying to make Sunita chuck him out so he can say he wasn't the one to leave her. Passed out on the Rovers back room sofa for the night. How did he get unclothed? Must have done it himself at some point in a drunken haze. Lovely touch, the discussion about toast and then him coming home to toast smoking in the kitchen and a nagging woman (though to be fair, he had it coming) who has no spine or personality left. Did you see her falling for Karl's tidbit (sucking up, more like) and agree to bring him a cuppa?

And what's with the chocolate? Still trying to get back in with Stella? Karl had potential and the actor is good but they've really wasted him just as much as they've ruined Sunita. Karl is really miserable and Stella is never going to take him back and as much as i don't care for her, I hope she never does. Leanne outed his lies as to where he'd been all night and now Sunita has even more reason to be mardy. Dev is just smug, as always. Karl is very lucky he got any food at all, even cold. These two are imploding faster than a super nova. He's thoughtless and he's lazy and he's nasty these days. But then he did find out about the text from Stella that Sunita deleted, manipulating him so that Stella would chuck him out. But she's right, Karl jumped right into it enthusiastically just the same. They're as bad as each other and I want them both to leave and not just him walk out on her, I mean I don't want to see them at all.

Karl slides down the slippery slope. He tries to get back into Stella's good books but she's not having it. Just like I thought, she points out that even if Sunita set a trap, he willingly fell into it. He pretty much shoots himself in the foot by making an idiot of himself at the twins' birthday party, in front of Dev and all. Dev, for once, isn't rubbing Sunita's nose in it, he really is genuinely concerned and can tell that toe rag isn't making her happy.

Tyrone's wedding is growing by the minute now all the factory is invited! Laughed when he asked Kirk to be best man and Kirk reckoned he didn't have to sleep with the maid of honour because he already has.

Leanne wasn't happy to hear about the fight but it helped her make inroads back with Nick. Hearts poured out, cards on the table...but he doesn't want to be second best and he knows he is with her. She's very sorry but a longer case of De-Nile I've never seen. Leanne finally took the ring off and walked out. Kind of amazing to see David actually being a brother to Nick these days. Leanne is going to do what Leanne always does, run away. I wonder if, down deep, she's hoping Nick will prevent her from going or run after her at least. So Leanne is giving Simon a chance to come or go. that answers the question of whether she would just leave and take Simon with her. I forget, does she have a legal document for sole custody or shared? Peter won't agree, though and Carla didn't look too happy with the prospect of having Simon underfoot again.

Nick doesn't want help or comfort from anyone. He wants to stand on his own two feet and put it all behind him. Leanne told him in person she was leaving and she's insisting she loves Nick. His walls are firmly in place around his heart but maybe her apologizies have melted them a little? He's so hurt and feels like second best no matter what she says to the contrary. I didn't think he'd let her go and now Gail wants nothing to do with the re-wedding or Leanne and it looks like she's managed to push her son away for the moment because Nick finally grew a pair! I do understand Gail being wary after how many times Leanne has hurt Nick but she's got to learn to back off or she'll lose him.

For once I can't blame Norris for being crabby about the wedding and Leanne's ever changeable mind. And of course he wants to go to the wedding. He wouldn't miss another scandal! Write white weddings off as a bad plan and go for the scarlet woman look, Leanne. You might have a chance of it lasting if you're honest! Leanne poked her head out the Rovers door and her hair, pulled back and strands down, she looked just like she did in 1997! She sure put Peter on the back foot when she told him she was marrying Nick without a flicker of doubt when he tried to charm her. And really? I liked her dress, red always looks good on her. Wasn't Eva at her bitchy best in the morning? Made me laugh out loud! Later, the honeymooners are back from Paris and Leanne is so happy that she quits her job. Peter did not see that coming! Score one for Leanne. She really must own half though because she tells him he can buy her out or sell up for her half for all she cares and then goes to work for Nick. I wonder in what capacity since Kylie is the assistant manager.

Lewis really is pushing all Gail's buttons and he's working all the angles. She just doesn't see it. Gail is insisting on comforting Nick so Audrey called her on it. Meanwhile, Lewis has admitted he's out to ruin Gail, one way or another. Audrey caught Lewis in the house but he covered admirably. Lewis is playing Gail very well, isn't he? Not jumping between the sheets and holding Gail off. Meanwhile Gail is in full rant, wearing all black, wonderful stuff! Audrey told Gail a think or two and didn't Gail look like thunder!! But in the end, she knows Audrey was right and she doesn't want to lose Nick but Lewis really is undermining her isn't he and he's succeeding in pulling her away from her family little by little.

Kevin went mental over the kiss. I wonder if he overreacted partly because of the embarassment over his own attempt at kissing Jenna. I don't know as he needs to be so overprotective and i don't blame Sophie for wanting him out of it. Naturally Kevin is going to stir up as much trouble as possible, twisting it all. But then, it doesn't seem like Jenna has told her mother that she's gay and this whole storyline appears to have been promoted in order to bring that out. Kevin put in a complaint against Jenna but i don't think he's got a right. Sophie's over 18, a legal adult. If anyone was going to put in a complaint it would have to be her, wouldn't it? Ryan seems to be very much a spare part these days, just hanging on Sophie's words.

By the time Craig nearly got up the ladder it was nearly dark and by that time Karl could have had it done. Sunita wasn't best pleased to hear about his scheming but Craig got away with the money and no work.

Hayley's back! Roy's trying to buy flowers but hates to pay Dev's prices! Isn't it nice to see Roy and Hayley connect again. And she's intent on fixing things between Roy and Mary and step one is getting Roy to help with the wedding baking. Looks like Roy and Mary didn't manage to stay civil. She does have a way of irritating the most patient of people. Roy has put his back out and Fiz can't keep up. Funny how Roy never has a problem when he's on his own but Fiz just doesn't have the groove i guess. Roy is finally persuaded to let Mary come back and help and it's a rocky go at first. You can practically cut it with a knife at times.

Rob's "fur coat, no knickers" is a fancy car!!! Eva is fizzing in her own misery in the factory, watching the clock. I loved Rita's little speech to Kylie but then Kylie wondering if she was being called a rabbit! Kirsty rubs Fiz's nose in it, in the cafe with Julie when she goes on and on about her upcoming wedding. (funny how sometimes a low level conversation is overheard at the counter and other times it isn't). Tina is trying to keep Fiz's spirits up but it's difficult.

Kylie is not having a good day either. Off tasting milk struck a chord. She's pregnant! Must have had the same thing happen last time! At least they addressed the birth control pill issue, she missed a couple. What a wedding gift to give Nick! Roy was persuaded to help Mary in the Bistro kitchen. We didn't get to see the actual ceremony this time and went straight to the reception. I suppose the ceremony would have been a bit of an anticlimax. Nice little speech she gave. I really hope she can finally shake off Peter. There has been enough of her back and forth with him. Anyway they're married and David made a really lovely speech full of brotherly love. *That's* all going to change isn't it?

Unfortunately, having Kylie looking doe-eyed at him from the other side of the room didn't help matters much and I can't believe he had the temerity to insist she have an abortion because it might be his baby! He hasn't really changed at all has he? Selfish as always. Whether she got pregnant or not isn't going to make David's reaction any worse. Or maybe it will with the added insult to injury of her having Nick's baby when she wouldn't have his. He'd be like that wouldn't he? Kylie probably shouldn't have told Eva that she was pregnant. Anyway she says she's going to get rid of it and I bet Nick won't feel one stick of guilt over it, much like when he pressured Leanne into the same, years ago.

Nick is frantic with not knowing if Kylie is going to succumb to his pressure tactics. Poor kid she's really in a tough spot, one of her own making to be sure (yes i know, it takes two, both of whom could have said no and backed off but she's the one who's got to carry the baby) She makes him sweat even though she plans to do it. Eva tries to talk her into at least talking to David first but she won't and in the end, David, in an obviously contrived plot point, finds the stick in the rubbish. Cue David running around trying to find her and Eva spilling the beans.

Norris has further reason to be a pain in the arse when Sophie comes in but Rita tells her straight. (no pun intended) She knows Sophie isn't lying and if Jenna is saying that Sophie is lying in order to cover her own secrets then Rita's right. She does deserve to lose her job! Lloyd is now starting to ask questions but Mandy doesn't see anything out of the ordinary that Jenna never has had time for boys/men. Sophie has put the idea in Lloyd's ear now, though. Jenna out and out denied it when Lloyd asked. Very defensively. And she looks very much guilty.

Rob knew Carla and Michelle were out so he sneaks in and gets his fingers in the laptop, up to no good, no doubt. Carla doesn't trust her one little bit and she shouldn't. Now's she's had to sell her knickers to some bloke named Nobby who has a market stall, which made me laugh. Carla keeps losing business and can't figure out what's going on. Never mind, she's got another client to take a bid to later and later, finds that Rob has got their first!

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Actress who played Rovers Return barmaid dies, age 41

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2013, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Actress Sophiya Haque, who played Rovers Return barmaid Poppy Morales on Coronation Street, has died earlier today. She was just 41 years old. Sophiya fell ill before Christmas and was told just days ago she had cancer.

While undergoing tests, Ms Haque, developed a clot on her lungs and died this morning.

Her agent Oliver Thomson broke down in tears today as he told of his shock at losing “such a wonderful friend”.

He said: “Sophiya was a wonderful actress, a wonderful client but so much more than that a wonderful friend. She was adored by everyone she worked with and will be deeply missed.”

She was currently performing the role of Sylvia in Privates on Parade for the Michael Grandage Company.

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Krissi Bohn - men's private parts and Coronation Street

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog January 2013, reposted to this blog with permission.)

There's a good interview in today's Sunday Mirror with Krissi Bohn, who plays Corrie newcomer Jenna Kamara.

Before she landed the role as Jenna in Corrie, Krissi worked in the NHS.  She says: “I don’t know how to put it ­politely, but I was looking at bums and willies. My acting skills came in very handy. The first time I had to say, ‘Lovely sir, if you’d just like to take your trousers and underwear down for me,’ was hard. In my head I was screaming, ‘Aagh, willies!’ because I’m still a ­childish person who can’t say rude words without laughing.” I can hardly read that sentence without giggling, too.

In real life Krissi spent the first 18 months of her life in an orphanage in Brazil before being adopted by white parents in ­Cornwall. She grew up with a younger brother Toby. Her mum Helen works with dyslexic adults and dad Mike is a ­retired council manager.

Krissi tells how she longed to be an actress but after struggling for six years, she realised her career was stalling.But having landed the Corrie job, she says: “On the Wednesday I was looking at men’s private parts and then on Friday I was in the Rovers Return, the most iconic pub in the world.”

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Battersby devil you know

(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

As Leanne Battersby floats around Weatherfield, teary eyed, torn between two lovers (feelin' like a fool), it's hard for us viewers not to sympathise with her.  She's a lovely girl, and deserves to be happy.

How quickly we forget.  Leanne clattered into the Street in 1997 as a purple-haired, thieving ball of anger and violence, wearing crop tops and mini-skirts - Slapper Spice, if you will.  The Battersbys were Corrie's version of Emmerdale's Dingles, a batch of scraggy, screwed-up misfits whose entire purpose was to wind up the rest of the Street.  If they'd arrived twenty years earlier, Ivy Tilsley would have been stood on her doorstep in a cross-over pinny, pursing her lips and calling them no better than they should be; as it was we were left with Ken Barlow sighing and biting the end of his glasses in exasperation.

Leanne was a particularly unpleasant trollop.  While Toyah had secret reserves of heart and brains, Leanne was sharp as flint and unashamedly manipulative.  She clattered into Nicky Tilsley (v. 2.0), attracted to his washboard abs and lack of mental faculties, and soon they were hightailing it to Gretna Green to get married.  They returned to join Ashley in number 4, that weird ragbag of young house mates that were part of the Street's attempt to be all Millennial and with-it.  Scenes in the house were mostly notable for being played against eye-searing wallpaper in loud clothing, interspersed with shouting and screaming and Nicky taking his shirt off; after all that we were quite glad when the show cut to Norris Cole whinging about his bunions.

Leanne became pregnant, following the soap law that no-one under the age of 20 has ever been shown that video of Claire Rayner putting a condom on a cucumber; she thought it would cement her relationship with Nicky, but the idea of being tied into the Battersby family until the end of time was too much for him and he pressured her into an abortion.  It signalled the beginning of the end for their relationship, not helped by Gail hovering behind Nicky and being so overprotective it made the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats.  Since his choice was a life with a girl who looked like a member of Vanilla (the worst girl band ever) or Diana Rigg in Mother Love, Nicky did the only sensible thing and fled to Canada.

Leanne's heartbreak was soon quashed by a two thousand pound pay off from Gail.  This went straight up her nose, as she developed one of those instant cocaine habits that only exist in soaps.  If cocaine really was as freely available and addictive as our nation's continuing dramas would have us believe, you'd have to shake the drug off every tenner in your wallet.  Hamstrung by the fact that Ofcom won't let you actually snort coke before nine pm, Leanne was left wandering around the set looking wide eyed and slightly more scraggy than usual, which is to say, very scraggy indeed.  She finally ended up being beaten up and put in hospital and fled to London to be a policewoman at Sun Hill.

Her return to the show a few years later was as a stripper, accidentally performing for her Dad; Les's "get them out for the lads!" attitude took a sudden turn to the puritan, and he hauled her back to Coronation Street.  She moved in with demonic Hobbit Janice, and the two of them formed a vortice of spite, circling Underworld with tongues sharper than a samurai sword.  Leanne finally got her claws into Danny Baldwin and they started their own game of The Chase, with the top prize being Mike Baldwin's will.  Having an affair with a married man (while simultaneously sleeping with his son) and then swindling a man suffering from Alzheimer's did nothing for her reputation as a stand-up citizen.  Just when you thought she couldn't get any lower, she burrowed through the cobbles and found a new level of horrible behaviour, turning on Danny and blackmailing him, then turning him in when he refused to pay her.  She was eventually driven out of town to clean some of the poison out of her system.

The real reason for her disappearance was that Jane Danson was off having a baby, something you may have been clued into if you'd spotted all the times she walked around Underworld with a massive clipboard in front of her stomach.  It's an irony of the show that the thoroughly nasty Leanne is played by the utterly lovely Jane who is, by all reports, a delight to be around.  I can't quite love her unreservedly, because in real life she's married to Peter from Brookside (Robert Beck), a man who played quite a prominent role in my teenage sexuality, and so my happiness for her is tinged with intense jealousy.

When Jane had finished dropping her sprog, Leanne was ready to return to the Street, this time gussied up in power suits and flashing her wallet around.  Janice, who is impressed by anyone who's able to iron their clothes before they put them on, was soon following her around devotedly.  Her devotion took a bit of a hit when she discovered that Leanne was, in fact, a whore.  It seemed that after years of handing herself out on a plate for free, Ms Battersby had finally clicked that she could make a few bob out of it, and was now a high-class escort.  Well, as high-class as Leanne could ever get.

By this time, Underworld had a new owner, and soon she was in bed with gruff Manc hearthrob Liam Connor.  This proved awkward when she turned up for a client and it turned out to be his brother Paul.  She gave up the hooking after that, parleying her hostess skills into the rather more wholesome role of restaurant owner.  All was going well until Paul Connor had a mental breakdown, locked her in the boot of his car and then smashed it into a truck; experts have termed this storyline as "bonkers" and it tends to be glossed over these days.

Leanne was left lumbered with a failing restaurant.  Now that the whole neighbourhood knew how she'd got the money to buy it, no-one was very keen to sample her dough balls, and she was up to her elbows in debt.  A normal person would declare bankruptcy, or go to their creditors for a bridging agreement; Leanne decided to seduce a minor Duckworth into burning the thing to the ground for the insurance.  Say what you like about her, she never does things by half.

She dragged herself from the flaming wreckage, dusted the soot out of her hair, and set about a relationship with Peter Barlow.  An alcoholic bigamist and a criminal prostitute - it was a relationship crafted by the Gods, and soon they were engaged.  Leanne's propensity for self-sacrifice meant she couldn't stop herself from rekindling her romance with Nick(y) (v. 3.0), mainly by having mucky sex on the ground of the Bistro while pretending to be doing a stock take.  She put the affair to one side in time for a tram to fall on Peter's head; their tender wedding took place against the beep of life support machines rather than church bells, but at least she was an honest to goodness married woman now, and her rehabilitation began.

As it turned out, when you gave Leanne a chance, she could actually be a perfectly decent, almost pleasant human being.  Being in close contact with Simon Barlow obviously helped; it is surely impossible to be nasty around The World's Cutest Child.  Joining the Barlow family made her look better by association; next to the heinous tornado of spite that is Tracy, Leanne looked like Princess Diana.  She also acquired a mother at this time, the quasi-Northern Stella; we all tried hard to put the image of Les Battersby grunting away on top of the fragrant Michelle Collins out of our head, but it kept coming back, unbidden.  Poor Michelle - the only woman to be knocked up by both a Battersby and Ian Beale.  Presumably when she's finished on Corrie she'll move over to Emmerdale  to have a baby with Eric Pollard.

Leanne was initially troubled by her new mother, not least because she looked an awful lot like Cindy Beale.  She eventually came round when she realised she had literally no other relatives left within a two hundred mile radius; plus Stella owned a pub, so she was always guaranteed a job if (/when) things got tough.  She also acquired a half-sister, Eva, who proved that being devious and self-interested is clearly a genetic trait as she could give Leanne a run for her money on that score.

Peter finally abandoned Leanne for Carla Connor; I know we should judge him for this, but it's Carla, the most awesome woman to clatter down the cobbles in stilettos, so it's hard to be too cruel.  Leanne responded by returning to her vindictive ways, passing Simon back and forth between them and whispering bile in his ear on every visit.  It culminated in Simon being dropped in the middle of Victoria station and being asked to run to whichever parent he liked most, like he was a cocker spaniel on the common.  Leanne won that battle, and Peter vanished to California; he returned at Christmas to interfere with her attempt to become a Tilsley for the second time.  Frankly he should be rewarded for that alone.

Now Leanne's bouncing round the Street, looking desperate and arranging weddings without any certainty that the groom will turn up; it's nice to know that she can still be stupidly rash when she wants to be.  I love Leanne, even if she's had most of her hard edges knocked off her - I liked her best as a prostitute, because who doesn't love a tart with a heart of gold?  I can't imagine where her life on the Street will take her next; I hope it involves burning the bookies down for the insurance, not least because its decor is a nightmare (what's with those weird origami shapes on the back wall?).  Good luck Leanne; you'll probably need it.

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There's been a Corrie murrderr! (Spoiler re character leaving)

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2013.)

Warning.... This has a spoiler about a character leaving and also speculation on how that could happen...

As much as this Corrie fan enjoyed the scintillating subplot the other evening over who would clean out Sunita's blocked guttering (euphemism?) I personally can't wait for this once  sweet, normal, well-rounded character to depart from our screens.

We know it will happen at some point this year however what, this concerned blogger wonders, will mark her exit? Given Sunita's storylines since she returned in 2009 it could go either way - from the mundane and seriously humdrum to out and out lunacy which could only normally be explained by a bang to the head. My prediction is she will finally throw in the towel with the dreadful Karl and plead for Devendra to take her back. Obviously this will end badly and she will leave the street without a lover. Will she take little Aldi and Netto with her when she leaves? Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares? At least if she does she will be doing her bit for the environment as there will be two less Corrie children to be sent upstairs.

So I'm going for a predictable end to this wholly unedifying story. However, if I had my way this rubbish would end with all guns blazing. The writers turfed believability out with the barm cakes when they gave Sunita's personality a complete transformation overnight. (Was there something in the coffee at the story conference that day?) 

As a Scotsman I am still mourning the loss of Taggart from our screens. Let's face it, it gave regular work to many Scottish thespians in between panto seasons. So I am proposing a lovely Coronation Street / Taggart cross-over episode which would clean this mess of a storyline up in a tartan-themed bloodbath. Sadly the late-lamented Mark McManus is no longer around to utter menacingly "if ewes dinnae shut it, you'll be wearin' yer baws as earings"* but there is always Blythe Duff, who I am sure would be only too happy to lend a hand. There was also that little gay cop who was very gay but never mentioned it. 

So tell us the plot, I hear you cry? Ok, then. The Krankies, finally free from a festive season of Glaswegian pantomime with John Barrowman (this time it was he who fell off a prop), arrive in Weatherfield to seek revenge on DI Robbie Ross for abandoning Glasgow, ditching his Scottish accent and assuming the false identity of Karl Munro. Unfortunately Jeanette's aim isn't what it was and they take out Sunita be mistake. Bucking the trend for those who live on in a street despite having suffered endless tragedies there, Dev decides to move on, taking Aldi and Netto with him. Who knows, in time he may learn to love again, adding to his brood of mostly forgotten children with baby Lidl.

Coming face to face with The Krankies brings DI Ross back to reality. He returns to Glasgow immediately to reprise Taggart with his old colleagues, agreeing to squeeze in a Christmas 2013 panto with Clare Grogan and the woman who ran the shop in Take The High Road. Right, I'm off for a packet of Tunnocks Teacakes and a quick Gay Gordons. 

Oh, and by the way Corrie: next time you cast a Scottish actor, please let them speak in their native tongue. In the Great Britain of 2013, people do occasionally migrate. 

*Do contact me if you require a translation

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Friday, 25 January 2013

Conversation Street podcast 24

Gemma and Michael's podcast for the episodes in Canada that aired up to last night can be heard here. Don't worry, they don't do spoilers so you won't hear anything you don't want to!

This week Michael and Gemma talk about Leanne and Nick's ups and downs, Kylie's pregnancy, Karl whom we all hate! There's no profile this week, we hear about their visit to Manchester and the Corriefest at the pub, Lass O'Gowrie. It sounds like a great visit. There's a spoiler about a character leaving nearer the end in the news section. If you haven't already heard, you might want to avoid that bit.

You can also subscribe to them on iTunes, Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter (@conversationstr).

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