Monday, 28 July 2014

Why Corrie still needs a b*tch and a busybody

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2014, reposted with permission.)

I think we all agree that these days the Corrie cast is pretty big. While I have commented elsewhere that this has both positive and negative effects on Corrie's output, I can't help but think there are two main classic Corrie "types" that are still missing from the 2014 line up.

Yes, I think there is still room for two more characters. Firstly, i think Coronation Street needs a wonderful old busybody (I'm not counting Norris Cole here, who for some reason or another only appears fleetingly these days). We need a good old gossip, someone who embroils themselves with the latest goings on and scandals, but also has a heart of gold and a touch of vulnerability. 

We haven't seen the likes of this characterisation really since we lost the superb Maggie Jones who of course played Deirdre's mum Blanche Hunt so wonderfully on and off for more than thirty years. One of my all time favourite battle-axes, although I hesitate to use that term for her, was the glorious Phyllis Pearce played by the redoubtable Jill Summers between 1982 and 1996. Most of her time onscreen was spent chasing poor old Percy Sugden but looking back on it, it was amazing just how much Jill crammed into those performances. Phyllis, with her blue rinse, throaty delivery and canny observations was salt of the earth.

I always remember a scene in the cafe with Amanda Barrie (Alma). Phyllis was bemoaning the ageing process and had the wonderful line "I'm not sure who that old woman is staring back when I look in the mirror, but it isn't me". God bless her. While we'll never have another Phyllis or Blanche, there is room for someone of their ilk.

I also think Corrie needs a right good old-fashioned b*tch to liven things up. Yes we have Tracy Barlow but that act is growing more than a little tired. Carla can be bitchy when she wants to be as can both Leanne and Kylie but what I think we need is someone who comes in like a whirlwind, creates endless amounts of havoc and then takes off leaving the Rovers regulars wondering what's hit 'em. 

My own personal favourite was the incredible force of nature - Tanya Pooley. Tanya was the Cruella Deville of the Rovers Return back in the early 1990s. She may not have stayed for long, but by gum she left her mark. She became romantically entangled with both Des Barnes and his boss, made the lovely Raquel's life a misery and got on the wrong side of Bet Gilroy. Tanya famously fled Weatherfield with Bet's trucker boyfriend Charlie after burning one too many bridges. I'll always remember Bet sitting in the Rovers back room, clutching her framed photo of Annie Walker and desperately trying to hold it together.

So there we go, two very different kinds of classic Corrie women. The strength of character, the vim and the sass has lingered on long after their departures. I say it's time for a bit more of that kind of class down Weatherfield way. 

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