Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Y Viva Corrie!

(This post was originally posted by Clinkers (David) on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2014.)

It's almost the height of summer and as usual, very few of our Corrie favourites are taking a break. True, Lloyd has shuffled off to the Med with his sad sack of a daughter but other than that, there's no sound of bucket on spade clanging on the ginnels of Weatherfield. Sun tan lotion, big novels and swimsuits are not being packed for a fortnight in the sun.

Forty years ago though, in the summer of 1974, a bunch of Rovers' regulars headed for Spain and a break from all things cobble-related. The anniversary gives us a chance to peer with interest at this rarity - Corrie in foreign climes. It was certainly an ambitious move for the time and was championed by incoming producer Susi Hush.

With the majority of the main female players in Majorca, there was a very different feel to the Street. For a start, Blanche Hunt was running the Rovers, shuffling around in a dressing gown with a fag hanging out of her mouth and commenting "ooh, I'm a lazy slut at heart". She also flirted quite opening with a twinkly-eyed Len Fairclough.

Elsewhere, the rather unappealing Hopkins family were ruling the roost at the Corner Shop. A dithering Nora Batty bantered on with Minnie Caldwell about chicken soup and the latter was soon handed a tin with the Heinz label blacked out. Those were the days!

The menfolk seem to be lost, embattled and forlorn. Hapless Jerry Booth struggled with an early start at the Kabin. Ernie Bishop found himself bullied into having dinner with the mad, bellowing Welsh granny at the shop, look you.

Over in Majorca events were being recorded for posterity on weak and watery film. There was a plethora of summer frocks on show, courtesy of Annie, Betty and Emily. A skinny Deirdre bounced around in a bikini and at one point, Mavis drifted into a scene dressed like a downmarket Pierrot doll. Best of all though was Rita who segued nicely from horrific green swimming cap to massive wig to rollers and then back to the wig. Someone was having a laugh.

The balcony scenes were pure gold. Hilda, at her demented best, screeched "Y viva Espana" to little applause. Annie banged on about her skin tone and 'exotic ancestry' in light of Rita's blistered bosom. Bet, as usual, headed for oblivion with an unsavoury man but in comparison with Rita's squeeze, he was Steve McQueen. Yes, it took Rita all of eight seconds to jump at the chance of a romp with possibly the sleaziest creature ever to stalk a beach. The sight of her, the wig and Cro-magnon man lolloping across the sand was enough to regurgitate your paella.

Back in Weatherfield there was a somewhat useless sub-story involving two young blokes with bad hair. Planning a robbery of the warehouse, they got horribly caught up in some Acorn Antiques production values which saw one of them holding a key to the camera until someone shouted 'action!'

Overall, it's an odd little episode. Characters like Stan Ogden and Minnie Caldwell seem a bit lost and the shop seems strange with Nora Batty, the bloke from Please Sir! and that human foghorn blethering on about evening meals. At a time when many Brits were taking advantage of the burgeoning package holiday market though, the Majorca scenes were majestic in their simplicity. The hotel was not too over-the-top and the holiday experience was believable enough. It was fun to see such well-known faces in new surroundings, away from the day-to-day realities of back street life. From a 2014 viewpoint though, it seems unlikely that we would ever see Liz, Carla, Fiz and Leanne all sharing a villa in Marbella. The sense of community that cut through the social strata of 1970s life allowed the likes of Hilda to holiday with Annie. Twenty first century Corrie would never dare go there.

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