(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in November 2014.)
There was a point during Monday's Corrie when I genuinely hoped that my house would fall into a hellmouth and I'd be damned to an eternity toiling in the sulphur mines of Beelzebub; at least it would have meant I wouldn't have to watch Maria and Luke trying to buy a car any more. They were painful, unfunny scenes that should really have had a laugh track layered over the top so that we knew these were COMEDY. I like Luke, but his sudden grumpiness seemed out of character; Maria continues to be a hairstyle in search of a personality; and the guest actor ramped his "funny acting" up to levels Norman Wisdom would have found over the top. Why was he carrying a pipe? Why did a diabetic coma involve him shouting non-sequiters? Why would a barely conscious man pick up his car keys? As for Luke carrying Maria because her heels hurt... I'm sure we were meant to be rolling around on the floor with mirth, but frankly, no.
And then Les Dennis turned up drunk. In just a few blissful moments, Michael was funny, charming and in character. It was a reminder that Les Dennis is a very talented, very experienced comedian, and that Corrie really hasn't been using him to his full powers. Over the past few months Michael's been full of angst, guilt and anger. He's moped around because he thinks he's dying. He's tried to break up with Gail for her own good.
Anyone could do that. There are thousands of jobbing actors out there who could play a serious, down beat man. Coronation Street cast Les Dennis though. Use him! Give him more comedy! I understand Les probably wants to prove that he's a proper actor and not just a game show host trying a change of tack - much like when Matthew Kelly gave up presenting for acting, and immediately played Lenny in Of Mice and Men and a serial killer - but it just leaves me frustrated. I'm not saying that Michael should suddenly break into long missed characters from the Les Dennis Laughter Show, but a bit of jolliness wouldn't go amiss. Craig Charles manages to be funny and heart-warming whenever he's on screen - he's so naturally charming, it's almost enough to make us like the pestilent Andrea.
Of course, in an ideal world, Michael would get a job in the Kabin alongside Rita and would say "I don't really know" every other episode. I expect La Knox would put quite a firm stamp on that idea (she still hasn't shared the screen with Les; the Kabin is only ever staffed by Norris when he pops in) but we can dream. In the real world, I'd just like Les to be allowed to make us laugh again.
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