Sunday, 11 January 2015

Remembering Corrie's Poison Ivy

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

Sadly, these days Lynne Perrie is mainly remembered for events off screen rather than her performances as Ivy Tilsley in Coronation Street over a period of more than twenty years.

I confess that Ivy used to scare me whenever she appeared when I was a child. She was normally mid-rant by that stage so that explains it. As an adult though, I do actually look back on her performances fairly fondly. Whether it was her role as the militant factory worker alongside cronies Vera and Ida or as the Tilsley matriarch, defending Brian and suspecting and disapproving of Gail, Ivy was always an intensely believable character.

While Ivy was a Corrie baddie, she was never a pantomime villain, bumping people off or setting fire to factories (she left that to second husband, Don). While she could be extremely annoying, difficult and troublesome, I think the main strength that came with the character was that everyone watching knew an Ivy, whether as a family member, a colleague or a neighbour. 

Ivy's early years were mainly based in Baldwin's Casuals, taking on Mike Baldwin and conspiring with life long friend Vera Duckworth. However it was once Ivy's family had been introduced in 1979 that the character really came of age. I was never a fan of Brian, the Corrie equivalent of a week's worth of hypocritical wet washing, however I did love her relationship with first husband Bert. Bert was the everyman of Weatherfield, providing a much needed antidote to Ivy's more abrasive behaviour. From the off, Ivy was the archetypical pushy, protective mother. Nothing would ever be good enough for her Brian.

Some of my favourite Ivy moments involved her relationship with daughter in law Gail. Gail brought out the worst in Ivy and Ivy often brought out the best in Gail. Gail was stronger in those days, standing up for herself and battling Ivy's old fashioned ideas. After the deaths of both Bert and Brian, Ivy clung more and more to her religious faith. She caused endless ructions over Gail's relationship with toy boy Martin Platt, the birth of their son David and their subsequent marriage and Martin's adoption of the children. Brilliant stuff and as always, very believable.

For years every Christmas Ivy and Don and Alf and Audrey would bicker over their family festive plans. Audrey, always at her most flighty and toffee-nosed, looked down (literally) on Ivy. The pair provided a great contrast. Sadly, Ivy's last years in Corrie were relentlessly depressing. Her marriage to Don broke down, she turned to the booze and became increasingly delusional. I'd much rather remember Ivy in her meddling, mother in law from hell prime. 

I wonder what Ivy would make of her family today? Gail, the widow of a serial killer, shacked up with a man who broke into her house. Sarah-Louise, pregnant at thirteen. Nick, ten years older than he's meant to be with a new head and David, married to a former cage dancer with a drug habit. Almost makes you wish she was still resident at 5 Coronation Street, doesn't it?

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