Tuesday 31 March 2015

Introducing Lucy Fallon, the new Bethany Platt

Lucy Fallon
(This post was originally posted by Ruth Owen on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2015.)

 Lucy Fallon, the new Bethany Platt, will very soon burst onto our screens, and I use the word ‘burst’ advisedly.

Lucy is actually 19 but is playing 14 year old Bethany. I met Lucy at Media City in mid-February. Our interview took place in The (newly furnished) Bistro, which was a treat.

What was striking from the off was that Lucy actually looks like Tina O’Brien, also known as Sarah Louise. What’s more, the press officer with her pointed out that even Lucy’s mannerisms are similar to Tina O’Brien’s. Some uncannily excellent casting there! Lucy has a 6 month contract with options -  options unexplained.

How do you feel about playing the new wild child on the cobbles?

Oh it’s just great! She’s really good fun to play. She’s feisty, headstrong and she is going to cause some trouble. 

What acting have you done so far?

I’ve done a bit. A bit of panto as a dancer, that sort of thing but this is my very first television role. I have had private drama lessons at home in Blackpool. I’ve been taking drama classes since I was 8. I’ve been involved in drama festivals at home in Blackpool and I was at college doing Performing Arts.  

Where were you when you heard you had got the part?

I was in bed! My phone rang and it was my agent telling me I had got the part! She carried on talking but I wasn’t really listening because I kept asking if she was sure I had got the part. I’d auditioned for it the first time it came up and didn’t get it. Then it was up again and so I auditioned again. I was thrilled but could hardly believe it.

How was your first day on the set?

It was great. I was made to feel really welcome. I share a dressing room with
Tisha, who plays Steph and she was so sweet to me. She rally took me under her wing. The Platt family too were just great, especially Helen Worth, who plays Gail. Jack (David) and Les (Michael) are hilarious.

Why has Bethany decided to come back to Weatherfield? 

Well, she feels she’s not getting much attention from her mum and so she decides to catch a plane to Weatherfield and stir things up a bit! And she does! In her first scene she is arguing with a taxi driver, saying she has got no money to pay the fare and she tells the taxi driver that her gran is dying, so he lets her off. Very soon afterwards she meets Andy and makes him carry her bags, then goes into The Rovers and starts drinking – alcohol. She is wearing red lipstick and has very dark eyes. Gail arrives and she is absolutely furious! Bethany also goes shoplifting but that is a way of getting attention, though she throws the top she was going to steal on the floor, before leaving the shop.

Much of Bethany’s behavior is designed to shake things up and get a reaction, especially from her mum, including telling Jason that her mum, Sarah Louise is still keen on him.

Tell us a little about your private life and your family.

Well, I’ve got 2 older sisters –Rachel is 32 and Laura is 30, but I’m not spoilt because I’m the youngest! I live with my mum and dad, Angela and Andy in Blackpool. I have worked in Subway, Next, New Look and a nightclub.

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Paula Lane returns to filming as Kylie on Coronation Street

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Paula Lane, who plays Kylie Platt, is back at work on Coronation Street.  The official Coronation Street website at itv.com/corrie tweeted a picture of Paula as Kylie back on the set today, March 25th.

Paula has returned from maternity leave after giving birth to a baby boy on New Year's Eve 2014.

Kylie left Weatherfield on Christmas Day following a row with husband David over her drug addiction and her continued involvement with ex-boyfriend Callum Logan.

With Bethany back on the Street and Sarah returning soon, the Platt house is getting mighty full. Might be time for an extension to the house - or for someone to move in with their gran! 

Glenda Young 
Flaming Nora Blog / Twitter 

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Conversation Street Podcast 141

Gemma and Michael's podcast for the episodes in Canada that aired (up to last night's Canadian Corrie) can be heard here.

This week, Katy leaves Weatherfield with Joseph, breaking Chesney's heart. Gail gets ensnared in the web even deeper when Gavin dies and Auntie Barbara shows up. Bethany Platt arrives, causing a few waves. Sharif discovers the plot and gains a plot. As does Roy. The character profile is Katy Armstrong.

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Meet the new Bethany Platt (Take Two, slight spoiler)

(This post was originally posted by Duncan Lindsay on the Coronation Street Blog in January 2015.)

Coronation Street have today unveiled their brand new Bethany Platt, as seen in this picture. She will be played by Lucy Fallon.  This is Lucy's first TV role.

Previously, the show was embroiled in awkwardness after the previous actress it cast in the role emerged as older than her casting agent had said she would be.

In coming weeks, Bethany will show up on the cobbles and be taken for drinks by Andy, who thinks she is older.  Having run away from life in Milan, Bethany's mum, Sarah, will have no choice but to follow her daughter to Weatherfield.

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Monday 30 March 2015

Taxi for Armstrong

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in April 2014.)

So all of a sudden, out of the blue, we hear the news that actress Georgia May Foote is to leave Coronation Street before the end of the year. (ed. note: Yes, Katy has just left the Street. This blog post was written last year when the spoiler first came out)

While I'll not shed any tears when Katy Armstrong leaves Weatherfield, it does seem a bit odd given that a long-term future for the character was suggested not that long ago.

Young Katy has been one of my least favourite characters for quite some time. While not being quite as surly as the increasingly irritating, dour Sophie or quite as gobby as the increasingly unpleasant Michelle, Katy has been a quiet, background source of annoyance for a while.

The character has been a spare part since her split with Chesney. The arrival of sweet, kindly, soap making Sinead has left Ms Armstrong redundant. Seeing nice but dull Chesney with Sinead makes you realise what a poor match Chesney and Katy were in the first place. To my mind the character was ruined as soon as the pair were saddled with their hasty relationship and parenthood. This aged them overnight and neither character has been able to come back from that abyss of old before their time responsibility. 

What made things worse was the further about turn which saw devoted young mum Katy turn trampy overnight with the deeply unsuitable, beige, characterless Ryan Connor. That entire storyline was the ultimate in filler tedium and it was an immense relief when Ryan was packed off somewhere or other for some deeply vacuous, spurious reason. At the time my only complaint was that he didn't take Katy with him.

In recent times Katy has been a background presence in the seemingly never-ending spiral of gloom that is the Armstrong-Windass family. Every so often she would chirrup up to pass on some lame piece of advice to someone who wasn't listening or compliment Valerie "gob on a stick" Phelan on her dĂ©colletage. 

While I'm a fan of Debbie Rush (Anna) and Mikey North (Gary), the over-abundance of the Armstrong-Windass clan has been quite overpowering of late, so as far as I'm concerned one less is no bad thing. Out of them all, Katy is the easiest to dispense with. Steph has come along with bags of personality and we are soon to meet Kal Nazir's daughter, Alya, so there will be no shortage of younger female characters.  

Despite my feelings towards Katy, I do wish Georgia May Foote all the best for the future.

So what do you think about the decision to wave goodbye to Katy Armstrong? Will you miss her? What would you like her exit storyline to be?

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The All New Bethany Platt

(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in November 2014, reposted with permission.)

I was sitting at home earlier, thinking about Sarah-Louise Platt.  I wasn't keen on her before she left for Italy, I have to be honest.  She'd become a whining, aggravating character who somehow made me sympathise with David Platt.  I was struggling to think what her return would mean for the show, and all I could come up with was a long drawn out sigh.

This lead me to think about Bethany Britney Platt.  She was barely a character before - there to wander around the house and occasionally get put in extreme peril, but not really do anything of interest.  It occurred to me that when she comes back she'll be nearly fifteen, and my heart sank.  She's going to come back as a wild child, isn't she?

There's a certain kind of teenage girl who the producers like to have in the cast.  For a while it was Candace, then Sarah-Lou took over the part; then there was Rosie, and then it was the soon to depart Katie.  It's a girl who's incredibly attractive, but who combines this with a certain innocence.  It's the kind of pretty girl who is much loved by gutter tabloids, the ones who rail against paedophiles on page 5 then have a former child star on page 6 with a caption like "look who's growing up!".

There are many attractive girls on the Street right now, but none of them fill this niche.  Eva and Michelle are too old; Carla and Steph are too feisty; Alya is a Muslim and so unlikely to rock up in a pair of hotpants and a boob tube.  Cast an eighteen year old actress who's willing to pose in a lads mag oiled up with salad dressing and sticking her finger in her mouth and you're sorted.

Plus, Bethany will probably be a minx.  This is based on precedent; if a character goes away and comes back they usually return as an absolute nightmare (see: Todd, Amber, Ryan).  What's the betting that plain, ordinary little Bethany Platt has turned into a tornado of craziness while she's been away?  The kind of girl who shoplifts, necks vodka shots, and flirts outrageously with anything in trousers.  The kind of girl who's going to cause her mum and her gran and her great-grandmother a lot of agony.  I very much doubt she's going to return as a bookish, plain girl with glasses and a fondness for Mahler.  I'd love that; imagine the Edina/Saffy dynamics as this serious young woman is introduced into the Platt madhouse.

I shan't hold my breath.  I bet Zoo magazine has already got its photo request in.

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Corrie Canada weekly awards for March 23 - 27

Perfect Timing award: Michael "We don't want to tempt fate, do we?" (just as Gail sees a memorial to Gavin Rodwell in the newspaper)

Wrong end of the Stick Award: Sean calling Emily a bigot because he thought she disapproved of having a gay vicar.

Result award: After all that angst, turns out Sharif's chickens were laying eggs behind the fence!

Subterfuge award: Sinead talked Kirk into springing her from the hospital.

Overkill award: Ok, maybe getting Sinead back to hospital in an ambulance might be warranted in case she hurt her back again, but I really don't think they needed the siren.

You Changed Your Tune: on Monday, All Katy's family still wanted her to stay. On Wednesday they were defending her decision to go.

Matchmaker award: Emily, for getting Sean and Billy talking again.

Rigged award: Never in my life have I seen a chair fall completely apart like that on in the cab office.

Crocodile tears award: Bethany laying one on the cab driver.

Ironic award: Gavin died of a heart attack, same condition Michael has only he wasn't so lucky to catch it in time.

Illogical, Captain: Why does nobody ever arrange for time off to actually go to the airport to see people off?

Lines of the week:
Eileen "If I'm going to scare him off, I'd like to scare him off on my own"
Chesney "Katy's thinking about what's best for her not what's best for him (Joseph)" (That's true, but if she can make a better life for herself, Joseph benefits)
Callum to Gail "Maybe you can arm wrestle for him (with his mother). Winner takes Max."
Gail to Andy "He's not your dad. He deserves better" (ouch, but true)
Emily to Billy "I think the expression is, 'Get over yourself'"
Katy to Owen "Maybe if she was allowed to come back sooner, I wouldn't be flying off to Portugal" (that's you told)
Kal "Apparently we've got gorilla chickens"
Michelle "I'm a tasteless Philistine, right?" (because she doesn't "get" Northern Soul)
Steve "I'm depressed, not deluded"
Bethany about her Gran "She could only communicate by blinking. Once for yes, twice for no, which made it really difficult trying to talk to her over the phone."

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Sunday 29 March 2015

British Soap Awards gets rid of 'sexiest' male and female awards

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

The nominatons for this year's British Soap Awards will be released tomorrow, Monday 30 March. The awards ceremony will be held in Manchester again later this year.

However, this year, there will be no categories for sexiest male and sexiest female. About blinking time too!

There will be a new award category to celebrate “issue-led” story-lines.

A source told the Daily Star Sunday: “It was time to have a bit of a freshen-up. The awards will still be a big, fun celebration but we’ve found a lot of the actors and actresses are a bit embarrassed by the ‘sexiest’ tag.

Rob James Collier, who played Liam Connor in Corrie won the Sexiest Male award at the British Soap awards in 2007 and 2008. He spoke out publicly and critically about being voted 'sexy' when actors want to be appreciated for their acting skills.

Glenda Young 
Flaming Nora Blog / Twitter  

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Sunday Comments March 29

Too bad Gail gave Gavin cash and not a cheque. He wouldn't have had a chance to cash it before he crashed his car! RealGavin's dead! How ironic is that!? Gail even wondered if Andy fiddled the brakes! But Gavin had been drinking all night and probably was well over the limit. They did warn him! Andy is now blaming himself whether it was drink driving or because of the heart condition. Either way, Andy was Gavin's friend for many years, no matter how much of a git Gavin had been lately, Andy's bound to be grieving.

Anyway, Michael's operation didn't have the desired effect and he now will probably need a transplant. Gail is determined that Michael never know the truth and Andy has to be Gavin forever and she is really resentful of having been caught in the lie. Can't blame her. But when such a shock will do Michael in, it's a rock and hard place to be in, isn't it? Steph comes up with another glitch. Andy has been using Gavin's National Insurance number (something like using your Canadian Social Insurance Number) and once Gavin's death is registered, the government will wonder why a dead man is still getting paid. The only solution they can decide is to put Andy's number on the payroll records and hope nobody notices the name discrepancy. You may remember that's exactly how Mike Baldwin found out that Hayley Patterson was registered as Harold.

Anyway, Gail lies to Michael who catches her at the computer, saying she didn't get paid for all the hours she worked. She did get the change made. Even though she made him promise to keep quiet, he spilled the beans anyway and she feels even worse because it wasn't Leanne's mistake (with the wages) it was Nick's, or so he thinks and it seems he's upset because he thinks it's a brain-injury thing, just when he thought he'd pretty much got over it. More reason for Gail to feel guilty and angry with Steph and Andy! Steph has volunteered to take over the payroll so at least if there's any name issues, she can deal with it.

Perfect timing: Michael talking about not tempting fate while Gail sees Gavin's obituary in the newspaper. Ruining one newspaper and nicking the one in the cafe doesn't mean he won't find one in the cab office! Surely at least one person in the neighbourhood would have seen the paper and read the obituaries. But with Gavin's photo in the paper, I suppose they'll just assume it's a different guy with the same name. Nice touch having Andy refer to Michael as "me dad" like it's really true and Gail stopping him cold on it. Shows that Andy really feels comfortable in the role, like he's forgetting he's not really Michael's son.

Worse timing: The real Gavin's auntie Barbara comes to bring Michael the bad news about his son. Gail tries to put her off, saying Michael's in hospital again but guess what? Turns out Gavin had the same condition and died of a heart attack! Gail plied her with drink but panicked when Michael comes round the corner.

Add into this mix the arrival of a young blonde woman. Already she's spinning stories to cab drivers and to Andy who isn't really in the frame of mind to see through her lies. Recently arrived from Milan (any clues yet?) She was able to talk him into buying her a drink, many drinks. Sparky little minx, isn't she?

Sean was upset about Billy not wanting to go public at the church do. So what does he do? Take it out on Emily who had nothing to do with it. He reckoned she stayed away from the comedy night because she disapproved of Billy being gay when it was nothing about that at all. She just wasn't interested in a comedy night. Emily's cool, is Emily and I'll argue with anyone that says otherwise. Sean made a big mistake. Is this the end of he and Billy?

Sean and Billy are avoiding each other so Emily plays matchmaker. I do love Emily. She told the vicar to get over himself and sort it out! Which they do. You don't disobey Mrs. Bishop! But Billy is torn. He says he's committed to Sean but he can't tell the world. He has to think of his parish as well. Sean isn't about to be hidden away so we're at an impasse. Except they have feelings for each other and aren't willing to put them aside. It's not going to be easy, but Sean is willing to try and Billy is happy about that! Meanwhile, Em comes up with a new fund raising idea, something she saw on morning television, a butler auction! (i.e. you auction off your services for a day, to be someone else's butler, doing errands and such) Billy compromises and also suggests a "bring and buy" of which she approves.

So Anna did make a remark about Faye going to get her own music for the party. Even though that wasn't true, I wouldn't have blamed Faye! The music was so not what a 13 year old would like! The party was further interrupted when Chesney came to prove Katy right. Over his dead body is she taking Joseph away and he might be able to make a legal case for her not taking Joseph out of the country, too. Sounds like Katy might have to back down because of course, her family don't want her to go either.

Linda has gone back to Portugal without Katy who's really upset. She didn't feel she had any choice in the matter but to stay in Weatherfield so that Chesney wouldn't lose Jospeph. It's another rock and hard place thing though in this day and age of the internet, it wouldn't be nearly so bad as the old days. Still, Joseph is only little and Chesney is close to his lad. It's a hot topic for Ches, having grown up without a father. He doesn't want that for his boy. But Katy really resents not being able to start anew. She's been trying for ages. Turns out she was going to try to be a personal trainer but she was so preoccupied she missed her exam. That's something that was never mentioned, was it?

Her solution? Go out, get drunk. But don't buy your own drinks, oh no. She found Callum in the pub and made him buy them, which he did in spite of the fact that neither of them now likes the other. It's all very contrived. He manages to get her home before she falls over and Chesney, seeing her struggling agains Callum who's only trying to keep her upright, takes over. Of course, he pities Katy when she starts to moan and cry about all her poor choices and dead end future. Not that it might be any better in Portugal I suppose.

Meanwhile, Sinead is trying to stand on her own but it seems like since Chesney wasn't there to give her that little extra confidence boost, she couldn't quite manage it. At least it's realistic, and she's not lurching on her feet and making progress in great leaps and bounds like Peter Barlow did after the tram crash. Anyway, Beth gives Chesney an earful for not being there for Sinead. That makes him realize that Sinead has to be his priority at the moment and things can change so suddenly. He tells Katy she can go. Owen tries to persuade him against it but Chesney has decided. He can't hold Katy back and she assures him she'd never let him lose touch with Joseph. Owen doesn't approve but Katy's right when she points out that if he hadn't kept Linda away from her all those years, she wouldn't be leaving now.

Sinead is getting some good support from her Irish mate who knows what she's going through. But she's horrified at Chesney's news and feels he's using her as an excuse so that makes her feel guilty. Chesney assures her it's nothing to do with her but she's not having it. It's going to be really tough for Chesney to let him go. Sinead is so beside herself and really does think he's giving up Joseph because of her that she even talked Kirk into springing her out of the hospital but that didn't end well. The stupid woman tried to stand up on her own with nobody there to reach the tea and fell. Back to hospital in an ambulance this time. Fair enough, because she could have injured her back again when she fell but did they really need the siren?

So Katy is upset again because Beth points the finger at her. If she wasn't taking Joseph away, Sinead would have stayed put etc. Katy second guesses herself, because all her decisions have been rubbish. Well never mind. The actress wanted to leave the show so there's no chance Katy was going to stay in the end. Chesney seems to have convinced Sinead his decision is the right one but it's breaking his heart. Good old Roy stepped in and made sure Chesney said a proper goodbye to his son. There's Katy off in a cab. Why on earth nobody arranged for time off to go to the airport with them is beyond me.

Simon might not be a cute little kid anymore, but he still managed to win over Zeedan in the end by touching the nerve that's close to Zeedan's heart, his cool trainers, the care and upkeep thereof. Simon has been brought into the egg conspiracy but he gets caught and Sharif has figured it all out. Rjevenge is sweet. Sharif plays Kal and Zeedan like a fiddle, with a nod and a wink to keep Simon quiet. He persuades Kal and Zeedan to talk to the chickens, or read to them. Father and son realize they've been outed. But they're not happy that Sharif is now going to get rid of his beloved chickens. Oh wait! Turns out they're laying after all, elsewhere in the yard! They're sneaking out at night and getting laid! (so to speak!) And isn't it convenient that Sharif now has a supply of egg cartons? Roy seems suspicious of Sharif's motives and the allotment is going to be awarded.

Callum did bring Max back on time. But the solicitors have decided that mediation is a prudent way to settle the issue. David isn't so sure. Callum is bringing his mother to mediation. Callum's mother seems nice. Always good to bring respectable backup. I wonder if she has any idea what her son really does and if she thinks his time in prison was a miscarraige of justice! David has to really keep his temper and Gail advises him to speak from the heart. While they were talking, the mothers ended up getting on quite well. Callum really did pour out a lot of smooth talking. How Max has changed his life and all that. It really sounded like a line. David sure thought so and when Callum realized it wasn't going to be a one off open and shut case, with no decision forthcoming, he lost his temper with a little help from David so David probably scored a few points this time.

Lloyd still seems uncomfortable around Steve. Seems like their friendship has a deep fracture in it even if he pretends on the surface. Andrea and Michelle collaborated to get Steve and Lloyd out together but they knew what was going on and Steve backed out. Lloyd didn't try to talk him into going either. Steve's right, neither of them know how to fix things. The old cab office chair creaked early in the week and finally gave out. It must have been rigged. I have never seen a chair fall to pieces like that in my life! Maybe Steve can fix that at least!

Leanne and Simon get their flat back but Leanne invites Kal to move in! Oh Jenny's still around, I see. And she is coincidentally free to mind Jack for the day though she's reluctant. She didn't look too comfortable or confident. Is there more to it? Sophie's quite shirty with her even though she supposedly made peace with her father seeing Jenny. Even Rita acknowledges that Kevin can see who he wants. Eileen made a fatal mistake, going for a few drinks before her first date. She did get over her fit of temper about not going into the pub, though and she decided, and the blind date seemed to agree, they'd give it a bit more time before meeting. Fair enough.

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The Strange Case of Todd Grimshaw

(This post was originally posted by Emma Hynes on the Coronation Street Blog in February 2015, reposted with permission.)

There is a long tradition in literature and drama of exploring notions of villainy, and exquisitely dreadful characters have transferred to and been born on our television and cinema screens. From Dorian Gray to Walter White, we have been presented with complex characters who make us doubt the clarity of the boundaries between good and evil, and pose questions which run to our very core. 

These are not mere mischief makers, but human beings whose stricken moral compasses invoke both an intellectual and emotional response in reader and viewer alike. From the silent battles occurring within us all between who we are, who we want to be and who we should be, and what is right versus what is desired, emerges the concept of The Double where, as Robert Louis Stevenson puts it in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “man is not truly one, but truly two.”

Some might say that such weighty themes are not the realm of soap, but I ask, why not? In fact, Coronation Street has a history of complex villains, and presents an excellent example in the form of Todd Grimshaw.

Todd is intelligent, quick witted and clever, and has undergone a metamorphosis that has triggered his transition from good-natured individual to a manipulative, scheming adversary. I would prefer if we knew the reason for his transformation, as it would certainly go some way toward explaining it, but it is likely that he experienced some disappointment in London which has induced his current state.

In The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud considers the notion of The Double, and writes “…there are all the possibilities which, had they been realised, might have shaped our destiny, and to which our imagination still clings, all the strivings of the ego that were frustrated by adverse circumstances, all the suppressed acts of volition that fostered the illusion of free will.”

With this in mind, I like to think of Todd as railing against the utter disappointment of his failure to achieve his potential in life, and that his machinations are the result of sheer boredom, bitterness and frustration. He uses his intelligence for bad rather than good, and gains satisfaction from making others miserable. He is therefore a complex character, and while I will shortly question what he has become, his presence has been welcome as far as I’m concerned, not least on foot of what Bruno Langley has brought to the role.

There was a point at which I recall Todd sparkling as something of a Shakespearean fool, and in March 2014 wrote the following in an episode review from that time: “I’ve been singing Todd’s praises lately, and he continued to be exceptional this evening. He is ever ready with a witty aside, some wise words, and is increasingly a source of deadpan humour. Steve faces stiff competition after Carla sings Peter’s praises to Michelle. As he comes up with ideas to treat her, Todd indifferently swats away his suggestions like so many irritating flies. Flowers are unimaginative, the idea of theatre makes him choke on his lollipop, and karaoke at the Hen and Squirrel, where it’s a pound a pint, invokes particular disdain….His insistence that Eileen go through with her apology to Liz is in essence the reason why they make up, and succeeds in making him endearing despite his, at times, deplorable behaviour.”

He appeared at this time like an outsider commenting on the programme from within. His disdain was a source of humour, and despite all his unpardonable deeds, there was nevertheless a goodness at the heart of his cynicism. His lines were metatheatre, and it was a joy to watch.

However, by October 2014, having seduced Marcus and been responsible for almost ruining Jason’s business, Todd’s Machiavellian chickens finally came home to roost and he was completely frozen out by his loved ones. His twinkling disdain for the world around him was royally doused, and despite his genuine attempts to make amends and his sincere remorse for what he had done, he was roundly rejected by all, making him a sympathetic character.

The following month, Todd found a true friend in Roy who advised him to build bridges with those he had alienated, citing it as “good for the soul”. 

Todd took this seriously and attempted to do so. After he cleaned up the cafĂ© following an egging, Roy later declared in front of Todd’s detractors that “everyone deserves a second chance,” and bought him a pint. A genuinely grateful and humble Todd was sincerely relieved at what he considered progress. I wrote at this time, “he strikes me as a character with plenty of potential who could demonstrate positive change from the hard lessons he’s learned. While we’re sadly assured Todd’s difficult times don’t end just yet, let’s hope he’ll come out the other side a fully redeemed individual so that we can see the best he has to offer.”

Unfortunately this has not come to pass.

A good character underwent a metamorphosis which saw him transform into a malevolent individual. However, on realising the full weight of his misdeeds and demonstrating true remorse, he achieved redemption, and I feel a man of Todd’s intellect is unlikely to regress following such an experience. However, despite his subsequent assault and facial scarring gaining him the love he so craved, he seems to have done just that, and is now lashing out at all around him, albeit in a covert way.

The mirror image is a classic trope when it comes to The Double, and as villainous Todd stares at his reflection, scarred and bruised, he is faced with his Jekyll and Hyde duality. Instead of rejecting it on foot of his recent redemption, however, he resigns himself to inflicting continued pain on others.

My problem with this is that his scheming appears devoid of worthy purpose, and his motives are far too weak to do a man of his intelligence any credit. Like Todd himself has failed to fulfill his potential in life, I feel his characterisation is heading the same way; art is imitating art.

Now you may say that Todd is simply a bad person who likes to do cruel things, but I feel there is more to him than that. A character of such quality with depth and dimension who acts with intelligence and who has shown feeling and remorse  deserves a storyline to match, and for me, his current schemes are simply beneath him.

Todd’s malice is borne out of a poor motive, and therefore doesn’t ring true for me. Bring back the metatheatrical jester who doesn’t claim to be anything he isn’t unless for playful purposes, who offers an alternative window on the street, and puts his cynicism and intellect to good use. Have him retain his relief at his redemption. Show that he has learned a lesson from the pain of rejection, and allow the scars of recollection rather than those inflicted physically to guide his actions.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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Saturday 28 March 2015

Anne Kirkbride's name to stay on her dressing room door

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Digital Spy reports that Anne Kirkbride's name will remain on her dressing room door at the Coronation Street studios at ITV.

Speaking at the Television and Radio Industry Club Awards this week, Brooke Vincent - who plays Sophie Webster, said that Beverley Callard (Liz McDonald) has now moved into Anne Kirkbride's dressing room.

"We're so quick at work. Not a policy, get on with it, but everyone knows she's still there, she's still around us," she explained.

"Beverley Callard has now moved into her dressing room with her name on the door as well. They were really close friends."

Confirming that the tribute is here to stay, she added: "Her legacy is still there and we all still think about her, and every time we walk past her dressing room we see her name."

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Anne Kirkbride memorial service announced

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Coronation Street have announced that a memorial service for Anne Kirkbride will take place on Saturday 30 May at Manchester Cathedral.

Cast and crew will celebrate Anne’s life alongside her family and members of the public who would like to pay their respects to the actress who brought so much joy into everyone’s lives as Deirdre Barlow.

Anne’s fellow cast members William Roache and Beverley Callard will be amongst the actors attending the Service with her colleagues from the production team.

The Service will take place from 11.30am.

No further information about the Service will be released until closer to the day.

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Coronation Street plans its farewell to Anne Kirkbride

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog March 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Coronation Street Executive producer Kieran Roberts has spoken about the show's plans to say farewell to Anne Kirkbride, who portrayed Deirdre Barlow for 42 years.  Anne passed away in January this year, aged 60

Kieran said: "She was a wonderful woman, and a wonderful actress. We all miss her terribly. At the moment, we're respecting her memory. We're talking to her family and respecting the family's wishes, but what I can tell fans of the show is that we will be saying farewell to the character on screen later this year.

"The exact plans are not yet finalised but that will certainly happen. It's important that, in the real world, the family are able to say farewell to the woman. We absolutely support and respect all of that.

"Later in the year, we will make sure that Coronation Street is able to say a farewell to Deirdre."

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Friday 27 March 2015

Faye's Pregnancy Woes in Lego

Here's a wonderful little gem by a Youtube user "Yeh It's Jack" that depicts Faye Windass's recent discovery that she's pregnant but it's all done in Lego! It's inventive and detailed and a lot of fun! Well done!

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Fab Photo - Laying the cobbles

It's Friday again so it's time for this week's fab Coronation Street photo. Everyone seems to have settled in nicely on the new set, here are the iconic cobbles being laid.

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Thursday 26 March 2015

Corrie Canada sneak previews for March 30 - April 3

Without further ado here is a brief sneak preview of what you'll see on  next week's Corrie in Canada.

Bethany Platt has arrived in Weatherfield and she's not going back no matter what anyone says. Gail attends Gavin's funeral and misses David's mediation session. Roy and Sharif will be sharing the allotment. This may not go well. Michelle discovers that Steve owes the tax man. Jenny overreacts with Jack and then dumps Kevin. Can he persuade her back? There's a double proposal on the Street. Faye tangles Craig in her plan to keep the birth secret.

For more details and photos, visit the Moosejaw Mercury at Corrie.net

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What's in a soap surname?

(This post was originally posted by Llifon on the Coronation Street Blog in February 2015, reposted with permission.)

I've been thinking about this topic for a while but have not had the time or a motive to write about it. Well, today's the day. In comments to one of the recent weekly awards, Frosty asks why is Jenny Bradley referred to as Jenny Bradley instead of just plain Jenny. I don't know if they meant on the show or on this blog and other websites, but this led me to do this blog post.

Surnames are an important part of someone's identity, although not among Welsh people. Before Wales was invaded by England, a man's name in Welsh was connected to his father's (i.e. Gwilym ap Dafydd means William son of David). This wasn't used for women's names. So when the English invaded, they Anglicised the Welsh names with ap Gwilym becoming Gwilym's and then Williams. So suddenly the Welsh had thousands of people surnamed Jones, Davies, Evans, Hughes or Williams. So to differentiate they started calling themselves after their homes and that's how it is since. I don't know if it's the same in Ireland or Scotland.

In England there are some examples of this with Johnson, Michaelson, Nicholson and Jameson, but English surnames also come from various jobs like Baker, Barker, Cooper, Carter and Smith. So that leads us to Corrie.

Corrie characters' surnames are also very important to their personality. While we may refer to them as Elsie, Ena, Bet, Annie or Hilda, there is no doubt that their surnames of Tanner, Sharples, Lynch, Walker and Ogden are just as important. What I love about watching those old episodes is how in a row, Elsie and Ena or Annie and Hilda would use their full name when shouting each other. The same goes for men. Enemies Ken and Mike would always refer to each other not with their forenames but with their surnames Barlow and Baldwin. That may have been an imitation of the Ewing/Barnes rivalry of Dallas, but yet again it was a cold and impersonal exchange that provided us with a 20 year old rivalry. 

We are in an age now that everyone calls each other by their first names, regardless of age. In a couple of decades there probably will be no referrals to 'Mr so and so' or 'Mrs so and so'. Even in Corrie now, characters like Rita and Emily are referred to by youngsters with their first names whereas on Corrie 20 years ago they might have been referred to as Mrs Sullivan or Mrs Bishop. And certainly only a few people called Annie Walker or Ena Sharples by their first name 40 or 50 years ago. 

But Corrie characters' surnames aren't as important as they once were. We only refer to Maria, Fiz, Julie, Katy, Maddie, Sophie or Steph first names only. The age of a character's surname being of importance is slowly slipping away, in any soap. There are a certain generation of characters whose surname is an integral part of their identity - Pat Butcher, Pauline Fowler, Dot Cotton, Peggy Mitchell, Alf Roberts, Albert Tatlock, Martha Longhurst, Minnie Caldwell, Mr Swindley, Jack Sugden, Annie Sudgen, Eric Pollard, Alan Turner, Mr Wilks, Harold Bishop, Helen Daniels, Mrs Mangel, Meg Richardson, Amy Turtle, J. R. Ewing and Bobby Ewing.  

Pat Phoenix felt that Elsie's surname was such an important part of her character, that when the idea of her getting married was approached in 1967, she refused to have a new surname. So despite him being a Yank, Steve had to have a working class English surname! When she married Alan Howard, she took his name but returned to Tanner when they divorced. The same thing happened when EastEnders character Pauline Fowler remarried. Her portrayer, Wendy Richard, refused for Pauline to change her surname to Macer, stating that Fowler was an important part of Pauline's character. It has been revealed that Wendy Richard left the soap later that year because of the producers' decision for Pauline to remarry. So there are some people who have a strong view over surnames. 

So let me get this straight.
You want me to change my
surname again?! 
On the other hand you've got characters like Rita, Gail, Deirdre or EastEnders' Pat who have had so many surnames. Their surnames could show for how long viewers have been watching the show. If they refer to Rita Fairclough, they've been watching the show before 1992 or Deirdre Langton they have been watching before 1981 or Pat Butcher they've been watching EastEnders before 1995. Even Betty became a Williams after she'd been a Turpin on-screen for 26 years, and yet nobody was bothered. Emily's been a Bishop since 1972. If she would remarry now, would you be bothered? Or even Audrey not being Mrs Roberts? 

As for Jenny Bradley, I suppose she is being addressed this way because she is a returning character and we want viewers to remember her. Her father Alan was referred to as 'Alan Bradley' many times and probably to separate him from another Alan who was in the show 10-15 years earlier, Alan Howard. Over time I'm sure she will just be addressed as just plain Jenny.

So what's your view? Does a surname still hold an important part in a soap character's identity or is it a thing of the past?  

By Llifon

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Wednesday 25 March 2015

Emily Bishop: Born with a tidy mind

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in March 2015.)

Emily Bishop has had some cracking little scenes in Coronation Street recently. Having done one of her numerous disappearing acts these days, she has bounced back with aplomb.

I make no secret of the fact it has taken me a while to appreciate the quietly plodding Emily. However Eileen Derbyshire is such a subtle, skilled actress that this, together with her lack of interest in any publicity whatsoever, can often mean her contribution to Corrie is overlooked. 

Some people criticise Miss Derbyshire for keeping herself to herself or find it weird in these social media days however I think it's quite refreshing for someone in the public eye to decide not to share the contents of their breakfast with all and sundry. 

I remember the fabulous Kathy Burke praising Eileen Derbyshire in an interview some years ago, saying she was an underrated actor who never received the plaudits she was due. After all, she has been with Coronation Street since January 1961 which is quite an achievement. Many see her as surplus to requirements these days, a relic of a bygone era perhaps? I disagree. 

Last year Eileen Derbyshire appeared in only 39 episodes compared to Alison King's 163 and Kym Marsh's 152 but it doesn't really matter. We collectively shout "Emily!" whenever she suddenly appears. I can understand that it is only right Eileen may opt for a reduced workload these days given the pressures of filming, but I still think the character of Emily has much to contribute.

Emily is often classed as dull and uneventful. She once said:

"I've always wanted to be stormy, passionate and tempestuous. But you can't be. Not when you're born with a tidy mind."

A beautiful line. However it's not always been sweet sherries and charity work. She narrowly escaped marrying Leonard Swindley in the 60s; saw her beloved husband Ernest killed by armed robbers in the 70s; married a deranged bigamist in the 80s and coped with Percy Sugden for far too many years. She protested up a tree in the 90s and took in a rather familiar looking Mel Hutchwright and his Hard Grindings in the 2000s. 

Every long running serial needs its constant, steady Eddie characters and in this regard Emily is invaluable. She is a vital link to the established narrative of Coronation Street and despite first appearances I really do see her as a classic strong Corrie woman. She bounced back remarkably from Richard Hillman's attempt to kill her and to this day stands up for what she believes in. Eileen Derbyshire is capable of a broad range, from light comedy when disapproving of Norris or a raised eyebrow at Rita's chequered past to powerful, moving scenes when she confronted Ernie's killer many years on.

Only this week she stole scenes from everyone around her during Sean Tully's daft rant at her in the Rovers. As Sean jumped to conclusions Emily was quiet and calm in her defence while still leaving everyone in no uncertain terms as to who had won the argument. It was a delight to watch. 

I am so glad Eileen Derbyshire still pops up in Corrie from time to time and I for one will always look forward to her scene stealing cameos. 

Follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82 

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Tuesday 24 March 2015

Conversation Street podcast 140

Gemma and Michael's podcast for the episodes in Canada that aired (up to last night's Canadian Corrie) can be heard here.

This week Gail and Michael attempted to get married but the appearance of the real Gavin Rodwell put a wrench firmly in those plans. The scales have fallen from Katy's eyes regarding Callum and her mother's invitation to come live in Portugal is looking good. Too bad Chesney isn't having any of it. The character profile this week is Gail's first (and second) husband, Brian Tilsley, the father of Nick and Sarah.

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The Burton/Taylor Effect

(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in February 2015.)

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra in 1962; they were both married to other people.  Soon they were embroiled in a passionate, insane affair that was condemned by the Pope.  They married in 1964 and spent the next nine years screaming at one another, having noisy sex, and lazing around on yachts in glitzy Eurotrash resorts.  She wore turbans and kaftans to cover her decadent curves; he took parts in terrible films so that he could afford to buy her diamonds.  They divorced in 1973, with Burton sending her a truly heartbreaking goodbye.

Sixteen months later they were married again, unable to stay apart; nine months after that they divorced again, unable to stay together.  They were bawling, passionate balls of lust, and even after they separated - even after they married other people, again and again - they always suspected that they'd return to one another.  Burton was rumoured to have written a final letter to Liz before he died; she, in turn, was buried with his letters.

This doesn't seem to have much to do with Coronation Street, I admit - apart from, perhaps, my never-ending quest to see Audrey Roberts in a silk turban.  It's more to do with the power of some relationships that mean the end is never the end.  Characters chop and change their sexual partners with barely a ripple from those around them; it's the way of all soaps.  People are able to swap to a new wife or husband without any effort at all and the Street and its community act as if things have always bee that way.  It's hard, now, to remember that Eva used to go out with Nick, or that Tyrone was engaged to Maria, or that Rita once went to bed with Ken.  It's all stuff that happened in the past.

Sometimes, though, a couple split up and you're just marking time until they get back together.  There's a connection there that means we're eagerly waiting for them to reunite.  The greatest example is, of course, Ken and Deirdre.  After Barlow was evicted from number one for his affair with Wendy Crozier, that should have been it for the couple.  Yet everyone knew, somehow, that Ken and Deirdre belonged together.  Even when she was with Samir, or he was with Denise, we were waiting.  When they were both single at the same time, the audience quietly willed them back together.  When they finally remarried, it completed their characters once again.  Ken and Deirdre.  They came as a pair.

It's not just down to both halves of the couple remaining on the Street.  After Gail and Martin split up, there was never a clamouring for them to reunite; that was it and we all knew it.  It's about a connection.  When Kevin and Sally split up in 1997, again following an affair, there was a feeling of loss and confusion.  From the perspective of 2015, it's odd to think that Kevin was married to someone else before he and Sally reunited in 2002.  They were a couple who seemed to be stuck together.  Even now - and I speak as Tim's number one fan - they seem to have their engines idling, ready to reconnect.  There's chemistry and history and charm there and we're all waiting for them to stop mucking about and marry for a third time.

These aren't the full Burton/Taylor, though.  These are couples who belong together like matching sling backs.  To be a real Liz and Dick there has to be an animalistic, uncurbed passion underneath.  Peter and Carla had this relentless, unable to part lust, coupled with self-destructive instincts that hurt the both of them.  We all know that if Peter had hung around a couple more months, he and Carla would have had a sloppy reunion, probably immediately followed by a noisy separation.  That was just the way they worked.

Similarly, if Karen or Becky returned to the Street, there would be a Steve-shaped hole in the side of the Rovers as he rushed to their side.  What he has with Michelle can't compete.

The real Burton and Taylor of Weatherfield, though, are his mum and dad, Liz and Jim.  For twenty odd years they've crashed into one another all over the cobbles, screaming, violent, lusty.  She left Jim to run a pub; they reunited.  He beat seven bells out of her; they separated.  They grew closer, then divorced, then remarried while he was in prison.  That's a level of insane commitment.  They divorced again, but always, always, we knew that Jim was her true love, even as Liz married Vernon.  He robbed a building society for her, for heaven's sake.

Even when Jim returned a few months ago, and Liz spat disgusted words at him across a formica table, we didn't really believe it.  They're a pair of screaming cats who finish fighting and immediately start doing something else that begins with "f".  Everyone knew it - even Liz's current boyfriend, Tony, viewed her prison visits as tantamount to foreplay.  We're all just waiting for Big Jim to turn up at the Rovers and for the cycle to start all over again.  Liz and Jim, Liz and Dick - never ending passions.

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Monday 23 March 2015

Corrie Canada Weekly Awards for March 16 - 20

Phrase of Doom award: Michael "Nothing is going to stop me from making you my wife on Monday"

Good casting award: Gavin does have a bit of resemblence to Michael around the edges. I can believe that Michael would look fairly similar if he was 30 years younger.

Piece of Work award: And isn't Gavin a great bad guy! Very believable.

Ivy Tilsley Brennan award: Erica's back and Gail's not happy about it.

Geography fail: Anna's got the native language of Brazil wrong.

Winter of our Discontent award: They're really poking great holes in Anna and Owen's relationship. You can see where this is going, can't you?

Wrong end of the Stick award: Steve only caught the end of a conversation and thought Liz had already sacked Eileen. Ooops!

Vintage award:
Audrey didn't even buy a new hat for Gail's sixth wedding, reusing the one from the Hillman day instead. Just as well.

Irony award: Gail, on her wedding day, telling herself "you deserve this" just as the real Gavin Rodwell is knocking on the door.

Pants on Fire award: Now Gail's joined the Liar, Liar boat. But with Michael having stress related symptoms, she feels she is right to lie.

Fashion statement: Sean's flamingo shirt!

Haunted by the past: Loved how Tracy said the Battersbys stole anything not nailed down. Leanne might have denied it but she blushed and you know it was very true!

True Colours award: That's Katy seeing the real Callum come pouring out of his gob, calling her a slapper.

Phobia award: Tim. First rats. Now spiders.

Musical fail award: "Like a Virgin" probably isn't what Faye wanted to hear at her birthday party, hiding an 8 month baby bump.

Lines of the week:
Sally to Maria "I saw you nibbling away like a small woodland creature"
Gail "Yes, Eileen, just close your mouth and open the bottle"
Anna "They speak Brazilian in Brazil. Even I know that" (Portuguese, actually)
Eileen about Gail "Her and Nick have a weirder relationship than Norman Bates and his mother" (and that's actually true!)
Eileen "I'm nothing if not professional" (seriously?)
Audrey to Steve and Lloyd "D'you know, you two don't half know how to kill a mood"
Gail "You deserve this" (just as her world comes crashing down outside that door)
Audrey "In my day it was Happy Families and that was it" David "It's not really appropriate in this family, though, is it?"
Julie to Eileen "I think you got the wrong end of the stick" Todd "That would be the one she was relentlessly poking the punters with?"
Audrey to Gail "Anybody would think you were going to the gallows not walking up the aisle" ... and ..."You can't go through life expecting the worst to thappen" Gail "Why not? Usually does and just when I dare to think I might be, that's when something rears up and bites me on the..."
Michael to Andy re the mugging "You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time." Andy "Story of my life"
Eileen "I've never wanted to jump into a tank of pirhanas bit I've a fair idea how that might turn out"
Gail "If only I was as happy as you, Eileen, wouldn't life be wonderful?" (a bit of sarcasm there, but I bet she wishes she had Eileen's problems instead of her own these days)
Owen "You know what Katy's like. Changes her mind what she wants for dinner while she's eating it"
Tracy "Me in a church? The skies turn black if I walk in a room and Songs of Praise is on"

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Sunday 22 March 2015

Sunday Comments March 22

Oh look, Erica's back and boy, Gail isn't happy about it! This hen night was quite amusing, between the women getting tiddly and teasing each other, Eileen and Gail sparring and then Erica shadowing the bride. Eileen's attitude towards Gail is to be expected, normally, and it was good fun to watch but as an employee, it's downright unacceptable though I do think it was a mistake giving Eileen the champagne bottle to pop. Far too tempting! Owen was doing more than asking Callum what he did for a living, he was practically grilling him and i LOVED that a drunken Gail blew Callum's secret out of the water. Katy might try to pretend it's all lies, but I think Owen's more likely to believe Gail than Callum.

Steph persuaded Andy, who was just about to back out of the theft somehow (though he'd missed putting it in the bank for Nick) to stage a robbery. Yeah, that always works. I just hope there really was an alley between the Bistro and the bank like he said in his story. These things can be checked. And what about all the CCTV around? If the bank really is in Market St. that's the city centre of Manchester and there's bound to be a lot of them around and even if they don't show the robbery, surely one of them could have caught Andy going down into an alley. Or not of course. So that's good. Add theft to fraud and lying to the police and that's probably good for an extra 5 years on the sentence in Strangeways. Anyway, they only got half the money and Gavin is threatening to blow it all up at the wedding if they don't get it. Oh dear.

It's Gail and Michael's wedding day and if you were watching last week, you knew there was a big elephant about to come crashing into the room in the guise of Gavin. He's determined to scam money out of Andy in return for his silence about Andy pretending to be him. You waited for it all through the first wedding day episode when Gail was having attacks of nerves, mainly worrying about Michael's health and if she deserved being happy. Andy was a ball of nerves too, not just because he's staged a mugging and got the police involved, but because Gavin is lurking around corners and even confronted Andy and Michael with a nasty diatribe about Michael's son hating him always. Steph isn't too calm herself. Turns out they all had reason to be on edge.

Because there's no more money forthcoming from Andy, Gavin goes to Gail before the wedding and reveals his secret. He's the real Gavin Rodwell. She's bound to have money, right? She does manage to scrape together some money and warns him off but it's made her late for the wedding which didn't go off in the end. Gail is still McIntyre and Michael is disappointed and angry.

Gail, as you might expect, has a hard time getting her head around the news. Gavin has come to Gail to get the rest of the money he thinks he's owed. He's very good, this actor, isn't he? Very believable! Gavin maintains his view that Michael doesn't really have regrets and that he's a despicable man. He won't be told otherwise. Anyway it made Gail so late for the wedding that she missed their time slot. They were some really good episodes, with Gail finding out the truth and later, confronting Andy.

I can't blame Michael for being angry but it only proves Gail believes she's doing the right thing keeping the secret because he is having stress related symptoms. So she has to keep lying as do they all and someone has to find the rest of the money Gavin wants and pronto. Michael and Gail made up at least but Gail is going to use her last pennies to pay off Gavin and she wanted to do it herself. Paid off with one last warning to get his heart checked.

There's another elephant in the room and this time it's Linda. We know Anna has been acting jealous, it's pretty much open warfare. Big holes in the relationship between Anna and Owen over it all. Mind you, with Owen being so harsh about Linda and then an abrupt truce, it does make it seem like he's harboured unresolved feelings all these years and she's probably feeling very insecure and threatened. He seems to be more interested in bonding with his old family than his new one these days and let's face it, he was never that interested in bonding with Gary and he and Faye have always had their differences. and it seems maybe she has a good reason to be because after a nice afternoon of reminiscing and expressing regrets and apologies, both of them, Linda tells Owen she has always loved him and wants him and both girls to move to Portugal with her. I can't for the life of me think why she still loves him after how he treated her and refused her children to her. Maybe the past comes with rose coloured glasses. Him, yes maybe there are unresolved feelings because he was very hurt at her affair.

Does Owen tell Anna about Linda's proposal? He does! It's probably best he was honest but he did reassure her. Does he mean it? He seems to. Why didn't he reassure her earlier in all this? Because he's Owen, I guess and a bit clueless. Linda's still going to ask the girls to leave Weatherfield, though. The girls were flummoxed when she asked. The prospect of a new life in Portugal gave them a lot to think about, and it looks like Katy really might be considering it even if she doesn't think so just now.

And what changed her mind? She started making more noises to Callum about giving up Portugal for a proper relationship with him and he got mouthy about the kids' accident and turned around and called her a slapper. Oh. Nice. True Colours, there Katyluv. It was enough to make her decide to give Portugal a try but Chesney is going to have something to say about it.

And the third elephant in the room is one that only two people can see though I don't know how Faye's managing to hide that 8 month baby bump. Her school clothes are getting baggier and baggier. Wouldn't her skirt be awfully tight by now? She doesn't look to me like she could work a needle and thread so is she buying bigger skirts? With what money? It's Faye's birthday and there's a surprise party in the works. She didn't like all that attention. And I think the party might have been slightly better if they'd played music from this century instead of naff 80s tunes from Anna and Owen's disco days.

Craig and Faye nearly got caught out talking by Chesney but luckily he overheard something about Katy and Portugal so they were in luck there. As far as Faye's secret goes, at least.

Ooops, Steve thought Liz sacked Eileen but she hadn't and Eileen found out the hard way that her barmaid days were over. And you know how she can hold a grudge! Eileen is being persuaded to try internet dating though she says she's done it in the past and dated the weirdos to prove it. Eileen's ticked off at Steve and Michelle and rightly so. They never should have let her linger in the pub when it was clear it wasn't working out. Instead, she's got Todd talking her into internet dating. It could work. Or it could be fodder for comedy dates. Too bad, it would be nice to see Eileen find a good, decent man with no baggage. The profile that Todd and Julie have come up with sure sanitizing Eileen's personality a bit but aside from the fib about the age, it wasn't bad.

Eileen's dating profile got some responses. So far, not so good. She's picked one to start with. A forklift driver. Todd is making himself responsible for her first impression wardrobe. Probably a good thing. Eileen looked quite nice in the end until Julie tried to change what she was wearing to something to her taste. Glad Eileen stuck to her choice.

Julie's blown it again and this time, literally. She's persuaded Leanne to try to fix the fryer in the kebab shop rather than get in a professional. Out go the lights all over the world, or at least in the shop and flat so that means Leanne and Simon have to bunk in with the Nazirs. That's not gone over well with sulky face Zeedan. At least Zeedan was instrumental in getting Tony involved even if Kal disapproves of Tony personally. Tony *is* an electrician, conveniently. It was nice that Sharif made Leanne feel welcome. I think all of them are now accepting of her except for Sulky Face.

If Simon was still a cute little boy, he might have a better chance of winning Zeedan over. And Zeedan doesn't know what he's up against, tangling with mother lioness Leanne. I chuckled at Tracy decribing how the Battersbys would steal anything not nailed down. Leanne might have denied it but her blushing grin said it was true.

Dev's stay in India is extended with the illness of Uncle Umed. Awww. Callum never misses a chance to wind up David, does he? Now he's introducing Max to his mother, Max's granny. You know, if Callum wasn't such a drug dealing nob, you wouldn't mind so much, would you? Now what's got into Emily? She was almost downright rude to Sean in the bar over her sherry. I suppose comedy nights really aren't Emily's cup of tea. Billy's having a bit of a wobble over going public with Sean at the church comedy night and that hurt Sean's feelings. Billy is in a bit of an awkward spot, I suppose, wanting to make certain impressions at a new job. Not lying about himself but trying to be a bit discreet as well.

Turns out Sharif didn't stand up Roy, he was just a bit late. The interview was at someone's house. I thought the allottments were council-run? Seems odd they interviewed them in the evening not on official premises. But Sharif is trying to charm the woman and Roy has a lot in common with her husband. It's going to be a dead heat, i think. Lloyd still seems to be having trouble getting his head around Steve's diagnosis. Ken really does annoy me. But I think he knows very well that Audrey probably hasn't and won't read the book so why put her on the spot all the time about it? I laughed at Sally pretending to have read the book, when all she did was check on the internet! That's what Audrey needs to do!

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