Friday, 17 April 2015

Corrie on Camping

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

The current chit-chat relating to Corrie's current one-man campfest, Callum 'who dear? me dear?' Logan serves to remind us of the show's historical fey (as opposed to 'Faye') undertones.

They have always been there of course, right from day one with Elsie archly commenting on her own looks. Tony Warren ensured that a certain camp aesthetic ran through the script and at a time when there was no possibility of a gay character on t'cobbles, it was down to the ladies to help lighten the load.

Although the idea of Albert Tatlock swishing into the Rovers with a clutch bag or Ken holding court in the Rovers 'a la Kenneth Williams' would have been fun. Instead we had brassy 'n' bad Elsie, tart with a heart Bet and snobby Annie on hand to provide the knowing looks and cutting one-liners. To this day, the tradition continues in the form of Sally, Liz, Julie and Carla.

As with Callum and the wonderful Jez Quigley, camp doesn't have to mean gay. Corrie has had some delightfully 'light' characters tripping across the cobbles down the years. Norris Cole has been a bastion of camp for almost 20 years. He is a sniffy old woman disguised under a tank top. Any camper and he would be folding his arms under his bosoms and sniffing loudly. Norris isn't 'fun' camp though. He's Ena Sharples for the new Millennium.

Alec Gilroy and Fred Elliott also provided us with numerous camp moments. These were probably down to, particularly in John Savident's case, a theatrical style of performance. Savident always delivered Fred's lines as though it was to the back row of the London Palladium (see also Yasmeen Nazir). This exaggerated style became synonymous with Fred and was part of the character's charm. Alec too was camp writ large, with his endless fussing.

Of the younger cast, there aren't all that many characters, other than Sean, who have had a touch of the Charles Hawtreys. Steve is possibly the closest, thanks to the slightly over-the-top facial expressions and his tendency to opt for a high vocal in some scenes. Dev continues the fine tradition of Fred Elliott with his booming performances and occasional fey mannerisms. Those two aside though, the blokes are pretty much blokey.

For those who worry about another week of Callum sweeping across the cobbles with all the swagger and bravado of Celia Johnson circa 1946, here's two words for you. Greg Kelly.

Cast your mind back to the somewhat unbelievable macho man, seed of Les Battersby, who caused the faktry girls to coo and flutter their eyelids and who eventually bedded Sally. Poor old Greg. No wonder he was so unhappy, mincing around Weatherfield, desperate to order a Cinzano and lemon in the Rovers or rifle through Sally's Bananarama CDs. If you think Callum is the Street's campest ever baddy, then revisit the Greg Kelly years. Even Frankie Howerd would have raised a glass of sherry in admiration.  Watch him on YouTube here.

By Clinkers to Riddle

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