Tuesday 30 June 2015

Conversation Street Podcast 154

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's podcast has some high drama regarding the end of the Jenny Bradley story. Alya has trouble handling her grief and reaches out to a friend, but not in the right way. Talisa is irritating Julie and Mary. Luke gets into a bind with a tshirt deal gone dodgey and Fiz is back on the cobbles. The character profile this week is Maddie Heath.

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Coronation Street Chit-Chat news catch-up, June 2015

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

Here we go with Coronation Street chit-chat, a catch-up of some of the shorter news stories that haven't made it into their own blog post. 

Current Corrie cast members
Daniel Brocklebank (Billy the Vicar) attended a ed-carpet grand opening of a four-star hotel in Derby.
Read it here.
Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud (yet to be seen on screen as Robert Preston's wife) has been given another Corrie stint. Read it here.
Ryan Thomas and Bruno Langley (Jason and Todd Grimshaw) on holiday with their kids. Read it here.
Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor) splits up from the man she was going to marry. Read it here.
Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow) loses 5,000 twitter followers after fictional character set Victoria Court on fire. Read it here.
Bruno Langley (Todd Grimshaw) pops into a pub. Read it here.
Samia Ghadie (Maria Connor) and her baby bump.  Read it here.
Andy Whyment (Kirk Sutherland) and Steven Arnold (Ashley Peacock) work on a butcher's stall.  Read it here.
Shayne Ward (yet to be seen on screen as Michelle's cousin) pictured on set. Read it here.

Ex-Corrie cast members
Rachel Leskovac (Natasha Blakeman) is starring in Dreamers, an all-female musical at Oldham Coliseum. Read it here.
Sir Ian McKellen (Mel Hutchwright) is starring in a new film Mr Holmes. Read it here.

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Corrie Superfan seeks paint drying companion

(This post was originally posted by Stevie Dawson on the Coronation Street Blog in May 2015.)

In its current form, Coronation Street wouldn't be commissioned today. Imagine approaching ITV with a proposal for a new continuing drama called Coronation Street, set on an old terraced backstreet, with a corner shop at one end and an old boozer at the other. Half the cast are at pension age and the proposed storylines include a man keeping chickens in his back garden. The Tony Warrens of today would have a battle on their hands trying to persuade commissioners to put Coronation Street on telly at all, let alone in a prime time slot. And yet there it stands, after fifty plus years, the most watched programme on British television. It's been a while since I've blogged, so here are a few of my thoughts on where Corrie stands at the moment:

Do we really like Corrie that much or are we just creatures of habit?

A fellow blogger vented his frustration on Twitter yesterday about the direction Corrie is going in since the emotional story of Hayley cropper's pancreatic cancer and subsequent death last year. And I have to agree, 'peaks and troughs' seems an appropriate way of describing the quality of our favourite show, which lurches from gripping drama to light hearted comedy to frustratingly dull and badly acted waste of half an hour. Like all soaps, some storylines are dragged out over months and in some cases over a whole year in order for the narrative to develop and seem realistic, but if those months of anticipation are filled with repeated stories and disappointing cliff-hangers, the viewer loses interest and the ending becomes a relief rather than an enjoyment. (Image: Bloggers at the new set earlier this year)

Spoiler Alert

There seem to be more Coronation Street spoilers now than ever before, on Twitter, in magazines and on television. The only problem is, so much effort has gone into making them that they deem watching the full-length episodes pointless. Not only do they show the best bits, but they even show the punchline these days too. By the time we get to the actual episode, we realise that we already knew EXACTLY what was going to happen. No surprises, no twist. Nowt. 

Corrie goes POP

Shayne Ward and Sarah Harding are the latest pop stars to join the Corrie cast, following in the footsteps of now long-serving actress Kym Marsh. My immediate response was to roll my eyes and groan. I've always been of the opinion that the North West of England is brimming with talent and I'd much rather see new faces like we did when Michelle Keegan and Georgia May Foote came on board. However, as was said to me by another fellow blogger when we visited the new set recently, jobbing actors are jobbing actors and we shouldn't begrudge them a job. And as we haven't seen whether Shayne and Sarah come up with the goods yet, perhaps we should give them a chance. 
(Image: Shayne Ward)

Tipping Point

Coronation Street is most loved for it's ability to get the comedy right and portray true northern grit. Even amidst some pretty hard hitting storylines, there's always a bit of light-heartedness in all of the doom and gloom. Major storylines seem to be few and far between at the minute, with Gavin's secret still not out and the Tracy and Tony situation simmering away, there's not really a great deal happening. We've been offered a bit of light relief with Mary's motor-home madness but I could probably have done without the allotment story which has introduced us to a new friend for Roy. We are all invested in Roy's happiness and all of his scenes are brilliantly played, but it's just a bit dull. In the past year we've seen the aftermath of Hayley's cancer death, a disappointing bus crash (again, the spoilers left nothing to the imagination), Sinead's far from emotionally gripping struggle to learn to walk again, and the loss of a handful of characters we probably won't miss. We should brace ourselves for some bad news about Deirdre, and hopefully see the end of some of the slow burning stories I've mentioned, so there should be some great scenes to look forward to. The one surprising development in recent weeks has been Jenny Bradley's descent into mad psycho. It's the not the direction I thought they'd be taking her character, especially with such an interesting history with Rita, and it all seems very familiar.

Stop the Cull

Now that we have a new Tory government in Britain, Armageddon can't be too far away, and it seems to have already begun at Coronation Street. We've lost Owen, Katy, Peter Barlow and others this year, soon to be followed by what will be huge losses. There's talk of mutiny in the ranks at ITV if the press are to be believed so there could be more off-screen drama to come too.

Everlasting Love

It might be a bit hard going being a Corrie superfan at the moment, what with never ending storylines and little left to the imagination, but as always, Coronation Street will recover.

So Graeme, if you're reading this...don't give up just yet.


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Monday 29 June 2015

Another Great Britton

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

The other week Flaming Nora published a blog singing the praises of the Corrie character Steph Britton. I was in full agreement, Tisha Merry has been a ray of sunshine on the cobbles of Weatherfield. It's nice to see a young character come on in Corrie without the usual baggage or being made to look old before their time. Long may she continue to brighten up our favourite street.

This made me think how much I enjoy both Britton siblings on screen. Steph's brother Luke has been in Corrie for a while now and I really like Dean Fagan, I think he brings a lot of charm to the role. I also think they make for a very believable brother and sister double act. It's just a shame they haven't really been given a major storyline of their own so far.

Luke's main role since arriving in the street has been as suitor to Maria. While I have no problem with this at all and it has been cute to see him win her and Liam over, I do fear for his long term future as past boyfriends have not faired well with the Corrie crimper. Sadly they haven't really had a great deal of screen time together either which hasn't helped. Luke has also been effective in his role as mechanic alongside Kevin and Tyrone - his banter with the latter in particular has been great fun. While Luke and Steph have great chemistry as siblings we haven't had enough opportunities to see them together in anything significant. I know certain storylines can dominate and at times but these two are crying out for something more to get their teeth into. 

I must confess to having fallen for Luke's significant charms, but trying to be impartial, I still think he's a character with plenty of promise. I think both Brittons have something fresh to contribute to Coronation Street at a time when some viewers feel it could do with a few changes.

So do you agree that Luke should feature in a more prominent storyline? And if so, what should it be?

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Corrie Canada Weekly Awards June 22 -26

Keystone Cops award: Luke, Kirk, Tyrone and Chesney.

Psychic award: Only Beth knew Brian was sniffing around. How did Mary know? Beth wasn't at the funeral or the Webster house after to tell her. Off screen I guess. 

Musical Ambiance: "You gotta have Faith" when Liz was talking about how she intends on handling Tony if he shows up.

"I Told You So" award: Sophie was just itching to say it and tried a few times. Ok, you were right. Did it help the situation any? No. 

Judgemental award: Guilty until proven innocent has long been a Corrie tradition. Carla's the latest recipient of it.

Ungrateful award: Alya moaned about having to take the meeting, reckons Carla is skiving. It's called having confidence in your trainee, luv. Grow up.

Too Good to be True award: Talisa. One week in and already I don't trust a thing she says or does.

Phrase of Doom award: Kevin telling Sophie he will never let anything bad happen to her and Jack again. *shudder*

Bromance award: Tim and Kevin. Love it!

Blinders award: Julie can't see the forest for the trees. Dev probably thinks Brian is the answer to his

Out of character award: Grief really has taken a toll on Alya.

Rebound award: Eva has only been gone 5 minutes and she's engaged to someone else?

Lines of the Week:
Tim to Sophie "You can read me like a book" Sophie "You're more like a pamphlet"
Emily about Norris "What a ridiculous statement" Rita "He's plenty more where that came from"
Sophie "To my Maddie. Funny and Fearless"
Liz "You're pining for Bistro Boy" Erica "It's a waste of time. He likes the cargo, not the container ship" (give it 5 minutes, love)
Julie "As if werewolves and vampires are going to tempt Dev to pop the question"
Gail about Kylie "She's like one of them Stepford Wives, aggressively cheerful"
Mary about Talisa "That vegetable bothering double jointed interloper"
Alya about Carla "While she's off feeling sorry for herself, I'm the one sorting everything else out" (Oh quit whining. At least Carla has confidence in you)
Kevin about Jack "You can see he's upset" (no, we can't)
Alya "Are you saying I can't hack it?" (you couldn't. But she did agree she overreacted)
Talisa to Luke about the lads wanting tshirts "Now look what you've started" (no, actually, *you* started it)
Alya: "In the end, life just kicks you in the teeth"

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Sunday 28 June 2015

Have we seen the last of Jenny Bradley?

There's a Goodbye Jenny interview with actress Sally Ann Matthews at the official Coronation Street website.

Sally Ann has been on Corrie, for the second time, as Jenny for the last five months - and she was carted off by the cops last night.  Is this the end of Jenny Bradley? I do hope not.

Sally Ann says that one of the best things about being back in Coronation Street has been spending time with Barbara Knox (Rita), Michael Le Vell (Kevin) and getting to know Brooke (Sophie).

In the video interview she gave nothing away regarding her storyline, her future, or whether this will be the last we see of Jenny Bradley. 

And further to that...
Further to our post the other day on whether Jenny Bradley will be back, there's an interview in the Mirror today with Sally Ann Matthews on the social media reaction to Jenny's actions and she also hints that we may not have seen the end of Jenny Bradley.

The reaction on social media has been wide and varied ranging from praise to death threats and wishes throughout her storyline. It doesn't seem to have intimtidated Sally Ann, who appreciates all the feedback. She has this to say about the negative reactions:

"Basically people thought Jenny was weird and then they blamed her for Maddie’s death. But the episode when I slapped Maria Connor was when it all really kicked off on Twitter.

There were some pretty dramatic reactions. When you read them one after another it’s quite overwhelming – people sitting on sofas in the comfort of their own home sending out the vilest things.

It is so weird – these people hate you because you are playing a horrible character."

She points out this happens more often with soap characters where regular drama baddies are hated but people are more aware they are just actors playing a part.  She is overwhelmed by all the positive feedback, too. When she was in the show 22 years ago, all that happened when someone didn't like you was that you got shouted at in public but now the feedback is immediate.

On Jenny's future, she says:

“I know there are stories for Jenny. I don’t what they are and I don’t know when they will be, but you haven’t necessarily seen the last of Jenny Bradley.”

“There’s definitely scope for future stories… history and relationships which not been resolved or explored."

“I think there is a lot of potential for Jenny – which is about as much as I can say about it.”

But will Jenny be back? Sally Ann isn't say for sure and, reading between the lines, it *could* be wishful thinking but then again, maybe she knows something we don't? I really hope we do see Jenny again.

All she says is "We'll have to wait and see..."

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Sunday Comments June 28

Turns out Craig has been painting a mural for Maddie in the ginnel! And He was also the one that did it on Sally's wall too. Sharper eyes that I have spotted a little rat on both murals, clearly his signature. Beth thinks it's great! I wonder why nobody noticed it in progress but it was a bit around the corner from the main ginnel, i guess. Beth is proudly showing off Craig's mural. It wasn't fair for her to lure Carla into the mix in front of everyone, though. And even if it was Carla's fault, you'd think some people would still realize that it was an accident and that Carla feels dreadful about it instead of rubbing it in her face but it's traditional, isn't it, for people on the soap to turn on you. Guilty until proven innocent has long been a Corrie tradition.

Yep, David is pretending to take Kylie back as far as Callum is concerned. Gail went off on one at Kylie, as expected. But she's back even though David told her in no uncertain terms that her being back is a front for getting Max back, nothing else. David says he's over her. I'm not so sure. He can't risk getting hurt again and can't risk the kids getting hurt. That's it, they'll be back together by Christmas, you mark my words.

Max is not so sure he's happy his mother is back. I suppose he's scared she'll leave again. Gail has absolutely no time for Kylie. Her relationship with Kylie was tenuous at best. Callum really isn't happy Kylie's back and he seems to be doing anything he can to wind up Kylie and she's having difficulty standing up to his barrage of button pushing. Gail, Sarah and Bethany are filled with hateful remarks. Poor Kylie is really up against it isn't she? And she wants to remind them they're living in *her* house. It was nice that Maria lent a sympathetic ear and it seemed to bolster Kylie a bit.

She thought perhaps if she went to the doctor it might make the Platts realize she was serious about staying clean. The doctor gave her good advice. She should go to a support group and that will help. And David does still have affection for her so let's hope he'll pitch in and help her along and they'll put an act on to win Max around and put Callum off their scent.

But Bethany overheard them and blabbed to Sarah and Callum. Since when is she Callum's informer? I suppose she just likes to cause trouble wherever she can, indiscriminately. Callum didn't waste any time confronting them, either. But it's right, it's Callum's word against David and Kylie's.

Gail is still at arms' length from Michael who is apparently facing another operation, sort of like a pacemaker. Michael was glad to see Kylie and Kylie was glad to see David though he was surprised to see her. Michael actually seemed ok to get the card from Gail. Is he starting to thaw? David isn't, not yet. And he has no right bullying Kylie just because she wanted to visit Michael. Tables turned, though, Michael wants them both there when he's in the operating room so they have to spend time with each other. Or leave and come back but where would the drama be in that?

Sophie got through the funeral. Nice wake and lots of nice little stories about Maddie, talk about hymns. I'm glad they've also shown us how upset Tim is. He and Maddie really got to be good mates. Sophie's speech was wonderful, added by all the lovely, kind comments even if they were respectfully negative but they all loved her. Sally might have been on at her to cry but everyone handles it the same way. I expect Sophie was in shock and numb through most of it until she did finally break down.

Meanwhile, Jenny, with her wig, has arrived in Hull with Jack and it sounds like she told the landlady a load of codwallop about escaping a bad relationship or something. Now, Sophie, Kevin and Rita realize that all Jack's toys and clothes and Jenny are gone. Jenny is back and forth between reality and not. Sophie discovered that Jenny, as Jenny Midgely lost her son two years ago. It's all making sense now.

Kevin's going out of his mind but Jenny's living a happy fantasy life with the little boy that replaced her lost Tom. Sometimes she knows and sometimes she doesn't from the sound of her. Her own son died in a child's pool, she left him alone for a minute to get ice cream. It can happen that fast and did and her guilt must be eating her up inside. Sally was so nasty, insinuating that Jenny killed her own child. In reality, though it does happen, it's pretty rare for a mother to do something like that under normal circumstances.

Rita is a very good support to Kevin and yet again the writers failed to bring up Kevin's loss of his own son. They apologized already for the mistake the other day and clearly it's all part and parcel of the same writer fail. Viewers are sitting and watching and just cringing at it all. Never mind. At one point Kevin did say "You can't lose two kids"... You might think he was referring to his Jake but since not one mention of it was made otherwise, and later he remarked that he "mine (my head) would be the same if I'd been through what you had", which of course, he has, any hope that they remembered and kept the continuity was just wishful thinking.

Jenny was very clearly out of control. She called Rita and she was a mess. She reached out to the only person she has in her life now. While Sophie is right in that the police should be told where Jenny is, Kevin is also right. Jenny is in a fragile state and they had to go alone so they wouldn't freak her out. It was working, too, until Kevin and then Sophie stuck their big feet into it. I do hope that Kevin doesn't charge Jenny. Rita says she's getting help, enforced but help just the same. I'd love to see her come back again but I have my doubts. As much as some of this was handled a bit ham-handed, Sally Ann Matthews played a blinder.

Erica sure looked jealous over Nick's attentions to Carla in spite of her and him both talking about their non-relationship. Nick fancies Carla and didn't mind that kiss she laid on him at all but he also admits to fancying Erica. Not overly romantic reasons for a relationship, she's a good laugh, they have good chemistry, they're a family. No words of love, though. Isn't that just going to make Gail's day!?

Carla let Alya take a fairly important meeting for a new order but Alya just whined about it. Why on earth would she think Carla is slacking off her work and letting Alya pick up the load when Alya should actually be pleased Carla has enough confidence in her to handle it. So she took the meeting and the client was a bit flirty. Alya took offence and stormed off. Carla has fielded a lot worse. It was contrived to put Alya in Jason's radar.

Carla wasn't bothered about losing the contract and Alya did admit she probably overreacted. She's not in a good state of mind, grieving and upset. When her grandfather had an asthma attack, she freaked out, afraid she'd lose him too. I can identify with that fear. Gary's worried about Alya though as Anna says, she's grieving and it's really difficult. She could do with some councilling, or talking to someone at the mosque perhaps. I think most of us can identify with what she's feeling. It must really have messed up her head for her to break the rules that she's always been so insistent on keeping. Drinking? Sex? But Gary turned him down because he knew it really wasn't what she needed even if she thinks it's what she wants so she dumped him and went out to join Jason to get drunk.

Leanne wasn't in France very long but it doesn't seem to have done Simon much good. However, she doesn't have very good news for Jason. Eva is engaged to someone else. Can you say "rebound"? Sounds like it to me. It's turned Jason to the bottle. So that's two people drunk and heart broken. Can you see where this is obviously heading? Yep, up them stairs.

Julie thinks a romance, The Holiday, with parallels to Dev's situation might help move him along. A "comely blonde" though, didn't turn out to be her, it turned out to be Talisa! And how did Mary know that Brian was back when Beth was the only one that saw him and she wasn't at the funeral or at Sally's after. Somehow she did hear it from Beth in any case. Sure took the wind out of Julie's sails but she's determined that she's moved on. And when the door went, Julie thought it was Brian but it was Talisa.

Is Brian still lurking about? Why yes, yes, he is. Julie is nervous she might run into him but she's still confident of her relationship with Dev. And why would Dev move his potential new woman in to his house with his current woman or has Julie moved back to her own flat? I love that Mary is calling Dev on his behaviour.

I think Julie is already having doubts about Talisa, who sounds positively perfect, even if she's not really aware of the whole situation. Talisa certainly knows exactly the right thing to say to flatter someone. I'm instantly suspicious she's not what she makes herself out to be. Julie keeps hinting but Talisa reckons "as soon as I get on me feet"... that could take ages! Meanwhile, Mary's suggestion that Talisa teach yoga is a good one.

Now Brian is handing Julie a round the world trip. She's not open to it. At least Ken was happy to see Brian and has offered Brian a room (Amy is staying at Steve's) so he's going to mount a campaign to win her heart. He is determined and since Dev is torn between two lovers, Brian might be the answer to Dev's conumdrum.

People wonder how Norris knows so much about Alan Bradley but really, that's bound to be legend on the street and after working/living with him for so many years, Rita and Emily both are bound to have mentioned it. Tim was really concerned about Kevin, to the point where Sally found it strange. Love the bromance going on there. Lloyd's back from the high seas! He certainly has a lot to catch up on! Wouldn't Andrea have called and updated him? Surely he wasn't out of the zone all the time?

Faye appears to be still home from school so I imagine she's doing work at home. I didn't realize that children could take time off from school like a maternity leave. I suppose that comes through Social Services or else Anna is hoping it will influence Faye to bond with the baby but that doesn't seem to be working. Faye still seems indifferent.

Ok, new storyline. 25 pounds for a tshirt because it's "designer"? And that's the knock down discount price from 100 quid??? I don't buy it and neither should they have done. It was all on Talisa's say so, too. Another shady deal? you bet. Steph sussed it out in no time. ..."Mule Face" on it. You do realize a mule could be construed as an ass since a mule is the offspring of a horse and a donkey, a jackass or a burro. Steph is right, he's been had and now the keystone cops are on a mission. Fiz is due back but before then, Luke has to sort out this mess with the tshirt guy absconding with all his mates' money. Their bright idea is to steal the back stock of tshirts and sell the gear themselves. That didn't go well, as you would expect and Chesney got left behind.

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Saturday 27 June 2015

My thoughts on the return of Jenny Bradley

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

I have absolutely loved having Sally Ann Matthews back in Corrie as Jenny Bradley. The character hails from a strong era for Coronation Street, she was part of an iconic story and Sally Ann is a great actress. She has fitted in seamlessly again after all these years and has lifted the show with every appearance. 

However. unfortunately I fear the storyline built around Jenny's return has not done her justice. The idea of Jenny having such sadness in her life and the loss of a child might have worked a whole lot better if played out differently. As is often the case these days it was used to string out the maximum amount of drama and shock headlines rather than focusing on content and storytelling. 

For a start, last night's episodes were almost painful in places. Both episodes were really badly paced, the action unfolded really slowly and all tension was lost. We knew Jenny wouldn't harm Jack, we knew she wouldn't jump and would instead, end up being carted off by the police. 

I won't comment much further on the scriptwriters' painful collective failure to mention that Kevin has previously lost a young son. It was glaringly obvious again last night, the elephant on the balcony, as it were. This isn't just pointless nitpicking by sad fans - the fact Kevin could directly empathise with Jenny's sadness would have added a much needed extra dimension to the story. 

For me, there just haven't been enough references to Jenny's past. The storyline she featured in back in the 1980s ran for over three years and remains pretty iconic. It must have had such a lasting impact on Jenny's life that you can't help but think she'd have mentioned her father more often. Twice last night, once by Sally and once by Gail, Alan Bradley's history and demise were referenced. It felt weird and contrived though, as if these comments had been grafted onto the script at the last minute. Too little, too late.

I must also comment briefly on Sophie Webster's involvement in this story. I know she is grieving for Maddie and I know she has never taken to Jenny but her actions and behaviour have been both disappointing and irritating yet again. For a supposed Christian, Sophie is quick to judge, harsh in tone and lacks remorse or empathy. As with other characters (principally Fiz) she has acted out of character for too long and it's become a habit. These Corrie women used to be full of life and good humour, now they are blatantly nasty and unpleasant.

It feels like Jenny's return was wasted to a certain extent for a series of cheap ratings stunts and after all this it doesn't look like she'll be back anytime soon. Sadly we weren't treated to nearly enough scenes between Jenny and Rita or indeed Jenny and any other established regulars. All too often these days Corrie characters interact with a small group of regulars and storylines seem to operate on very separate tracks. This does nothing to foster the sense of community, something the programme was established on many years ago.

I hope this isn't the last time we see the brilliant Sally Ann Matthews in Coronation Street. I thought the onscreen relationship between Kevin and Jenny could have worked out long term. Whatever Sally Ann does next, I wish her all the best. Thank you for bringing Jenny back to life, I just wish I'd enjoyed the storyline more.

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39 signs you’re addicted to Coronation Street

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

Reposted with permission. By Alice Wright for Metro

It’s our longest running popular drama series, the soap opera by which all others must be judged and as much a part of our British heritage as the royal family and pots of tea.

Strong female characters, recognisable domestic situations, sharp humour lightening the angst, woven into the very fabric of our society Britain still stands as long as there is Coronation Street.

Most of us love it to some degree, but some of us love it just a bit too much… let’s see if you’ve the signs of a Corrie addiction:

1. When someone mentions ‘the street’ you don’t assume it’s the one you or they live on.

2. The only cat to own is a ginger one. Hilda and Tony and Barlow are good names for it.

3. You ask for a barm in Greggs.

4. When meeting someone French you have the urge to say “Je m’appelle Raquel’.

5. You’ve attempted to make a hot pot.

6. And you’ve tried to track down a real blood sausage.

7. Also, stuffed marrow is a thing.

8. The fact Les Dennis joined the show after Mavis Riley left to run a B&B is one of the world’s greatest missed opportunities. Because… I don’t really know Vera.

9. Ken Morley let you down on CBB.

10. You know the real owner of the Rovers Return was Betty.

11. It’s not an alley, it’s a ginnel.

12. And cabin is spelt with a K.

13. Forget Mr Darcy walking out of the pond… have you SEEN Ken Barlow with his shirt all undone after the classic 1983 fight scene with Deirdre? Well hose me down with Newton & Ridley’s finest.

14. In fact a row isn’t a row unless you’re growling this at each other: ‘I wanted you.’ ‘You never wanted me.’

15. You’d never trust anyone called Tracy. Or Terry.

16. If you’re lucky enough to find a pub with one you’ll always sit in the Snug.

17. You’d never ride a bike down a cobbled street.

18. And you’ve never really felt safe on a tram.

19. You’ve remembered the best Blanche one-liners just so you have a put down for any situation. ‘Good looks are a curse, you should count yourself lucky’ is a particular fave and most useful.

20. The bigger the spectacles the better. This applies to both men and women.

21. You know only one woman in the whole world can rock leopard skin AND a beehive.

22. And hairnets and headscarves were a thing long before the hipsters got their ironic hands on them. Turbans too.

23. OK she has little to do these days but the Street would surely shut down if anything happened to Rita?

24. If your name ends in Y or IE it’s pronounced EH.

25. You know that women over 50 have to cut their hair shorter and style it into a big, wavy helmet.

26. And you know that women called Gail should NEVER EVER marry.

27. You’d never want a child born at Christmas because they turn out to be wrong’uns. Looking at you David Platt and Rosie Webster.

29. You know quite a bit about the stitching on gussets and elasticated lace.

30. There’s not a cat fight in the world that can’t be broken up by snarling ‘Hey lady’.

31. Balding blokes with a paunch and a twenty a day habit are actually quite attractive.

32. You’ve ordered half a mild just to see what it tasted like.

33. You own a Free The Weatherfield One t-shirt.

34. And three flying china ducks grace your walls.

35. Only Jim McDonald gets to call Liz Elizabeth.

36. Brassy. One of the best insults ever.

37. Jack & Vera. Ken & Deirdre. Roy & Hayley. Forever.

38. You know that every single situation on earth can be improved instantaneously by putting the kettle on.

39. But the best time on earth to put the kettle on is when those instantly recognisable lackadaisical trumpets herald the start of the greatest show on TV.

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Friday 26 June 2015

Corrie's affectionate nod to Patrick Macnee

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

The sad passing of actor Patrick Macnee was announced yesterday.  The actor was best known for playing Steed in The Avengers.

Coronation Street's senior storyline writer, Martin Sterling took to twitter to say that one of Underworld's clients in Corrie was named after Patrick Macnee.  Martin has 'protected tweets' on twitter and has given me permission to post a screen grab of his tweet, below.

Martin tells us here at the Coronation Street Blog that calling Underworld clients Macnee's was an affectionate nod as he was a huge fan of The Avengers growing up.

Read more about Martin Sterling here.

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Anne Kirkbride's memorial - the view from a Corrie fan

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

Paul Lanagan is a Coronation Street fan and a very talented artist.

You can follow him on twitter @corrieart and he's also on facebook

Paul attended Anne Kirkbride's memorial service held on Saturday May 30 in Manchester Cathedral. He has very generously offered to write up a blog post for us to share here on the Coronation Street Blog.  

And so, it's over to Paul.  All photographs and images on this blog post are those created by or photos taken by Paul.

Anne Kirkbride, known to millions of TV viewers as Deirdre Barlow, passed away on January 19th 2015. The sad news was broadcast after that evening's gripping Coronation Street episode which had featured a dramatic minibus crash.

As an artist whose work is based on the programme and shared via Twitter, I was in the middle of a witty drawing showing Jurassic Park's T-Rex pushing the minibus over - but the news of Anne's death shocked and upset me so I started a new drawing which featured Deirdre's iconic specs shedding a tear onto the Coronation Street sign.  The image went viral and was shared by shocked fans far and wide.

Anne Kirkbride's funeral was a private affair however a public memorial was later announced to be taking place at Manchester Cathedral to give Anne's colleagues, friends, family and fans the opportunity to come together and acknowledge Anne's contribution to TV drama. 

Owing to space restrictions in the cathedral, only a limited number of fans were allowed access, prompting some to queue outside from dawn. I headed to the cathedral bright and early and saw that Corrie fans Brian Altman, Pamela Pinder and Elaine Davies were first in the queue for the memorial service.

Elaine, from nearby Prestwich, said, "I have appeared in Corrie as I sing in the choir and they've filmed scenes in my church, St Mary the Virgin. It was Peter and Leanne Barlow's blessing and I met Anne Kirkbride. She was lovely, very friendly."

Pamela, of Stockport, said, "I am here today as I just want to pay my respects to Anne Kirkbride."

Corrie fans Paul Lanagan (left) and Brian Altman (right)
Brian, 53, who had travelled all the way from Glasgow to attend the memorial, said, "I have been queuing since six o'clock this morning. I was devastated and never expected it. It was such a shock. Anne will be missed on screen by us all."

With many hours to wait on the cold north side of the church, fans passed the time by talking about their favourite Deirdre Barlow moments and the line: "Jelly shouldn't run, it should wobble!" was often heard, along with mentions of the famous Barlow AA meeting scene and of course Deirdre's affair with Mike Baldwin.

Brian, a self-confessed Corrie super fan, regaled the crowd with stories and anecdotes about the show. He said, "I have visited the Street's external set many times on the old Granada Studios Tour and I have all the merchandise - Tony Warren would be proud of me! If I ever win the lottery I'd like to have the cheque presented to me on the new Coronation Street set and I'd give a thousand pounds to each of the Corrie actors' chosen charities!"

While we all waited, I noticed that a pigeon was clucking about at the top of the steps next to the cathedral's door. Pigeons are of course Corrie icons and it made me smile as I waited, wondering what to expect once inside.

There was a very positive vibe amongst the crowd and the hours soon passed as journalists came and went. Fans were then led into the cathedral and took seats in the north aisle while Anne's friends and colleagues were sat in the centre. The church soon filled with the most famous faces from British television including, as expected, a whole host of Coronation Street actors, writers and production team, plus many other TV stars.

At times it felt intrusive to be there; most, if not all of those who knew Anne personally (especially husband David Beckett) were still visibly upset at their loss. Sat in front of me were three elderly ladies who were taken aback each time they saw a recognisable character such as Ken Barlow, Liz McDonald, Audrey Roberts and many others. The ladies were very much like Ena, Minnie and Martha - and as they sat there rolling off names of Corrie characters it reminded me that Anne Kirkbride, through her acting, had touched the lives of millions of people and it was only right that those should be allowed to remember and pay thanks to Anne for that.

The cathedral was full to capacity and clips of noteworthy Deirdre Barlow scenes were played on screens before the service started at half past eleven. The service was conducted by the cathedral's Sub Dean, Philip Barratt, and hymns were performed by Manchester Cathedral choir.

Actor William Roache MBE read a touching poem called "She is Gone" while actresses Beverley Callard and Elle Mulvaney gave moving tributes full of warm memories.

Corrie Producer Stuart Blackburn arriving at the cathedral
Corrie Executive Producer Kieran Roberts arriving at the cathedral
Corrie's Executive Producer, Kieran Roberts, and production crew members Paul Sparrow, Ciaron Hatzar and Stephen Polack also paid tribute to Anne. Kieran, echoed the same sentiments of all those who spoke about Anne, saying she was "a warm, talented and fun-loving lady" and "she was genuinely one of the most decent and honourable people you could ever wish to meet."

You can read more about the service and the readings here.

Musical contributions came from a recording of Il Dolce Suono performed by Maria Callas, a live performance of Caruso by tenor Tom Spence, and a beautiful performance of Mozart's Sonata in G by Roman Lytwynlw and James Ellis of Chetham's School of Music.

A powerful and personal tribute from Anne's brother John Kirkbride was read out by close family friend Philip Hampson. But the most poignant and emotional parts of the service came from Anne Kirkbride herself when personal video clips of the actress were shown on screen. One, which showed Anne playing "Oh Susanna" on the harmonica and scaring her cat, had everybody laughing out loud!

At the end of the hour long service we were told that some music had been chosen to make us smile just as Anne would have wanted. The famous EastEnders duff, duff, duffs echoed out across the cathedral but were soon drowned out by laughter as everyone rose to leave.

Having toasted Anne's memory with a glass of the aptly named "Annie's Fizz" in Jenny McAlpine's restaurant Annie's, I then spent the evening visiting the old Coronation Street set at the former Granada Studios site.

The place was deserted save for a few pipistrelle bats which swooped from the eaves of the Rovers Return.

As I sat on the cobbles on the darkened street reflecting on the day's poignant events, the voice of Deirdre Barlow echoed out from the speakers in the backyards of the Street: "Salford girl, marries a wrong un, then finds love in later life when a dashin' white sergeant sweeps her off her feet...love on the cobbles."

Anne Kirkbride is gone, but she will never be forgotten.

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Let's talk about Simon

(Reposted from State of the Street with permission)

Let's talk about Simon Barlow, played by Alex Bain since 2008.

The lad is going to be 12 next month and has had more tragedy in his short life than most soap characters have in a lifetime. The only one even close to his tragedy level might be Carla Connor or Leanne Battersby but it's far more damaging to a child. The adults can be termed "survivors". I fear Simon is going to be termed "damaged". We've started to see him having anger management issues, no, let's call that Rampant Rage Syndrome (RRS), shall we?

We saw how trauma affected David Platt as he went through his teens and that was after only one divorce and an attempted murder. Let's have a look at the incidents that have happened to Simon, shall we?

At the age of five, his mother dies of cancer and his life is upset by having to live with a father he never knew, a father who was, at the time, a raging alcoholic who nearly burned down the flat with Simon in it one night. A raging alcoholic that interrupted the school nativity (and it would prove not to be the last time that happened).

His father, Peter, gets together with Leanne who mothers the little boy but then Peter's drinking drives her away. Lost mother #2. Ah, but Leanne is eventually persuaded to return because Peter has stopped drinking.

The tram crashes and Simon again nearly dies in a fire, trapped in Number 13 but is rescued by Jason. Peter nearly dies in the tram crash. It's touch and go for a few days but he and Leanne marry in hospital. Ah, but Leanne had been having an affair with her ex-husband, Nick and Peter finds out after Nick has been manipulating Peter into drinking again. Peter chucks out Leanne but she ends up being persuaded to stay after all. Simon probably thinks Peter has installed a revolving door at the flat by now.
Simon meets his maternal grandparents. You might think that's a good thing. Except after Peter's alcohol problem surfaces again, the grandparents try to take Simon away from Peter. They take the lad to Blackpool but when he overhears that they won't take him home again, he runs off and finds his way back on his own. Grandparents back off, never to be heard from again, and Peter stops drinking again.

His beloved Grandma Blanche dies.

Peter and Leanne are back together. Leanne gets pregnant. Yay! Leanne miscarries. Oh no! Peter starts an affair with Carla which comes out during a trial where Carla is has been charged with murdering her rapist, Frank. Leanne leaves again. Carla moves in. Leanne is determined to have custody of Simon because Peter is unstable and Simon hates Carla. She is also reconciled with her ex, Nick. Simon doesn't handle the conflict very well and gets hold of a bottle of wine that Carla sneaked in the house. Well, booze is always how his father handled anger and upset, right? Wakeup call for Peter who allows Simon to be with Leanne.

Simon grows to love Nick but he nearly dies in a car accident and is suffering brain damage that makes him tempermental. Leanne and Nick break up. Simon has lost another father figure.

Simon is bullied by Faye and Grace.

He meets another grandma, Stella, who nearly dies in a car crash, nearly dies in a fire and then leaves town shortly after his great-grandma Gloria. 

His Grandpa Ken left Weatherfield for a year and a half.

He even had a pet rabbit that died.

Simon eventually gets over his hatred for Carla though she's never his favourite person. Peter and Carla marry and Peter starts an affair with Tina shortly after. This doesn't bode well. Simon becomes very close to Tina who is helping out Carla (both before the affair and after it) by babysitting and hanging out with Simon who grows to love her. Tina is murdered and his father is arrested and goes on trial for her murder. Peter's affair with Tina and the stress of juggling two women have him back in the bottle again. When Tina is murdered, Peter is jailed and goes on trial. Peter loses Carla in the process and though he's found innocent, eventually, he leaves Weatherfield to start fresh. Simon has now lost his father.

Leanne takes up with Kal and he moves in. Simon grows to love Kal. You guessed it. Kal dies in a fire (this time, at least, Simon is not trapped in the fire!)

His anger is starting to be difficult for him to handle. He's lashed out once so far, throwing a tv remote control at Leanne's face after Kal's death. According to the spoilers, he's going to be held hostage with Leanne by one of her former clients (from when she was a hooker). He's also about to lose his beloved Grandma Deirdre.

All this in about a 7 year span of his young life. Fans complain that the powers that be don't seem to have Simon acting his age. He's crayoning cards for people, he's clinging on to them for dear life. Can you blame him? He's not had much of a childhood, he's probably experiencing a severe case of arrested development and I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't already started picking the wings off insects for fun.

What's down the road for Simon? Will someone ever take that lad to get counselling? Will he surpass David Platt as the town tearaway? A child with that much anger already is doomed. I fully expect a storyline dealing with teenage alcoholism or drug abuse in Simon's near future. There is a genetic predisposition for addiction and with the things that kid has had to deal with, he's a prime candidate.

Time will tell.

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Thursday 25 June 2015

15 seconds of Corrie fame

Sad that I am, I still get a little thrill seeing my name (or, in this case, my online nickname) in print in the media.

This week on Coronation Street, as we all know, the character of Kevin Webster remarked that "It must be hard to bury a child". Social media went up in flames as long time fans gave Corrie a virtual smackdown over the mistake. Kevin Webster lost an infant son 15 years ago *this week*.  Had Kevin forgotten? Clearly the writers and producer did. They're supposed to have an on-staff archivist that checks things like that but in recent years they've been woefully slack and the fans pick up stuff like this all the time.

The producer, Stuart Blackburn, spoke to one of the tabloids yesterday and apologised for the mistake. I can't see the article because it's in the Sun and you have to have a subscription and...it's The Sun. Why would I?

However, other media have picked it up and repeated it and in one that I saw, my online nickname jumped off the screen at the end. I remember the quote, I posted it as a comment on the initial post about the issue here.

This didn't use the full comment, though. I suppose it wasn't too flattering to use it all!

(Happy Birthday to Bethany, by the way. I think her family has forgotten. It happened the same week.)

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Fallen Women

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

A month ago I wrote a blog post about how much I was enjoying Jenny Bradley's return to the Street.  In it, I said:

On top of that, her over-reactions to Jack's illnesses hint at a horrible secret.  I've avoided the spoilers, so I don't know what she's hiding, but I'm guessing at a dead child somewhere in her past.  I hope whatever it is comes out in a sympathetic way, and that Jenny gets the help she needs to overcome her demons.  I'd rather see that than, for example, a melodramatic kidnap of Jack followed by her falling into the canal.

I was completely wrong about that.  Apparently she's not going to fall in the canal.  She's going to kidnap Jack and then threaten to chuck herself off a balcony.

This is a completely different storyline to that time Casey kidnapped Freddie Peacock and threatened to chuck herself off a balcony.

It's also nothing like that time Brenda Fearns kidnapped Bethany Platt and threatened to chuck herself off a church roof.

Or the other time Bethany was kidnapped, when Alison Webster threatened to chuck herself under a truck.

Or when Sally Norton kidnapped Tracy Barlow from outside the Rovers and threatened to chuck herself in the canal.

No, this is completely different, because Jenny has red hair.  It's all very disheartening.  As I wrote back in April, Jenny has been a joy.  She's clearly got issues, but she could have worked them out with Kevin.  She could have told him that she lost a child once, had a cry, and the two of them could have got her the help she needed.  Kevin has also lost a child so he'd understand.  I'm sure Rita would have rushed to help too, not least because she always wanted children and could never have them.  All they had to do was act like mature adults.

Instead, they've gone sensationalist, and ruined it all.  Once again we're getting the vaguely misogynistic "women who lose a child immediately go nuts" storyline.  Once again a toddler is being threatened.  Once again the police are going to march off a potentially interesting character in handcuffs.

I'm left feeling cheated.  It's suddenly clear that the only reason they brought Jenny Bradley back was so they could skip the early stages of courtship.  Since Kevin and Jenny already knew each other, the writers didn't need to bother with her earning his trust - they could just jump straight to the bit where he leaves his son with a nutjob he's only been dating a couple of months.  I'm left feeling annoyed that Sophie Webster's petulant strops and childish behaviour is going to be presented as justifiable because she knew that Jenny was a wrong 'un.

Most of all I'm sad that we're probably going to lose a great, fun actress in Sally Ann Matthews because treating the audience as grown-ups who can appreciate an emotional storyline isn't as important as a dramatic picture on the front of Inside Soap.  Sally has been funny, sexy, clever, and now she's presumably being sent off to the Psychopath Wing of Weatherfield Women's Prison (a wing that must be suffering from terrible overcrowding by now).  But never mind: Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud is coming into the show!  And Paddy McGuinness!  And someone who used to be in The Bill!  And someone who used to be in Casualty!

Good times.

EDIT: Llywela pointed out in the comments that, after losing her own baby to meningitis, Zoe Tattersall kidnapped Morgan Middleton and threatened to chuck herself off a bridge.  Any further examples gratefully received.

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