Friday 31 July 2015

Who are your favourite Corrie friends?

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

Yesterday, July 30th was International Friendship Day as decreed by the United Nations.

In honour of the day, who are your favourite sets of Coronation Street friends?

Here are some of my favourites but perhaps you can add to this list.

Steve and Lloyd

Rita and Mavis

Chesney and Schmeichel

There's also the potential for a wonderful bromance between Kevin and Tim.

And of course, the wonderful friendship between Minnie and Ena. 

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Fab Photo - Deirdre's Hen Night

(This post was originally posted by Sunny Jim on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2015.)

It's Friday again so it's time for this week's fab Coronation Street photo. Here's Deirdre on her hen do.

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

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 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
Melanie Hill (Cathy Matthews) backed Sunderland's #WearHere campaign. Read it here.
Catherine Tyldesley (Eva Price) attends restaurant anniversary party. Read it here.
Antony Cotton (Sean Tully) works as a bingo caller. Read it here.
Catherine Tyldesley (Eva Price) and Katie McGlynn (Sinead Tinker) attend opening of new Manchester restaurant. Read it here.
Samia Ghadie (Maria Connor) supports campaign to help pregnant mums quit smoking. Read it here.
Kym Marsh (Michelle McDonald) celebrates her parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Read it here.
Newcomer Faye Brookes (who will play Kate Connor) is the girlfriend of singer Gareth Gates. Read it here.
Jennie McAlpine (Fiz Stape) supports campaign to help new mums in prison. Read it here.

Ex-Corrie cast members
Olive Ratner, who starred in Corrie's opening credits, celebrates her 100th birthday. Read it here.
Sue Johnston (Gloria Price) sells artwork to raise funds for Hillsborough Campaign. Read it here.
Ian Puleston-Davies (Owen Armstrong) opened the Mulbery Centre Festival. Read it here.
Sally Anne Matthews (Jenny Bradley) visits chocolate shop in Wales. Read it here.
Wendi Peters (Cilla Battersby-Brown) says "It would be lovely to go back to Corrie". Read it here.

Alan Titchmarsh wants a role on Coronation Street. Read it here.

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Why I never want Tracy Barlow to be good

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

Tracy Barlow is a villain amongst villains in the world of soap.  But now, after the death of Deirdre, it looks like Tracy's turning over a new leaf. 

Please, Corrie, no, leave her as bad as she is.

We all hate Tracy because she's so bad. That's the joy in watching her. I'm not buying into her new sunny disposition because it can't be allowed to last. That's how soaps work, we need evil Tracy to boo and hiss at from our sofa. That's what she's there for.  I don't want her to change. 

My guess is that the redemption of Tracy Barlow will be a short-lived affair.  Our blogger Emma wrote a wonderful piece on Tracy's Choice.  My feeling is that gripped with grief after her mum's death and after a stern talking-to from Peter, Tracy will choose to change... but it won't last.  Evil will out. Please.

Let's have a look at some of the evil that is Tracy Barlow.

She started off being a troublesome teenager - and here's the classic scene when she's just found out, from Maggie Redman, about Deirdre's affair with Mike.

But being a troubled teenager isn't that bad in itself. We've all gone through it.

There was worse to come when Tracy slept with Blanche's boyfriend Wally after she thought he was worth a fortune. He wasn't.

But then things turned darker.  Jealous that boyfriend Charlie Stubbs had got his ex-girlfriend Shelley Unwin up the duff, Tracy's inner-devil outed itself. She wasn't going to let Charlie get away with cheating on her. Fair enough.  But Tracy went too far, she turned into psycho-Tracy. She burned her own arm on the iron and pretended that Charlie had given her the injury. Then she killed him, claiming self-defence.

Then she laid a one-penny bet with Bev Unwin that she could get Roy Cropper into bed. She drugged Roy's drink and dragged him home, making out that they'd had ess-ee-ex when they hadn't.  When Tracy became pregnant with Steve's baby, she told Roy it was his child. The storyline saw por Roy driven to contemplate suicide.

Roy did the decent thing, in his mind, and married Tracy for the sake of what he thought was 'their' child, and all the while Tracy knew it was Steve's.  Roy and Hayley handed over thousands of pounds to Tracy in exchange for the baby which they named Patience Cropper.  When the truth came out, they had to hand the baby back and Tracy renamed her Amy Katherine instead.

When Steve was going out with Becky McDonald, he slept with Tracy after an argument with Becky. Tracy ended up pregnant with twins but miscarried both babies. She lied to everyone and said that Becky had pushed her down the stairs, causing the miscarriage. Becky discovered proof of the real reason for Tracy's miscarriage and showed Steve the doctor's note - right after he'd gone and wed Tracy. Now that's a lesson in getting revenge. Tracy could learn a thing or two. It'd be much less painful than burning your own stupid arm on your iron.

And most recent of all, Tracy caused the fire in Victoria Court which led to the death of Kal Nazir and Maddie Heath.  She's letting Carla Connor think the fire and the deaths were all her fault.  If Tracy does redeem herself, will she admit this to Carla and to everyone?

It has to come out, it must. These things never stay hidden in the world of soap.  But when it does come out, and even if Tracy and Carla hug and make-up (which seems unlikely), please Mr Corrie Man, can we have nasty Tracy back again?

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Thursday 30 July 2015

Corrie Canada sneak previews for August 3 - 7

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

Simon lashes out again. Liz faces Tony. Michael has two women after him and has something to say to both of them. Sally's impressed by Kevin's plans. Tim proposes. Tracy and Robert spend the night together but then Tracy finds out that Robert has a secret. Callum lures Bethany into doing his dirty work. The Tinkers and Dobbs are going on holiday together.

For more details and photos, visit the Moosejaw Mercury at

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Wanted: Spirited shopkeeper for Weatherfield store

(This post was originally posted by Clinkers (David) on the Coronation Street Blog in August 2013.)

Like many others, I went into a bit of a slump on hearing the news that Katy Cavanagh had decided to hang up her high heels and take her leave of the Street. Joyous Julie will be no more. While it's great news for the actor, Katy's impending departure scuppers my plans for her to reign supreme in the Corner Shop. Of course, these plans begin and end in my own mind. Who could be bothered with the minutiae of real life when you can gaze out of the window and map out the rise and rise of the People's Doris Day?

For me, the Corner Shop symbolises a wasted opportunity. Forever and a day it has been central to life on the Street but of late, the shop has become marginalised. I think there may be a staffing problem. Now don't get me wrong - I'm partial to a bit of Comedy Dev and even So-feh has her moments. Together though, they ain't Team Shop.

The dream teams at number fifteen are numerous. Maggie and Norma. Alf and the incomparable Deirdre. Alf and Sally. Maureen and Maud. Memorable colleagues one and all. Sometimes the pairings floundered. The Welsh granny and Nora Batty were about as appetising as a Marmite and coleslaw balm cake. Tricia and Gail were a giggling nightmare. Ravi 'dear lady' Desai and his miserable daughter. Brendan Scott and Emily 'Upstairs Downstairs' Bishop.

It's about time the shop was back where it belongs, at the heart of this small community. That doesn't mean turning back the clock forty years and littering the place with bacon slicers and people coughing over the cake selections. The shop needs a strong female presence. Maybe a woman in her late forties, possibly freshly divorced or widowed, setting out on a new adventure in life. Her own shop. With the kids off her hands, this is now 'her time'. Of course, the kids would soon roll up and disrupt things but it could be an interesting story.

Years ago, the Street had fewer places for social interaction. If you weren't knocking down a milk stout in the Rovers or dropping off your order with Maggie/Renee (delete as applicable) then your only other chance for a gossip indoors would have been to jam yourself in Rita's lending library/café with Uncle Albert. Nowadays, the Street residents can ricochet from gym to café to kebab shop to Weatherfield General.

The Corner Shop could have been Julie's little bit of heaven but it's not be. However, it's time for this palace of provisions to regain its rightful place at the heart of Street life. We want a cheery, no-nonsense shopkeeper serving up homespun philosophies, a shoulder to cry on - and no eclairs.

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Conversation Street podcast 158

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

Deirdre's funeral happened this week and Gemma and Michael discuss whether Tracy really will change. Carla's gambling is getting worse. Leanne tells Liz about Dan and she publically humiliates him. Something tells us all that we haven't seen the last of Dan! There's a discussion about death on Coronation Street in addition to news and feedback.

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Wednesday 29 July 2015

Liz and Deirdre - Sisters are doin' It for themselves

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

A guest blog post from Coronation Street Blog reader (and one of our Corrie fans of the week) ELK.

"With Deirdre's funeral the focus this week, several comments have appeared asking about Liz and Deirdre's friendship, even wondering why, if they're such good friends, we haven't seen them together on screen more often. This led me to search the wiki-annals for episodes from the 90s featuring scenes between them, except that I could hardly find any mention, possibly because those scenes were less central to plot events than they were to developing a dialogue and bond, like Steve and Lloyd shooting the breeze in StreetCars today.  It doesn't mean the scenes aren't there, but it requires delicate sifting to find them: for instance, Liz dropping by Deirdre's house in 1990 to apologise for Andy's antics in Ken's classroom (Andy wrote KB hearts WC, as in Ken Barlow loves Wendy Crozier, on the blackboard), or Liz, at the Rovers in 1997, encouraging Deirdre to visit Jon Lindsay at work on New Year's Eve, thus prompting the chain of events that would lead to Deirdre's discovery of his criminal web of lies.

For me, however, one of the most memorable Liz-Deirdre episodes took place in 1997 when Sally found out about Kevin's affair with Natalie Horrocks.  Upon getting confirmation from Bill Webster about the affair, Sal turns on her heel and heads for Natalie's house, but first she has to find someone to care for her girls. Meeting Deirdre in the street, she asks her to look after Rosie and Sophie while she nips out. Deirdre says she can't because she's going to the pictures with Liz. Sally hurriedly confides the reason for her taking off and Deirdre, immediately grasping the urgency of the situation, takes the two young girls back to her flat. There, she and Liz, waiting for Sally's return, discuss the ins and outs of cheating. Liz asks “Why d'you think people do it?” to which Deirdre – an expert at this point  – answers “You just get drawn into it, you don't realise the consequences... “  Liz wants to put Kevin down as a liar, but Deirdre is more magnanimous: “Maybe he's not. Maybe he just wasn't happy with Sally. You don't know how people are. You get bored, envious, it doesn't take much.”

This is the main thing I miss about the old Corrie - less judgment, less getting up on the high horse all around. On a street where neighbours live together in a fishbowl, ready to gossip at the drop of a hat, characters like Deirdre, and Emily as well, have served as bellwethers over the years, reminding others that not everything is as it seems, that, despite hearing arguments through thin walls, despite spying suspicious behaviour in the ginnels, despite a sense of entitled intrusiveness every which way, still, it's key to remember: “you don't know how people are.”

Liz and Deirdre's conversation in that episode isn't heavy. Deirdre tosses off her hard-earned truths like airy smoke rings from a cigarette. Almost in mid-thought they decide to ring up Sally to find out if she's back, in case there's still time to catch their flick. Meanwhile, Sally is back at hers sobbing, ignoring the phone, and bracing for a showdown with Kevin. We already know that Sally's personal tragedy will require more than a brief babysitting stint and that Liz and Deirdre will end up watching a video at home. It's an episode full of mature understanding and a worthwhile moral:  even if not all endings are sweet, at least you can depend on the fact that your neighbours aren't perfect either, they won't lord it over you, and will even sacrifice a night out at the pictures to extend a helping hand.

When I think about the origins of Coronation Street, I always think about the buried subtext: a series conceived by a gay man who, by sheer accident of his orientation, lived outside of conventional morality and occupied a unique perspective from which to critique it. This perspective also allowed him to identify with female characters who defied conventional morality and through whom he was able to express his own painful wisdom. Deirdre was certainly one of these characters and Liz her loyal confidante.

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Who is Robert Preston, Tracy Barlow's ex-husband?

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

Tracy Barlow's ex-husband Robert Preston will return to Coronation Street very soon. This time he'll be played by Casualty actor Tristan Gemmill, pictured above.

It's time then to look back at who Robert Preston is and give those of us who remember him a reminder. For those who don't remember Robert, here he is in a nutshell.

Robert Preston hasn't been seen on Corrie since New Year's Day 2003. Robert will return with an ex-wife in tow in the form of  Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding who has been cast in the role.

Actor Julian Kay played the original Robert Preston
Robert Preston was Tracy Barlow's first husband and they were married in November 1996. They were going to tie the knot in London, and not tell Ken and Deirdre the news but Tracy decided to marry in Weatherfield instead as it was cheaper.

Robert Preston and Tracy Barlow on their wedding day 1996
They married at the Register Office. Tracy bought a £14 wedding dress.  After their wedding, the couple left the street and moved to that London.

Ken and Deirdre tried to reconcile Tracy and Robert
Tracy had an affair in 2002 leading her to run back to Weatherfield and later divorce Robert, to Deirdre's shock. Deirdre tried to change Tracy's mind about Robert, but she simply refused to go back to him.

Tracy's other husbands include Roy Cropper and Steve McDonald.

Glenda Young
Flaming Nora Blog / Twitter  

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Tuesday 28 July 2015

Tracy's Choice

(This post was originally posted by Emma Hynes on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2015.)
Chris Gascoyne’s much anticipated return was the icing on the most satisfying of cakes that was last night’s Corrie. I’ve already written about this exceptional episode this morning, and so would like to devote this particular blog to Peter’s home truths.

After Ken unleashed a well deserved tongue lashing on the ever petulant Tracy, and headed for a much needed lie down, Peter forced her to face up to how he sees things playing out in the future.

He was upfront about being scared for Amy and told Tracy in no uncertain terms that Deirdre was too. He then presented a selection of choices in what was a powerful scene:

“One of two things is going to happen.

She’s going to take you as a blueprint and be just as hated by the people around here as you are and just as alone.

Personally I’m banking on things going the other way.

I hope that she sees how much people despise you on this street. I hope she hears about every rotten trick you’ve pulled and every bridge that you’ve burned and she comes to hate you for it. I’d sooner she hated you than was hated by the whole world, because unless you do something about it, they’re her only choices.

But there might still be time.”

While Peter presents two choices for Amy, he offers a third, and that belongs to Tracy. Amy can elect to be like her mother, or hate her, but if Tracy chooses to mend her ways, it may not be too late to save them both.

Judging from the child’s attitude and behaviour, it looks as if option one is already in train, so Tracy would want to act fast.

Some interesting questions have appeared in the comments section of Jordan’s episode review courtesy of an anonymous poster. This person asks those who feel that Tracy can never be redeemed what it would take, if anything, for her to pay her dues. They ask “are there any terms under which you would accept her presence on the street, or must she be sentenced to death or life in prison?

When will the feud between viewers and Tracy Barlow end? Can it ever end?

These are certainly valid questions. Whenever this issue comes up, it is often remarked that it is too late for Tracy, that she is terminally villainous and it would be unrealistic for her to change at this point. But I feel it would be more unrealistic for her to continue as she always has done after last night, and so I hope she does try to change. If she doesn’t, where else does her character go?

While they admittedly haven’t committed murder, there are plenty of characters on the Street, past and present, who have done deplorable things for which they have been all but forgiven. Is Tracy beyond this purely because of the nature of her crime, or is it because of who she is?

As far as I'm concerned, yes, Tracy has committed murder and more besides, but I feel we have to believe in the capacity of anyone to turn their lives around, at any point. Perhaps the death of her mother and the wrath of her father and brother will provide her with a long awaited and much needed epiphany. And let's face it, if it doesn't come after last night's episode, it surely never will.

If she does decide to take the honest path, however, surely step one would have to be confessing to lighting the candle that started the fire in Victoria Court. But where would that leave her?

What do you think? Is Tracy beyond redemption? Does it need to happen now or never? Does it even matter? What should happen to her from here on in?

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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Kate Ford on Tracy's ex-husband Robert Preston

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

How does Tracy feel when she spots her ex-husband in the crowd at Deirdre’s funeral? When did she last see Robert?
Tracy’s really struggling on the day of the funeral. She’s in bits over her mum and also struggling with guilt over the fire, but Ken’s still being really cold and she’s only just holding it together. So when Tracy spots Robert she’s shocked but overwhelmed to see a familiar face and loves that he is there to support and care for her.

What makes her kiss him?
Tracy can’t face the wake and heads home alone but when Robert knocks at the door she admits she could do with some company. He makes her some food and Tracy’s really touched by how caring he is. He says all the right things and he’s there when she desperately needs some comfort.

What does Ken make of Robert’s surprise arrival?

Ken is furious to find Tracy kissing Robert on the day of the funeral. They’re in his house and that’s not what Ken expected to see when he got home. He shouts at Robert to get out, he thinks Tracy’s sunk lower than ever but she just wanted to blot out the pain.

How does Tracy feel about Peter’s arrival – is she pleased to see him?

Peter arrives while Tracy’s in the midst of a massive row with Ken. Yes she’s pleased to see him but his timing is not great. She’s angry with Ken, she’s so angry that Peter missed the funeral and she just erupts. They all give each other a few home truths.

Was it emotional filming the Barlows scenes where they go over their family history?
Yes it felt really sad. It still feels like Annie is here with us.

Do you think Tracy sees Robert as a means of filling the void left by her ex Rob or is their real feeling there?
Robert’s there when she needs someone, he’s saying all the right things and she likes that he likes her so much, even after all this time apart. I think she also likes the fact that he’s completely detached from all of the drama she’s had over the past couple of years.

Does Tracy have any suspicions about Robert’s motives?
No, she is very confident in herself in that way.

Ken’s concerned that Tracy might be burying her grief for her mum – is this the case?
Yes I think so to a certain extent. Tracy loved her mum more than anyone else in the world and without Deirdre’s constant, unwavering support, her life is going to be very different. I think Robert is the only other person who has ever truly loved Tracy for what she is, warts and all, so she’s throwing herself back into that relationship.

Do you see Deirdre’s death as a turning point for Tracy?
We will see. Some of what Peter says strikes a chord with her, she does love her daughter and she’s determined to make some changes.

Can you see a happy-ever-after for her and Robert?
Probably not if history is anything to go by!

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Luckless Leanne

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

Tracy’s first steps to redemption, making breakfast and trying to make up with Carla, seemed to have the touch of sincerity about them. It is very early days though and her real redemption will begin when she confesses about having started the fire in Carla’s flat.

Robert is confusing. We know he’s married and he lied to his wife on the phone in The Rovers. I need to be convinced much more by this enduring love for Tracy, though. So far, it just strikes me as odd. He’s no slouch though and saw off the thugs in Barlow’s Buys.

Really though, Tracy aside, could things get any worse for Leanne? Simon is rude and offensive to her and yes he’s not the first  and he won’t be the last  adolescent to be rude or offensive to a parent. Simon though, has had much to deal with and he receives another wallop, this one from his dad, his very part-time dad, the dad who claims to love Simon above everyone. So, Peter has a job in Antigua! It may only be for six months, initially, but it’s hardly Stockport. 'It's good news really,' says Peter. 'What is it Peter?' asks Leanne, almost guessing, from her tone, that the good news will not be good news for her or Simon. Peter is non-plussed when Simon declares his intention to come with him. Leanne points out the impracticality of it and Simon throws this at her, 'You just don't want us to be happy.' Who said life was fair?

Leanne’s facial expressions speak volumes. Just when she needs support, Peter becomes unattainable. Thank goodness for Nick then, who is more of a dad to Simon, than Peter is. Simon’s aggression is going to deteriorate and Leanne will hopefully lean on Ken as she struggles with his behaviour. Just to add to her woes, while at work in the Bistro, Leanne gets a call from Simon's school to say he has been fighting and has been suspended.

Leanne is still grieving for Kal, too and the marriage that never will be. 

Then there is the charmless Dan. Is Liz so desperate for a man that she has to take up with this guy? Is he useful to her in that when Tony does return, she will be able to make him jealous? Granted, she doesn’t know about his violence towards Leanne when she was a prostitute, but Liz does know something is wrong as demonstrated when she was trying to make up to Leanne, but not understanding why Leanne was upset. 'Hopefully we can just put any misunderstandings behind us,' says Liz. Liz will find out though – she surely will.

Approaching Leanne in the street, Dastardly Dan shows his true colours. ‘I need to know that I can trust you,’ he tells her. Leanne reminds him that she had bruises from him as he tries to convince her that he has now changed. ‘You can’t tell her!’ he yells at Leanne. 'I'm not going to let some bitter little whore ruin what I have with Liz.' He grabs hold of her, and Leanne tells him to get off her. He then tells her that if she tells Liz about him, she'll regret it. 

Well, it might not be Leanne who tells Liz, it could well be Sarah, who was watching closely. Tell Liz, Sarah, exactly what you saw! The sooner the better!

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Monday 27 July 2015

Should Corrie bring back Bev Unwin?

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

One of the highlights in Corrie over the past week has been the return of that brilliant actress Susie Blake in the role of Bev Unwin. It has been nearly ten years since we last saw Bev on the cobbles but she has fitted back in immediately and was a great addition to all the episodes surrounding Deirdre's death.

I have long been a fan of Susie Blake. She was terrific in all her work with Victoria Wood and proves herself to be equally adept at comedy and drama, making her perfect for Weatherfield. It's such a shame Bev has gone again after making a return for only seven episodes. Anne Kirkbride has left such a big hole and while Deirdre is irreplaceable, I think there is always room for more mature female characters in Coronation Street. At the moment they are in short supply.

Yes we have Gail and Liz and Sally all still appearing regularly. Audrey is still there too but she is increasingly on the periphery of all the Platt antics and lacks a friend and confidante. Yasmeen is another mature lady with promise but the writers seem at a loss as to what to do with her. Roy's new friend Cathy is too new to know if she will become a classic character. We have Rita and Emily but they seem to be becoming even more background characters as 2015 progresses. I know Erica is sticking around for a while longer but I still haven't taken to the character. 

I really like the idea of Eileen becoming closer to Liz however I think there needs to be a third cog in the wheel. Bev Unwin would be perfect. I loved how Bev's past grievance with Audrey was addressed last night, it showed there is still mileage in the character and it felt satisfying to see a long standing storyline resolved. i think Bev would be a much better friend for the likes of Liz and Eileen than Erica. It would also be great to see her behind the bar with Liz - much better than the dreadful Sarah Louise. 

So would you like to see Susie Blake back in Coronation Street on a more permanent basis? 

Follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82 

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Corrie Canada weekly awards for July 20 - 24

Deirdre's legacy: Loved that Ken used one of her homemade mugs for his cuppa.

Sucker award: Callum believed all of Kylie's little scenario.

Musical ambiance: Superstition playing on the jukebox when David and Jason were talking about Callum.

Compensation award: Carla admitted her gambling is an attempt at making herself feel better.

Exclusivity award: Someone should tell Liz she's allowed to have had more than one best friend at a time. Eileen's going to feel perennially the second best in both meanings of the phrase!

Reincarnation award: Yep, I do think Amy is her great-grandmother's daughter.

Meow award: Bev was pretty catty about Audrey possibly hitting on Ken eventually, but there's history between Bev and Audrey over Fred, remember.

Blast from the past award: Emily wins. In the course of talking about Ken's women, from exotic dancers (Rita) to librarians, she certainly had Rita shuffling uncomfortably in her seat. Lots of history brought up and a near miss between Bev and Audrey. Lovely.

Sozzled award: You don't see Emily tiddly too often.

Lines of the week:
Bev "That's the down side to being lovely. People queue up to say so" (Oh, isn't that nicely put?)
Tracy "Whatever I did, I knew I could turn to her" (but you never stopped doing things)
Deirdre's letter "So when I head off to the big Pottery Class In The Sky, I want you all to push the boat out" (pottery right to the end! Brilliant!)
Amy on accessorizing "I don't want to go the full Lady Gaga, just some nice glitz"
Ken to Tracy "If selfishness was an Olympic sport, you’d be stood on a podium every four years waving your gold medal at the crowd."
Audrey "If Deirdre was going to haunt Ken I think she'd think of something a little more menacing than a stuffed marrow" (Oh, I don't know. It generally had that effect, didn't it?)
Norris "I know the music I want playing at my funeral" Eileen "Awww what is it? Send in the Clowns?"
Norris about Deirdre and Ken "They were on and off more times than the light in Beth Tinker's fridge"
Rita "It was touch and go with Mike Baldwin for a time. I'm not sure he ever really got over her" (I've been saying that for years)
Liz "To our friend. Deirdre!"

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Sunday 26 July 2015

Sunday Comments July 26

The people paying respects to Deirdre seem to be a steady stream, as you would expect. Tracy's really throwing herself into funeral arrangements, selflessly for a change. But Ken has questions that only Bev can answer, mainly, why did Deirdre stay away so long? Bev finally admitted it was Tracy's recent behaviour, what she and Tony did to Liz. Now Ken is angry. So very angry. Tracy's loving attitude towards her dead mother is only making him boil more and more.

Tracy found a letter that Deirdre wrote about what she wanted at her funeral and that ended all discussion. I absolutely love that that they had Deirdre's letter to mention pottery.

Interesting how Tracy was uncomfortable with Yasmeen's grief. Wouldn't it be nice if she actually did the right thing and confessed it was her that left the candle burning? probably won't happen. I did enjoy Tracy teasing Ken about finding letters to Deirdre from Mike Baldwin!

We come to the day of the funeral.

Awww, Deirdre's wonky homemade mugs were in the cupboard and Ken used one of those for his morning tea. Lovely. And wasn't Amy sweet? She's right, she doesn't get that from her mother. But she was funny and Eileen reckoned she takes after Blanche. I think they really are making Amy into a bit of a mini-Blanche and it's wonderful! I choked up again when Eileen and Liz were talking about Deirdre, laughing and missing her. True friends. I remember one drinking session when they made fun of Deirdre's belts!

The neighbours were all very kind to Ken, especially Dev who knows what Ken is going through. Bev was catty towards Audrey, implying she'd be after Ken, wasn't she? Lot of history there, though. Ken was angry that Peter wasn't there. they knew he was traveling by train, wouldn't they assume it could be delays? Carla didn't make it to the funeral, either.

Liz stepped in as pallbearer in Peter's absence. Very touching. I had a lump in my throat pretty much the whole funeral. I can't imagine trying to sing at a funeral of someone I was so close to. Blanche's One O'Clock club even came to pay their respects and weren't they happy to see Kevin!

Tracy is really mystified at Ken's coldness towards her and so were his friends. He erupted at the funeral and since Tracy didn't know the real reason why, it really cut her to the core. The man that she recognized on the street came out to see her in the church yard. It's her ex husband, Robert. Good moment, introducing one ex to the other. Steve got her back inside in time for Ken's eulogy. I'm off in floods of tears again. Watching the actors in the church, knowing they're all thinking of Anne Kirkbride. So was I. Lovely touch with the applause. I think it was an ovation for Annie as well as Deirdre.

The wake was quiet, as they often are. Gail was more fussed about Michael and obsessed about him the whole time. He didn't really have much time for her so Gail finally gave up. No wonder Audrey wanted to escape. Simon was rude. Eileen discovered she was now Liz's best friend. Hey, you know you can have more than one best friend, right? The One O'Clock club made quick work of the buffet but were shamed into sharing with Amy after she came over all Blanche on them. Liz was kind enough about Tracy even in the circumstances. It was enough to make Ken think. But it didn't last.

When last we saw Tracy's ex husband, Robert, he was living in London. Looks like he must have moved back to Manchester or came back for the funeral. He came back to support her and he cooked for her. She can't understand why he's being so nice to her after what she did to him, cheating and lying and he's now telling her he never got over her. What does Tracy do, hours after burying her mother? Move in for a snog. She did the same thing when Rob was sentenced, Tony was the one at hand that night. Robert tried to resist and then Ken came in and was horrified.

Ken finally laid it into Tracy and Tracy figured if she was going to wear some of the blame, so would Ken and so would Peter when he finally arrived, victim of a massive train fail. There were a lot of home truths and Tracy started them off. She dragged his dirty deeds up and Peter implied a few of Deirdre's. Ken finally retreated after Mike Baldwin was brought up though listened a bit at the top of the stairs but Peter continued to have a go. Tracy isn't backing down, though. She's determined to share the blame, they all gave Deirdre grief and so they did.

Peter threw a few home truths. Tracy needs to sort herself out for Amy's sake. He would know. He's made a lot of mistakes with Simon, too. I think he struck a nerve. Even Ken has backed down a bit. Maybe getting it out, got rid of it. Tracy promises to change. Nobody believes it. They settled down to telling stories about Deirdre, with her photo looking on behind.

At the end of the day, it was just Ken, and Deirdre's photo. Good night.

Meanwhile, in the pub, friends talked and told stories about Ken and Deirdre both, with Emily alluding to the fact that Rita was an exotic dancer and one of Ken's conquests, though only the two of them knew what she was talking about. Lovely little touch, that! Lots of history about both characters and a few more besides. The old rivalry between Bev and Audrey is still there with another clear the air in the ladies' between them. She assured Bev that Fred loved her and died loving her. They patched things up for Deirdre's sake.

Dan is still lurking around and Liz has noticed tension between he and Leanne. He lies his way out of it. The best of Deirdre's friends were the last to leave, with a final toast of a bold Shiraz. You don't often see Emily sozzled and she was wonderful! Liz spoke a lovely tribute to Deirdre, and, I think, Anne K. as well.

David really doesn't want Kylie to be the bait to set up Callum but she's not afraid of him and she is the only one that really knows him well enough to do it. Staging a fight in front of Callum. It's so obvious. Even Jason knows Callum's just using Sarah and Callum knows Jason knows. Part two is Kylie pretending to leave David, but Sarah is unavailable so it delayed David's arrival to rescue Kylie. Will Kylie be able to hold Callum off until they get to the pub? Can't blame her not wanting to have a go in a grubby back room when he's got a really nice flat waiting.

But her delay got Callum angry. It got dangerous and Callum took it out on Kylie but luckily the cavalry arrived in time. The only problem is, the plan didn't work and Sarah's still under Callum's wing and influence. Callum might use that in court, too. If only there was a way of making sure there's hard evidence that he's still dealing.

It was very jarring, jumping into this storyline during Deirdre's funeral episode. Sarah certainly does have her hands full with Bethany. Callum invited Sarah to a house party and Bethany wagged off school instead and showed up at the Dog and Gun. She proceeded to drink. Callum didn't let her go to the party, she'd done enough of that already. Bethany is trying to blackmail Callum to paying for her school trip, next.

Carla appears to be into a web of gambling, clearly as a result of trying to soothe her guilt. Online gambling makes it so easy, too. Another in person poker game and this time, the only proper competition is Erica. Lloyd and Nick were a bit weak. Carla did pretty well but Erica did better. Erica sure carries a lot of cash around, though. Roy was not very happy to find them gambling in his cafe. Carla's back at the casino and they know her well there. That's not good. She must have lost, as we heard her transfer a lot of money to her bank account. That's not good, either. She also couldn't face the funeral. Wonder where she went? Three guesses and the first two probably don't count.

Cathy is making small steps and has uncovered the chairs. But she hasn't actually thrown anything out, she's just shifted it. At least she's forcing Roy to take his driving test again. They went to the Bistro for a drink and she had a coupon for a free drink. Expired in March 2012. It was called Nick's at that time but it doesn't seem like Cathy was familiar with it before now. How did she get the voucher?

Liz has met Dan's daughter, Lucy. Liz is noticing Leanne's coldness towards Dan, though. She looks to be a teenager, going by her wanting his permission to go on holiday. Liz confronted Eileen, is she starting to have feelings about Michael? Who couldn't see that coming? Sarah's got to be one of the worst barmaids The Rovers has ever had. She spends more time cuddling up to Callum when he's around or running off on a crisis than actually working. She'd be cruising pretty close to being sacked if Liz wasn't so distracted by Deirdre's death.

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Deirdre's tribute - Corrie at its best

(This post was originally posted by Llifon on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2015.)
I haven't been inspired to write a blog post about Corrie for some time, and certainly not one praising an episode. But last night's (Friday in Canada) episode was the best episode I've seen in a very long time.

While the episodes surrounding Deirdre's death and funeral didn't solely concentrate on Deirdre, last night's episode was all about her. This was the sort of episode that I'd been waiting for since the death of Anne Kirkbride. And having resisted the urge to read spoilers, this was a nice surprise. The episode had that unique mix of drama and humour that Corrie is famous for and what it's been lacking in recent months and may I say years.

I know we are soaps are now obsessed with awards, but if last night's episode won't get nominated for 'Best Episode' then soaps are really in a dire situation. Explosions and fights don't necessarily make good episodes. More often than not, it's the aftermath that shows the characters at their best.

While my mum had refused to watch the funeral, stating that she didn't agree with the fact that the show was using Kirkbride's death as dramatic purposes, I put last night's episode on and she watched the whole episode. I sensed that this episode was what she wanted - a chance to reflect and reminisce about a long running and popular character. 

Deirdre was one of a dying breed of Corrie characters. You can count on one hand - two at a push - the characters who we still care about and we know their history. Deirdre had many phases in her Corrie life - the cheeky mouthy girl in the 1970s, the serious and strong woman of the 1980s, the independent lady in the 1990s, the foil to Blanche in the 2000s and then the comedy character in the last 5 years or so.

For nearly 30 years, Deirdre was a serious character. She wasn't known for being a comedy character like Hilda, Mavis or Reg, but it seems many remember her as she was in the last 5 years, completely forgetting the past. Her two most famous storylines are dramatic ones with Deirdre crying in most of them. This was the Deirdre many relate to when thinking of her. But the fact that she wasn't a particularly funny character didn't make her unpopular. On the contrary, she is one of the most famous characters on the show, on the same par as possibly Ken, Rita, Bet Lynch, Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden. 

What was wonderful about last night's episode was it was very honest. It showed that Deirdre, as Blanche once said, 'was hardly Snow White'. She, like every classic Corrie character and every human being, had her flaws. While she was never a homewrecker (Wendy flamin' Crozier has that trophy), she didn't have a great track record with men. Mention was duly referenced to Mike Baldwin (who held a torch for Deirdre) and Jon Lindsay, but sadly no reference was made by Rita or Emily about Ray Langton and Billy Walker. And wouldn't it have been great if Billy Walker had returned to pay his respects - Deirdre's first love?

The return of Peter Barlow was very much welcomed and the scenes in the Barlows were electric. And while her love of pottery was mentioned, I did think her choice of huge glasses might have referenced to. And where was Eccles? But I'm picking at straws.

And it was great to have those scenes between Audrey and Bev. History had not been forgotten and it did cement that Bev would be a very welcome return to the street. She still has relevance and she would be a great friend/foe to Audrey.

And like Jordan mentioned in his review, the episode gave Emily and Rita more scope. Rita's reaction when Emily mentioned Ken's old flames was priceless - she's one of them!

What would've been a wonderful ending would be for Deirdre's voice to be heard one last time when Ken switched off the light.

So well done Corrie for last night. You were back on form and it just goes to show that when it pulls out all the stops, it's a clinker of a show!

Goodbye Deirdre. A Corrie legend in the truer sense of the word.

by Llifon

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Death comes to Weatherfield

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

We've known this particular storyline was coming for half a year and yet when it finally does present itself on Wednesday 8 July, saying goodbye to Deirdre Hunt Langton Barlow Rachid Barlow will still be difficult.

For many of us, Deirdre will have been a presence for our entire Corrie-viewing lives and so, wrapped up in our lives, so was hers.

In Corrie terms, Deirdre's passing will be up there with the big ones - Stan, Len, Betty, the Duckworths. We remember some of the deaths more vividly because they occurred in an era when final farewells were used much more sparingly. It's a difficult line to tread for the powers that be. Deirdre's demise comes due to the still hard to believe death of Anne Kirkbride. Thus the production team have to give the fictional character a decent send off while taking into consideration the feelings of the actor's family and friends. This is something that Corrie seems to have done particularly well over the years, affording the characters a quiet, non-violent death away from the Street. The passing of Jack Walker in 1970, following the death of actor Arthur Leslie, was the first of many.

Thankfully though, the death of an actor while still on the programme is mercifully rare. Instead we see characters being dispatched at the end of their useful Street life with grim frequency. It's hard to feel too emotional about the recent demise of Kal or Maddie. The farewells for Sunita Alahan and Tina McIntyre were not particularly fond. In both cases, this was the end of the line for residents who had once been liked but whose personalities had been trashed towards the end of their tenure. They had to go and to be honest, were we all that bothered?

How different it was back in the day. Soap deaths were rare in the seventies and my own first experience of this came courtesy of Ernie Bishop back in 1978. I was at junior school and can still recall the total shock that was felt the day after Ernie had been gunned down. For many of us, it was our first dealings with death at any level. Here was a genial TV character who had been on screen for my entire life. Now he'd gone. Someone who I had never met and indeed, who did not really exist but all the same, this was a sharp reminder that life isn't always nice.

Other than Hilda's reaction to Stan's death (still heartbreaking over thirty years later), one of the most powerful depictions of bereavement came in 1983. The build-up to the end of Len Fairclough had taken several months, all off-screen following the firing of actor Peter Adamson. When the time came, we had Rita, in a cabaret gown, singing at Stan & Hilda's Ruby Wedding party. The came the arrival of the police, the ushering away of a bemused Rita into the Rovers back room and a flustered Betty delivering the grim news that Len was dead. However, it was the next episode that provided the true gut-wrenching moments thanks to the performance of a lifetime from Barbara Knox. There was Rita, still in the cabaret gown, face streaked with make-up, her hair a mess. Awash with tea and sympathy, Rita tried to make sense of the horrible reality. She also had to deal with her friends and neighbours, including a particularly selfish outburst from Elsie Tanner. The whole episode was raw and realistic.

Death in a soap should always act as a catalyst, making those left behind question their own lives and values. In Rita's case, Len's death made her stronger and perhaps a little more harsh. For Jack Duckworth, it was the realisation that for all of their squabbling, he and Vera had been a devoted couple. For Betty's nearest and dearest, it was the knowledge that she had secretly been the owner of the Rovers for decades and that she was a kleptomaniac who hoarded pint pots in her back yard. Maybe some storylines are best forgotten.

For the Barlows, it would appear that the next few weeks will be a time for airing some harsh home truths. Maybe Deirdre's legacy will be a new, improved Tracy. We can but hope. In the meantime we prepare to bid farewell to a fictional character but one who has accompanied many of us from childhood years to middle age. Let's not diminish the importance of Deirdre Barlow, a woman whose throaty chuckle and big pair of specs kept us enthralled for many, many years.

See also the following as we get ready to say goodbye to Deirdre Barlow:

Interview with Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow) on saying goodbye to her on-screen mum

Interview with William Roache (Ken Barlow) on saying goodbye to his on-screen wife

Interview with Corrie scriptwriter Damon Rochefort on writing out a legend from the show

Deirdre to die on her 60th birthday, July 8 2015.

Peter Barlow and Bev Unwin are returning.

Coronation Street build their own graveyard to film Deirdre's funeral

Tracy's ex-husband Robert Preston returns.

The funeral has been written by scriptwriter Damon Rochefort
Deirdre's death has been explained here.

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Saturday 25 July 2015

The Play's the Thing

(This post was originally posted by Emma Hynes on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2015.)

As episodes of Coronation Street go, it’s no exaggeration to say that last night’s was one of the best I’ve seen. Slow in pace, dialogue heavy, location and character light and theme focussed with a brilliant script by the ever reliable Chris Fewtrell and tremendous performances by all concerned, it genuinely had me feeling euphoric afterwards and reaching for the remote to watch it again the minute it was over.

While Kate Ford, Chris Gascoyne and William Roache are consistently outstanding in my eyes, a contributory factor to the quality of their performances last night was surely the amount of time they had to play out and immerse themselves in the scenes in question. And while Ken, Peter and Tracy thrashed it out in number one, a small selection of aptly chosen neighbours sat around the Rovers for hours simply talking, and it was wonderful.

Corrie’s capacity for comedy and drama is always touted as one of its strongest features, and rightly so. But as I’ve argued before, this can’t simply mean a few funny one liners are thrown about while drama takes centre stage. Last night’s episode showed how it should be done. The drama in the Barlow’s was second to none, and the humour in the Rovers was sublimely organic as they chatted fondly, tactfully enlightened Michael as to Ken and Deirdre’s various indiscretions over the years, and tipsy Emily insisted on drinking the red wine which Liz had poured to toast their friend. Intercutting between these two scenes, from light to shade and back again, made for perfection.

Twitter user Gillian Skerritt made a comment a month back that has been playing on my mind ever since. While she was referring to Luke’s ‘designer’ Mule Face t-shirt, her remark that “I fear I’m not Corrie target audience any more” had me thinking about this notion generally. I worried that the intention might be to take Corrie in a new direction. However, last night’s episode proved to me that there is still a desire to retain, celebrate, and devote time to the characteristics that made this programme an institution in the first place, and lord knows the capacity for it never went away.

Episodes like last night’s are the reason why people have been watching almost 55 years later and don’t want to switch off. To my mind, it was the most fitting tribute possible to the memory of Anne Kirkbride and Deirdre Barlow.

While you can never make every viewer happy, the outpouring of praise for this particular episode makes clear that it can act as a blueprint for what we would all wish to see more of.

There are plenty of programmes on television that bring us the theatrical, but only Coronation Street can bring us theatre.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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Interview: Chris Gascoyne on Peter Barlow's return

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

Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter Barlow in Coronation Street, has returned to the show to film Deirdre's funeral.  In this interview he talks about his return as Peter to say goodbye to his on-screen step mum.

What made you return to the show?
Well Annie passed away, I wasn’t here at the time, obviously I was very close to Annie and I thought that for Annie and the show Peter would come back so that was the reason really. I was happy to come back, there was nothing to think about at all. It’s been amazing to see everybody, it’s made me realise how much I have missed people and it’s been a fantastic few days. Obviously Annie has gone, I was able to go to her funeral, and for a while here will be a poorer place without her but I feel I can put that to rest now and accept it. We’ve talked a lot about Annie - myself, Bill and Kate. We were in the Barlows for a long time yesterday filming 26 pages of dialogue but we just talked a lot about Annie. It was important for me, in a good way, to be able to understand and say goodbye.

Has it felt strange filming in the Barlows without Anne?
It was so strange because I was thinking about 15 years ago when I started in the show and how lovely Annie was to me, her and Bill and Maggie. It seems no time at all but then things have changed so much, it felt strange to be doing a scene about Deirdre’s funeral, it still feels strange to comprehend.

Was it difficult to plays the scenes surrounding Deirdre’s funeral or could you separate that?
There were times when I was switched on for Deirdre and there were times when I was switched on for Annie, and they didn’t seem to have separate places when I was in the Barlows, because I knew both Deirdre and Annie on that set. When you hear action it’s Deirdre and when they said cut it was Annie, so it was a strange few days, that I had hoped wouldn’t be here for many years.

Peter returns for Deirdre’s funeral, what sort of Peter do we see back in Weatherfield?
Well he seems pretty together, he’s not drinking and he’s been doing his best, he’s still in touch with Simon and Leanne. He comes back with all the best intentions but the trains are delayed, he misses the funeral which he’s upset and embarrassed about, then he has an argument with Tracy because she’s having a go at Ken and he doesn’t like that, then Ken’s defending Peter and Tracy’s jealous so straight away you walk back into some very familiar Barlow behaviour. It all centres round Deirdre which is the most important thing. It’s classic Barlows and it was really nice to do, they talk about all the good times and the bad times they’ve had round that table with Deirdre and Blanche, all the things that have happened, and it was really great to film. It was wonderful to see Bill and Kate and not just the actors, everybody here who’s been so kind and lovely to me, just to see everybody has been quite moving really.

What has Peter been up to while he’s been away?
Well he’s got a job with a chartered boat company and he’s about to go out for a stint in Antigua, so he has that bombshell to drop before he leaves.

How does that bombshell impact on Simon, who the viewer has seen growing increasingly temperamental recently?
Simon’s pleased to see his dad but he wants to come with him, we’ve had this quite a few times before and obviously he can’t because Peter feels that Simon staying with Leanne and him not being there is more beneficial to his upbringing. Peter doesn’t know anything about his behaviour to Leanne, there are little bits when he sees Simon being rude to Leanne, he’s been rude to her before but maybe these incidents are a little bit ruder in a more aggressive and grown up way.

How does Peter feel when Simon makes it clear that he wants to come with him, does it tug at his strings?
Oh yes it tugs at his heartstrings but he can’t come, Peter’s got a different life now and Simon needs to go to school, he can’t go to sea he needs to stay with Leanne. He’s better off with Leanne and that’s why Peter let him go, because he’s better off with Leanne, whether I or the the audience think that’s true or not I’m not sure but Peter does.

Does Peter run into Carla while he’s back?
There is one scene between them, where he sees Carla on the street, but you’ll have to wait and see what happens. I think there’s still something there for Peter, I can’t really answer for Carla, but from Peter’s point of view yes absolutely, she was his life for so long and he messed it up. It’s always going to be there for him and of course if he could have it back he would in a heartbeat.

Will we see Peter return again at some point down the line?
Yeah I hope so. I’ve been playing Peter for so long he’s become part of my life and I do miss him. You also miss people, I know it’s a cliche but it is a big family here, not just the actors but all the crew as well, I’ve missed them probably more than I thought I was going to.

What have you been working on away from Coronation Street?
I’ve been touring in a theatre production of Little Voice, we’ve just finished at Birmingham Rep and now we’re off to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, so I’m travelling over now to do a month there which is great. I’m loving being back in the theatre after 11 years and I’m enjoying it, we’ll see what happens next, maybe a bit of TV.

See also:

Interview with Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow) on saying goodbye to her on-screen mum

Interview with William Roache (Ken Barlow) on saying goodbye to his on-screen wife

Interview with Corrie scriptwriter Damon Rochefort on writing out a legend from the show

Deirdre to die on her 60th birthday, July 8 2015.

Peter Barlow and Bev Unwin are returning.

Coronation Street build their own graveyard to film Deirdre's funeral

Tracy's ex-husband Robert Preston returns.

The funeral has been written by scriptwriter Damon Rochefort

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