Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Good, the Bad, the Flamin' Useless

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

The Good, the Bad, the Flamin' Useless
Let's take a trip down memory lane. The curlers are in, the HP sauce, thickly buttered bread and a steaming mug of tea form the centre piece of a lovingly furnished dining table. Stan Ogden sits in wait until the fry-up eventually arrives accompanied by the chirping sounds of wife Hilda, mid-anecdote. She flutters about putting the world to rights whilst he pretends to listen, nodding every now and then to show he's paying attention. In what could be described as a typical working class marriage of that era, the Corrie husband served a purpose however useless he was and Stan was the epitome of that. 

"Pull my finger"
Following in Stan's footsteps, Jack Duckworth also personified the bone idol, but loveable Corrie male. The fondness for a pint or three at the Rovers, an eye for the ladies and an apparent allergy to a hard day's work meant that wife Vera was the ultimate long-suffering spouse, a situation which often led to a vicious cycle of misbehaviour, a rollocking from the missus, followed by a few pints to alleviate the stress caused by the rollocking from the missus, followed again by another rollocking from the missus for coming home blind drunk. It was glorious to watch and one wouldn't be the same without the other.

Also from the school of bone idol - Les Battersby. Although perhaps jail of bone idol is more accurate. The Battersbys were cartoon-like in how stereotypically common they were. With the family causing trouble right from the start, hapless Les was often at the centre of their problems. When put with Cilla that familiar Corrie theme of male failure, female disappointment and all the corresponding sound effects (screaming, shouting, insults etc) fall into place.

"I asked for two halves but they only had one glass"
Coronation Street is and probably always will be dominated by the female of the species, but without the lazy, good-for-nothing, bone idol slobs who test their wives to the limit, the Street would not be the same. A more modern example of the flamin' usless is Kirk. Debateably a few cobbles short of a full street, Kirk is a more modern take on the sloth-like Corrie male. Not so much letting the women do all the cooking, cleaning and going out to work, but not entirely reliable in an emergency. He respects his better half though and 
isn't afraid to show that respect, something the more old fashioned Corrie men weren't so comfortable with.  

In what seems to be a bit of a transitional period for Coronation Street, the type of man described above, that has always been a staple of the show and that have helped make the strong women so prominent, seems to be dying out. New castings have meant that the Street is fully stocked up with new families such as the Connors and lots of new and younger male faces to see Corrie into the future, but will it be the same without the Jack Duckworths, the Stan Ogdens and even the Kirk Sutherland's of this world? If a couple of the most recent long term arrivals are anything to go by, probably not.

Take Andy. Entering on a great storyline of deceit, blackmail and heartbreak - literally in Michael's case - the character had promise. They dragged the initial storyline out a little bit too long but that gave us more time to get used to Andy (or Gavin as he temporarily was), but now he just seems to hover around the periphery of the show, contributing very little. He does indeed seem useless, but not in the comedic, scripted way we like, he's just a bit wet. 

Another floater is Robert. The scenes this week with Simon in the Barlow's yard were touching, and gave us a little insight into Robert's own past, but again he seems weak and a little bit pointless. Perhaps when turbulent Tracy finally sends him over the edge we might see a bit of oomph from the sexy chef.

"It's like talking to a brick wall"
All is not lost however. Tyrone and Fiz have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Jack and Vera. Still quite young, they are already veterans of Coronation Street and the writers have the potential to make them true soap legends. Just imagine Tyrone is his 50s, complete with string vest and pigeons . And THANK GOD for Tim. And Sally for that matter. Their pairing is genius and the new comedy element to Sally's character is just perfect. Tim has quickly become a Corrie favourite and certainly shows elements of that classic, henpecked Corrie bloke. 

We've been a bit obsessed with men on the Coronation Street blog recently. Llifon has been counting down his all time favourite Corrie men, and over the summer Emma gave us some of her thoughts about Corrie's Mithered Men. I also wrote about What Makes a Corrie Man last year. Enjoy.


Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.

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