Next week marks a very special milestone for both Sally Metcalfe and the actress who plays her. On Monday 27th January 1986 Sally Dynevor debuted in Coronation Street as the gobby Sally Seddon. Yes, it's nearly thirty years since Kevin Webster splashed that little madam in his van. The rest as they say is history.
These days it's a rare thing for an actor to play the same part for three decades. During her tenure Sally must have experienced huge changes in the way Corrie is produced. Don't forget that back in January 1986, Corrie only went out twice a week, Hilda Ogden was still resident at number 13 and the street was still recovering from the loss of such legends as Annie Walker, Albert Tatlock and Elsie Tanner. Sally's arrival bolstered the next generation of young Corrie stars as she worked regularly with the likes of Michael Le Vell (Kevin), Kevin Kennedy (Curly), Sean Wilson (Martin) and Sally Ann Matthews (soon to return again as Jenny Bradley).
I tend to think Corrie is best when it focuses on long running characters that the viewers have invested time in getting to know, experiencing their ups and downs over the years. Sally is right up there for me and both the character and the actress are major reasons that keep me watching. As with the recently departed Emily Bishop, Sally has matured appropriately over the years and she is extremely believable now in middle age. You can see the natural progression in her character and her reactions to all that she has experienced. And to date that's been quite a life.
When Sally Seddon first arrived Hilda warned Kevin against her. The Seddon family were from the wrong side of the tracks and it took Mrs Ogden quite a time to warm to our Sally. She really didn't like the cut of her jib. She eventually did take to her and they became close. When Hilda left Weatherfield in 1987 she even sold her house to the newly married young couple. The next few years were relatively quiet for the Websters as they struggled with money worries and started a family. Sally showed early signs of the rather demanding, upwardly mobile character she would later become, pushing Kevin to own his own business and move them away from the back streets. It would also be fair to say that for much of the early 1990s Sally was mainly known for dishing up fish fingers and beans for Rawsie and Sawphie.
All that was to change however, with the arrival of the man mad Natalie Horrocks in 1996. By 1997, with Sally away nursing her sick mother, Natalie had got her claws into Kevin. The storyline went on for months and culminated with Sally taking revenge. When she slapped Natalie in front of the corner shop everyone cheered. It was such a satisfying moment and really was the making of Sally. The character was soon rejuvenated and transformed. What followed was a long line of dangerously inadvisable dalliances with deeply unsuitable men. Over the years Sally has been involved with the dreary Danny Hargreaves, one of Gail's cast offs Martin Platt, the psychotic son of Les Battersby Greg Kelly who she eventually thumped with a chair leg, the sleazy factory boss Frank Foster who who raped Carla Connor and the hideously oily Ian Davenport with whom she had an affair whilst working in his car showroom.
I loved Sally's time as a pushy parent, spending her time forcing daughter Rosie into a life as a private school girl at Oakhill. She was completely out of control, ignoring her other daughter Sophie and basically wanting everything for Rosie that she never had herself. As with all the best Corrie characters, Sally is no better than she ought to be and her long history of misdemeanours frequently come back to haunt her whenever she gets above herself. She is still playing the snob these days, having moved to the "better" side of the street, owning a house with a conservatory and dreaming of ending up a resident of Hale Barns. Who else in Corrie could be ashamed of her neighbours finding evidence of instant mashed potato in her wheelie bin?! I also love Sally's interactions at the factory. She is insatiable in her desire to get a permanent spot in Carla's office but no matter how hard she tries she always ends up back on the factory floor with the rest of the rogue's gallery.
What makes Sally Dynevor so perfect for Corrie is her ability to be so equally adept at comedy and drama. She is highly capable of making us laugh like drains and yet she also tugs at the heartstrings. In 2010 this latter quality reached its peak when not only did Sally develop and fight breast cancer but she also learned Kevin had been having an affair with Molly Dobbs. Those scenes filmed around the 50th anniversary episodes were some of Sally's finest.
It was always going to be hard to find Sally a new, permanent love interest following the final fizzle of her relationship with Kevin. Then along came that excellent actor Joe Duttine and a wonderful new double act was formed. Sally and Tim are my favourite Corrie couple of recent times. The actors have terrific chemistry and I love their chalk and cheese characters together. Sally is very much channeling the dear departed Annie Walker while Tim is the next generation Eddie Yeats. Long may they continue to delight us with their exploits.
So as both Sally Metcalfe and Sally Dynevor approach thirty years on the cobbles, what does the future have in store? I am thrilled with the most recent plot development which will see Sally launch her campaign to become a local councillor. As recalled in last night's episode, this story continues a long line of Corrie councillors, from Alf Roberts and his wife Audrey through to Deirdre Barlow and Curly Watts. I am sure this new storyline will bring out the very best in Sally and despite her dreadfully snobbish, tactless ways, the viewers will be rooting for her as they always do.
Happy Anniversary Sally and here's to many more years of Corrie magic.
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Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.
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