Monday 31 July 2017

Shayne Ward on being a new dad - and life at Corrie

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Coronation Street actor and new dad Shayne Ward has been talking about fatherhood and life in Coronation Street.

In an interview with Soaplife magazine, Shayne says that becoming a dad has not only totally changed his life, but it’s also made him a better actor.

“I’m able to access my emotions better now I’m a dad. When, for example, I’m really knackered after looking after the baby and I then have to come into Corrie to do a sad or intense scene, I feel I do it better because my emotions are nearer the surface. It helps that I’m in that place of tiredness anyway. Also, if I’ve had a really fun morning with Willow and then I’m doing a comedy scene, I’m really in the mood for it.”

It sounds like you’re loving being a dad!
“Oh, it’s my sole purpose. Everything else is almost a hobby! I started out as a singer and people could say I was born to sing. But I think I was born to be a dad. Willow May is a beautiful girl. She’s smiley, happy and a breeze to look after. She’s just trying to crawl.”

What’s the best thing about being a first-time dad?
“How natural it is. I remember when me and Sophie were first taking the baby home from hospital and we were like, ‘How do we keep her alive?’ A lot of new, first-time parents are like that. But everything came so naturally, even though we thought things would be difficult.”

Have your family helped out?
“It’s incredible how instantly everyone rallies around. You do literally have 16 wardrobes full of baby clothes! My mum and Sophie’s mum already had massive boxes full of nappies, wipes and Sudocrem. So it’s like, ‘Oh we don’t need to get anything!’ It’s also just incredible how you feel this instant bond. I now can’t imagine my life without my little girl.”

Would you like more kids?
“I always joke and say I’d like seven because I’m one of seven. Sophie and I will be blessed if we have another two or three. That would be great. We’ll see, but obviously it depends on Sophie. She’s an actress and I back her career 100 per cent. Having more kids is further down the line.”

And how’s life in Corrie?
“It’s brilliant. The time has gone so quick – it’s nearly two years now and that’s crazy!”

Do you see yourself mainly as an actor or a singer now?
“The last gig I did was at the start of April, and I miss singing. Whenever I see shows or go to a gig, it just makes me want to get up there and do something myself – or at least release some songs. Not necessarily an album, but an EP or whatever. I’ve still got a very good, strong fan-base on the music side. I’m never going to shut the door on it, but…”

But what?
“I’m really enjoying the acting side as well. I’m no longer Shayne Ward from X Factor to a lot of people. There’s a whole generation who now watch Corrie who didn’t know who I was in 2005. To them, I’m Aidan Connor from Coronation Street.”

Do you think it’s extra hard for singers going into soaps?
“We are instantly pigeon-holed. But you’ve got Lee Ryan absolutely smashing it in EastEnders. Then there’s Duncan James in Hollyoaks – and look how amazing Kym Marsh is. Hopefully I can keep proving people wrong with my acting.”

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Bev Callard on Liz losing the Rovers Return

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

This week we saw Liz McDonald sign over the Rovers Return to recovering alcoholic Peter Barlow and his girlfriend Toyah Battersby.

And in this week's Inside Soap magazine, Beverley Callard, who plays Liz in Corrie, says that she's looking forward to Liz's future away from the pub.

Beverley told Inside Soap: "Instead of turning left in the studio, now I just turn right. It's great for me as an actress, as Steve and Liz end up living together in the flat above Streetcars.

"We're getting some proper McDonald scenes and they're so funny! I can't tell you much, apart from Steve is with a woman and Liz doesn't see any chemistry. She tells him: 'Steve, she's a nice girl, but if she doesn't put a snap in your celery, she isn't worth having'.

"And then Liz goes: 'I've seen more romantic kisses at Liza Minnelli's last wedding!' They do write some classics for Liz!"

But... Peter taking over the Rovers Return? I can only imagine what Blanche would have had to say to that!

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Corrie Canada weekly awards for July 24 - 28

Fashionista Award: Craig really rocks his uniform and epaulettes. I'm giving Gemma runner up for that Kylie tshirt. Her heart was in the right place!

Intimidation award: Neil. It will be SO good to see him behind bars.

Best Friend award: Norris might be a lot of things but he's also a very good friend to those he cares about. He just doesn't care about most!

Musical ambiance: Mr. Blue Sky in the pub while Johnny and Jenny are celebrating being back together.

High Noon award: Anna dressed up as the Scarlet Woman, literally (red dress and lippy) and when she heard that Erica wasn't sorry in the least for persuing Kevin, put her on a warning.

Contrivation Street: Sarah wants to find some of Nathan's other victims. Oh look, Rana's working in a homeless shelter. Then Shona shows up and she's been helping, too, and has found Lara, that very young one Bethany met at a party.

TMI award: Poor Craig got a lot more information then he thought he'd get. But he did the right thing. He listened. He didn't judge.

Lines of the week:
Sean about Eva's new car "Barbie's been on the phone, she wants her car back"
Rosie "I don't know why they make jigsaws so complicated!"

Jenny to Johnny "You thought you were invincible and it turns out you're human just like the rest of us"
Liz to Erica "You can't give up on who you are for a relationship you're not even sure of"
Norris "Now there you've got the wrong end of the stick" Mary "Norris, I fear neither end of the stick would provide me with the truth"
Peter "I like a woman in glasses" Liz "You like a woman in anything" Peter "Fair point"
Moira "One word, Elizabeth. Floodgates"
Anna to Erica "Look at you with your fake tan and your bleached hair"

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Sunday 30 July 2017

5 of the Best from Corrie's History This Week

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Corriepedia is a wonderful site. If you haven't visited it, please do.

Every day on Twitter the guys who run Corriepedia look back at a handful of storylines which took place on this day in a different year of Coronation Street's history.

And so each Sunday from today onwards, I'm going to be taking a look at my personal favourite five storylines from those which Corriepedia have alerted us to during the week.

I hope you enjoy these short and sweet looks down memory lane.

24th July in 1998

Audrey Roberts beats Spider Nugent in a council election by seven votes.

25 July in 1973

Elsie Howard is knocked down by a taxi in London, visiting Dennis in prison.

26 July in 1989

Vera throws a drink over Alec, meant for errant husband Jack, and is barred from the Rovers.

27 July in 1981

Ken Barlow marries Deirdre Langton in one of the programme's most famous weddings ever 

28th July in 1980

Renee is involved in a fatal head-on collision when she and Alf go for a country drink

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Coronation Street's most prolific writer, Peter Whalley, has died

ITV Coronation Street has confirmed today that scriptwriter Peter Whalley has passed away.

Peter Whalley was at the heart of the Coronation Street writing team for 35 years and wrote 600 episodes, more than any other writer in the programme's history.

Peter was given a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2009 British Soap Awards before retiring in 2013.

Coronation Street Executive Producer Kieran Roberts today paid tribute to Peter. He said: "Peter was not just a prolific and brilliant writer, he was also an invaluable source of great ideas and equally great wisdom in our story conferences. Everyone who knew Peter will also remember the lovely man behind the great writing talent."

Peter Whalley was born in Colne, Lancashire. He started writing when teaching at a school in Pontefract, but gave this up after joining Coronation Street as a scriptwriter in 1979. He became the senior writer on the Coronation Street team.

Peter also wrote two episodes of the Corrie spin-off Coronation Street - After Hours and he wrote the live 40th anniversary episode of Corrie in 2000.

In addition to writing for our favourite telly show, Peter Whalley wrote 40 radio plays, two stage plays and ten novels. He's also written more for TV including The Good Samaritan, a one-off drama starring Shane Ritchie and penned episodes of Angels, The Jury, Albion Market, Families, Revelations and created and wrote Castles.

When Peter Whalley was given a Special Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards in 2009 he said:  Peter, who has worked on the nation's favourite show for three decades, said in an interview: "It was a complete surprise and a great honour. After 30 years it's good to receive something for the mantelpiece. It's the best job there is. I can't think of a better one."

Ex-Coronation Street archivist and scriptwriter Daran Little today said this via twitter:

Our thoughts to go Peter Whalley's family at this sad time.

For a full list of all of the episodes written by Peter Whalley, see Corriepedia.

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Corrie’s Lucy Fallon moved to tears at Bethany rape scene

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Coronation Street actress Lucy Fallon, who plays Bethany Platt, has revealed that her character Bethany’s grooming ordeal was so emotionally draining she was moved to tears while filming.

In an interview with The Sun’s Fabulous magazine, Lucy said: “There have been scenes where I have genuinely cried because they’ve been so hard to do. Obviously the rape scene with Neil was the hardest and the one with all of the men in the flat because imagining that actually happening to someone is just horrible.”

In this week's Coronation Street, we saw Bethany confide in Craig.  It can't be long now for this story to end in court, with Nathan jailed leaving Bethany to get on with her life. I wonder what Corrie has next in store for her?

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

From Coronation Street to Crime Writing Novelist

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog June 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Jacqueline Chadwick, or Jacqueline Pirie as you might recognise her from her soap days, will be best known to us Coronation Street fans as Linda Baldwin in Coronation Street.  Jacqueline appeared in Corrie as knicker stitcher Linda Sykes who went on to marry factory boss Mike Baldwin. Her stint on the Street lasted from 1998 to 2001.

Street siren Linda was involved in one of Corrie's most infamous love triangles when she was due to marry Mike Baldwin while having an affair with his son, Mark Redman. And of course, in true soap style, there was no better time for Mike to discover what was going on than on their wedding day.

Since leaving the bright lights of the TV studio and moving far away from Weatherfield, Jacqueline is now an acclaimed crime novelist.

She's written three crime novels, the first of which is out in paperback on July 14th 2017, published by Fahrenheit Press

The first book is called In The Still  and you can pre-order here, In the Still on Amazon.

About In The Still: When Ali Dalglish immigrated to Canada she left behind her career as Britain’s most in-demand forensic pathologist & criminal psychologist.  Now, eight years later, Ali feels alone, and bored, and full of resentment. Suffocated and frustrated by her circumstances and in an increasingly love-starved marriage, Ali finds herself embroiled in a murder case that forces her to call upon her dormant investigative skills.

Jacqueline's second book is called Briefly Maiden and the third Silent Sisters, both will be published later this year. Jackie is already half way through writing book number four.

From Coronation Street to Crime Writing Novelist

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

Want some Bet Lynch Bunting? Get it here!

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Want some Coronation Street themed party pieces?  Well, you could do worse than stringing up some Bet Lynch bunting.

This pack includes 2 meters of string, 10 Bet Lynch heads and 2 glue dots that you can use to hang your bunting if you would prefer not to use pins in walls.

The bunting pieces have 2 holes already placed and the string just threads through. In the picture I have used 1 meter of the string available as I like my bunting quite close together.

The bunting is made from 300gsm matt card and string.

Buy it from Etsy, here.

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

LGBTQ in Coronation Street 2017

(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog July 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Guest Blog Post by Steve Coats-Dennis, on twitter @BlondSteve

July 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the Royal assent being given on Sexual Offences Act 1967.  What better time to consider how soaps, in particular Coronation Street, are representing LGBTQ lives and issues?

Continuing drama, with its unique ability to tell stories over weeks, months and even years, is perfectly placed to reflect the everyday experience of characters from a diverse background of sexualities, races, gender identifications and classes.

Earlier this month, I attended a Royal Television Society event at The Hospital Club in London which was discussing the intriguing topic of LGBTQ representation in soaps. Corrie star Daniel Brocklebank, who plays Billy Mayhew, suggested that “Soaps are incredibly powerful in terms of being able to get a message out and in changing people’s perceptions”. They are able to do this because of their intimate nature. Being in people’s living rooms, viewers feel like they know the characters. They can meet a gay vicar or a transsexual head teacher in a soap when they may not have in their own lives.

Daniel is the perfect person to assess how far soaps have come in presenting LGBTQ characters over the years as he was involved in Emmerdale’s first gay kiss back in late 2005 when he played bisexual binman, Ivan Jones. Asked how audience reaction has moved on in those twelve years, the actor suggested things have moved forward but not far enough.

At the RTS Event, former Coronation Street storyliner and current Executive Producer of Hollyoaks, Bryan Kirkwood acknowledged that there is a bigger negative reaction when gay couples move from the living room to the bedroom and humorously musing, “What did people think they were doing?”

This negativity was illustrated in September last year, when Corrie aired a scene of Todd Grimshaw and Billy kissing on a bed and discussing sex. According to Brocklebank, this provoked a “huge homophobic response” on social media. The actor revealed that he had been contacted by Michael Cashman, who famously gave the first gay kiss in British soaps back in 1987 as Colin Russell in EastEnders, saying “‘I can’t believe you’re having to put up with the same sh*t that I was putting up with 30 years ago.”

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, cleared Coronation Street over complaints about Todd and Billy’s kissing scene and rightly so, but I think it’s worth noting that this negative minority was anticipated and to an extent pandered to. Daniel revealed that the scene was originally meant to have both characters shirtless but the production team decided to keep them clothed to dial down the scene.

With five characters currently identifying as LGBTQ on the cobbles (Billy, Todd, Sophie, Kate and Sean), it’s easy to think job done and celebrate how far the show has come. It’s telling that former Coronation Street actor Charlie Condou felt he had to defend the number of gay characters on the show as recently as April this year when he was interviewed by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

Considering recent research from Public Health England estimates that there are more than 1.3 million lesbian, gay or bisexual people in England, the majority living in major conurbations like London and Manchester, five characters in Weatherfield certainly doesn’t look excessive.

I think for the production teams of soaps, on the whole, inclusion of LGGTQ characters is no longer the issue. It would be unthinkable for ITV’s flagship soap not to represent such diversity within the Street.  The RTS panel discussed how bold Corrie was to present a trans character as early as 1998 at a time when the political climate was hostile and Section 28 was still in force.

Annie Wallace, who went on to become the first transgender actor to play a regular transgender character in a British soap (Sally St. Claire in Hollyoaks), was involved in shaping the character of Hayley by relating her own experiences of transition to the production team. She maintains that Corrie deserves a real pat on the back for Hayley, introducing a trans character even before they had a gay character on the show.

I think the challenge now for soaps is not having LGBTQ characters but in the stories they tell. One of EastEnders’ core scriptwriters Pete Lawson told the RTS audience: “We've got to a point where being gay isn't the story”. Bryan Kirkwood agreed saying it's not just about wheeling in a gay or trans character adding that their sexuality shouldn't be the most interesting thing: “their sexuality should be the fifth or sixth most interesting thing about them”.

So how should LGBTQ characters be presented? Oliver Kent, the head of continuing drama series on BBC, explained “If it feels like we ever look like we’re pushing an agenda, it will feel bogus and the audience can tell straight away”. I think there’s a real narrative cul-de-sac if LGBTQ characters are only ever role models

Recently I read a discussion on Digital Spy’s Soap forum where the poster was unhappy that gay characters currently were too anodyne: “There is also a tendency for any LGBT characters to be disproportionately good, kind and caring rather than devious and nasty”. Even when you think of a character like Caz Hammond, the negativity was limited to jealousy, faking an injury then her own murder and with a bit of webcam spying thrown in for good measure. I mean who of us hasn’t done that at some point? Oh. Anyway, moving on, the character lasted for less than a year. As long as there’s a balance among your LGBTQ characters, why couldn’t we have one who is as spiteful as a Tracy or as nasty and conniving as a Phelan?

Emmerdale’s series producer, Iain MacLeod, told the RTS audience that “Soap is about holding up mirror to modern life in Britain”. I think this is central to keeping our continuing dramas relevant and engaging.

One aspect of modern LGBTQ life I would like to see reflected in Coronation Street is homophobia, both explicit and tacit. Home Office data on hate crimes published early this year clearly demonstrated that the number of recorded homophobic hate crimes in England and Wales has surged. Over seven thousand hate crimes based on sexual orientation were recorded in the previous financial year. Summer’s grandmother Geraldine recently has given a rare depiction of bigotry with her homophobic attitude to Todd and Billy and their suitability to look after Drew’s daughter – but I suspect it will be a passing storyline.

Truly to reflect society, I believe the Street should have a regular character whose views are homophobic. When Les Battersby continued to “deadname” Hayley as Harold, her pre-transition identity, it reflected the ongoing challenge for acceptance LGBTQ people face in everyday life.
I think continuing dramas like Coronation Street and the other soaps work best if there’s a moral challenge at the heart of their storylines. By putting such arguments and uncomfortable issues onto the screen, soaps have the power to highlight subjects their audiences might not have experienced personally.  When stories such Hayley and Roy Cropper’s loving relationship is played out in people’s living rooms week in and week out, it allows viewers to become habituated with issues and characters they might have instinctively disagreed with.

I think Corrie should be proud how well and entertainingly they have depicted their LGBTQ characters and I would encourage the production team and the writers to be bold in continuing to explore broader and even stronger diversity in their stories of Weatherfield lives.

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter
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