Thursday, 20 July 2017

Robert's Drug Problem

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

Last night Chesney was stabbed in the shoulder by an out of control drug dealer with a wine bottle.  It was staggeringly unrealistic.  I don't just mean Chesney managing to get a deep tissue wound from a bit of a bump; I don't just mean the way the Bistro emptied in about thirteen seconds (including all the kitchen staff, apparently); I don't just mean Michelle immediately turning into a sniveling hysterical wreck, despite the fact that she could probably wrestle a marauding thug to the ground with one hand and not spill her Babycham.  I don't even mean Daniel saying Back To The Future III was the best of the trilogy, even though no-one with any sense - and certainly not someone with the intellect of Daniel - would ever think that.

My main problem with this storyline was that it was based on a narrative untruth.  Apparently Robert was, at one point in his life, a rampant coke head, and I refuse to believe this is even slightly true.

Robert Preston is the most boring character in Coronation Street and remember, this is a cast that includes Ken Barlow.  I do not believe that Robert has ever done anything as interesting as snort some blow.  I don't believe Robert has done anything as interesting as leaving the immersion on overnight.

Boring can be fine.  He used to be boring in a perfectly acceptable way.  Robert first came into the show as a teenage carpet fitter who fell in love with Tracy Barlow.  This was v3 Tracy, so that wasn't quite as hard to believe as it would be in 2017 (although she was already a kidney thief at that point).  The pair married in 1996, with Tracy wearing a charity shop dress and Doc Martens, because that was what everyone was wearing in 1996.  Even the boys.  Robert, for his part, wore a dull but respectable suit that reflected his personality.  The two of them then moved to London and vanished for years, only returning to Weatherfield for the odd party.  He was nice and reliable and perfectly acceptable as a beau for Miss Barlow.

Finally Tracy - having morphed into her final form, a demon Gorgon intent on wreaking havoc across the cosmos - left Robert and moved back to t'North.  They got a divorce, and he quietly disappeared into Tracy's past, one of those bits of her history that never got mentioned - like the time she ran away to visit Susan Barlow in Newcastle, or the time she murdered her boyfriend in cold blood and then, somehow, got away with it.

Robert made a return for Deirdre's funeral, and he'd had a morph of his own.  Instead of being the ordinary, perfectly pleasant looking young man we'd last seen in 2002, Robert Preston had turned into a "hunk".  Suddenly he was six foot something, dark and brooding and ready to make the ladies swoon.  In theory, anyway.  The truth is that Robert is missing that indefinable spark that makes him actually sexy.  He's undeniably good looking - he looks like an Action Man carved out of granite - but he's not got that oomph.  Peter Barlow and Gary Windass have that oomph, despite being, respectively, a slightly chubby fifty-something and a ginger with a broken nose.  They're sexy.  Robert is just... handsome.  Handsome but dull.

Still, Tracy seemed keen to start all over again with him, despite not showing even the slightest inkling to rekindle their romance in the thirteen years since she dumped him.  They were soon getting hot and heavy on that uncomfortable looking sofa in Ken's back room, and then Robert was moving in with her, abandoning his wife Sarah Harding Joni for a bit of Barlow.  It seemed that since living with Tracy he'd retrained as a highly talented professional chef, despite, as Tracy recalled, not being able to boil an egg when they were together.

Yes, in the 13 years between his two appearances, Robert had discovered a deep and abiding love of food that caused him to carve out an entirely new career.  And what do you know, just as Robert became unemployed from his last job, Leanne and Nick were looking for a new chef for the Bistro.  What are the chances of that happening?

But of course, that wasn't all he was doing in those 13 years.  We now learn that he spent much of that time out of his head on scag.  Remember, we've seen Robert as a young man (when he looked like Julian Kay) and we've seen Robert in middle age (when he looked like Tristan Gemmill).  You can draw a straight line from nice but dull carpet fitter Robert to nice but dull chef Robert.  Apparently, that's all wrong, and for some reason he went mad in his thirties.  This would admittedly explain why he married human lump of wood Sarah Harding, but really?  Try and picture a thirty-something Robert off his nut on Colombian marching powder, bouncing off the walls of a club and speaking nineteen to the dozen.  You can't, can you?

That's because Robert is just so boring.  He's bland.  He's white bread.  I could imagine Robert, perhaps, at one point, having too many pints of Carling (definitely Carling) and vomiting outside a kebab shop, but it would have to be a special occasion.  And the next morning he'd have had a roaring hangover and sworn never to do that again and he'd actually never do it again.  I can't imagine Robert having the hedonistic wild side that would let him abandon his thoughts and emotions to the influence of psychoactive substances.

Rich the drug dealer threatened to tell Michelle about "Catherine" in last night's show; presumably this is some poor moll he got high with who died - I'm imagining something like camp classic Desperate Lives, where Helen Hunt tries drugs for the first time and then immediately throws herself out of a window.  A girlfriend who died in tragic circumstances; another contrived attempt to make Robert something resembling an interesting character.  He'll have to have packed a lot more into those thirteen years away from the Street than a bit of a drug habit to make me even sit up in my chair.  I look forward to future storylines about his time as the bassist in Metallica, his Formula 1 wins, and his year as the sexual plaything of Sharon Stone.  And then I'll shrug and wait for a more interesting character to turn up.

By @merseytart

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this makes me the writing

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