Thursday, 27 July 2017

The End of a Rovers Return Era

Reposted from State of the Street with permission

For the second and final time, the McDonalds have sold the pub and Liz will no longer be ruling the roost from behind the bar.

She first worked at the pub in the early 1990s as a cook, helping Betty Turpin and it seemed to spark her ambition. Newton and Ridley offered her the Queens and she and Jim ran that for awhile but it was her pub, not his and his jealousy killed their relationship temporarily over it. It didn't end well for Liz. She's worked behind the bar at the Rovers on and off but missed out on her chance to be the landlady when Vera and Jack Duckworth beat she and Jim to the post after Bet had to give up the pub, unable to find a financial backer when the Brewery wanted to sell the pub.

This began a period of unsettled life for Liz. Her marriage eventually died, she was involved with a hood for awhile, had an attraction to Des Barnes, nearly reunited with Jim but fell for Jim's physiotherapist. She remarried Jim some years later when he was banged up for killing Jez Quigley but it didn't last. We didn't see a lot of Liz as she first followed Jim around as he was moved to various prisons and later, she lived in Brighton for awhile and spent a lot of time in Spain with her son, Andy. She returned to work for Fred Elliott and when he decided to sell up and travel with his new bride, Bev, Steve bought the bar from him, though it ended being from the Estate of Fred Elliott since Fred died on his wedding day before it was formally sold. Ashley, as his next of kin, finished the transaction and Steve owned the pub, with Liz's name over the door. It was a dream come true for Liz who had always wanted to own the Rovers Return.

There were more ups and downs, a marriage and divorce (Vernon Tomlin), a number of fellas including Harry Mason and Lloyd Mullaney and a near-reconciliation with a newly-released Jim which went badly when he robbed a bank to get the money to buy the pub from Steve for her. she left Weatherfield,  brokenhearted. Steve found a manager, Stella Price,  and then later sold the pub to her and her partner Karl, but that was a disaster which ended in Karl burning down the pub, killing two people. Liz returned a couple of years later to be Steve's business partner when he bought the pub back.

Even though it was Steve and Michelle's names over the door this time, and even though Michelle might tell people she was the landlady, we all knew the truth. That title belonged to Elizabeth Jane McDonald. For me, Liz has entered the Rovers Landlady Hall of Fame, just as worthy as former Queens Bet Lynch and Annie Walker. Lesser landladies, Natalie Horrocks and the hapless Vera Duckworth are not as memorable and we won't even give a side glance at Ms. Price who faltered before she even rounded the first stretch of the track. Shelly Unwin, a manager under Fred Elliott had potential but never had her name over the door and Becky McDonald, Steve's (4th?) wife was far too volatile to be one of the greats. 

Steve's marriage to Michelle has been on rocky ground for a long time and his one night stand with Leanne Battersby and subsequent paternal revelation was the straw that broke the back of that union. Michelle was bent on financial revenge so Steve buckled down and put the pub up for sale. Even though he wouldn't have to fight for the right to see baby Oliver after all, Liz ended up selling her share as well and is taking a job at the medical clinic while Steve still has Streetcars to run with his partner Tim.

It's a shame, really. But with a new producer, things always change. I'm not so sure about the sale of the pub to alcoholic Peter Barlow. Even though he knows that if he drinks again, it will likely kill him after that last binge in the prison drinking bootleg moonshine, the temptation is there. And his partner, Toyah Battersby will be the landlady. A mere shadow of the former greats, is Toyah. Oh, she used to have spark and the Toyah we knew 15 years ago, back when she was a barmaid at the pub, probably would have had us nodding collectively and speculating that she might make a good landlady someday.

Toyah is much changed from those days. She shows the occasional flashback to the Little Madam she was but I can't see that she'll be comfortable behind that bar. She's not blonde for one thing. The best landladies have always been blonde. She scowls. She's a bit of a whiner. She'll probably nag the life out of Peter who will probably start spending a lot of time down in the cellar with the racing form a la Jack Duckworth. She just doesn't have that air of authority. Troublemaking punters won't take any notice when she tries to order someone out of "her" pub.

We aren't losing Liz from the Street. She and Steve will be living in the Streetcars' flat but it will seem strange not to see her behind the bar.

Let's all raise a glass to Liz McDonald, one of the best landladies the Rovers Return has ever seen.

Thanks to Corriepedia and

Bev Callard speaks about losing the pub and new acting challenges.

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter

1 comment:

kib said...

There should probably be some space between one great landlady and the next. It took years for Liz to grow into that role and it could take years for Toyah...or the next great landlady could be someone we haven't met yet. There's a lot of apprehension for Peter to be the landlord but really I don't see the difference between him and Jim McDonald who also had a problem with the bottle. I also know many people can live with alcoholism for the rest of their lives without having a drink.

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