Friday, 24 December 2010

A very Corrie Christmas! The Noughties

We arrive in the twenty first century, one which began in Weatherfield with the clatter of Raquel Watts returning to the cobbles for one night only. It was a sensational decade for the Street in more ways than one but you coulod always count on Christmas to bring the residents together. Couldn't you?

Eileen? Miserable? Never!
It's Christmas 2000 and Jason Grimshaw makes his debut and is introduced to Eileen's latest squeeze, Dennis. Ken and Deirdre serve up a tense festive meal made worse by Peter's comments and Liz storming out. Kevin admits to feeling guilty about Alison's death, Andrea Clayton visits Jack and Vera and over at the café, Roy and Hayley play host to young Wayne.

"Do you think I'm sexy?" No
2001 gave us, arguably, one of the most repulsive festive spectacles (therein lies a clue) ever witnessed. Other things were afoot though. Roy and Hayley attempt to run a free food service for the homeless but no one turns up at the café. However all is not lost as, due to a gas problem, Fred, Eve, Sally, Ashley and Maxine all end up there for lunch. A drunken Peter lashes out at Deirdre. She storms out of number one and into the arms of Dev Alahan. A nation shuddered.

By 2002, Emily is front and centre of Christmas celebrations. She hosts Norris, Rita, Audrey and Archie. A later visit from Richard Hillman almost cost Emily her life. Elsewhere, Blanche deserts the Barlows and turns up at Emily's for lunch. Unhappy with the throng there, she returns home where, joy oh joy, Tracy shows up.

Poor old Norris wrecks dinner for Emily and Rita by forgetting to switch the oven on. Even worse, Betty travels to 'my Gordon' only to find him gone! She spends Christmas at the Rovers. Blanche, in generous mood, buys number 7 for mum-to-be Tracy. Father-to-be Steve threatens to kill Tracy if she ever mentions that he is the dad. Oh and Tyrone has a drunken snog with Fiz.

A rose between two thorns?
It all kicked off with Tracy, Steve and Karen at Christmas 2004. After trying to mow Karen down in a car, Tracy faces her nemesis on the factory roof. There can be only one winner and Steve eventually sends Karen packing. Ashley marries Claire, with Joshua wearing his Spiderman outfit. Kirk confuses his gifts and presents Cilla with a bone and Schmeichel with a pair of tights.

2005 was the year when Cilla and Yana attempted to deep fry a turkey. Result? One burnt-out chip shop! Mike's health gives cause for concern, especially when he fails to remember that his brother is dead. Vera buys Jack a burial plot for Christmas and Claire's present to Ashley is her announcement that she is pregnant.

There's another memorable Christmas at Gail's home in 2006. Audrery is not only tucking into turkey but also Bill Webster. However, his wife Maureen arrives and manages to destroy a table and a plum pudding within minutes. Over at the Grimshaw's, a young girl dumps a baby on Eileen claiming that it is Jason's. Molly trains Jack and Tyrone to tidy up, much to Vera's surprise. At the Rovers, Steve provides dinner for Ken, Deirdre and Blanche!

Festive punch ups for all at Christmas 2007. Kevin floors John Stape for having a relationship with the ditzy Rosie. Roy faces the festive season without Hayley and makes do with Becky instead. Sarah thinks that moving to Italy could be a new start for her, Jason and Bethany but David seethes at the injustice of it all. Over tat the Rovers Michelle pretends to be having a good time for the sake of Ryan.

Santa Claus isn't coming to town . . .
There's a new Mr Nasty in town by 2008. Tony Gordon thinks he has killed Jed Stone but the old man has survived. Gail and Joe's Christmas is invaded by the Windasses who cause mayhem. Joe eventually leaves his own party. Becky and Steve continue their secret relationship amidst the Santa's grotto that is Street Cars.

A whirl of emotions hit the Street as the decade ended. Kevin decided to make a go of things with Molly but on Christmas Day, Sally announces that she has breast cancer. This seems to act as a wake up call to Kevin but Molly is not happy. There is tension at the Barlows too thanks to the Battle of the Grandads as Ken and George square up to each other. Nick Tilsley returns, looking at least ten years older than Gail but his arrival is less than popular with Tina. At the Rovers, Steve decides that Amy needs a new brother or sister. Becky isn't so sure.

We arrive then at Christmas 2010 and a Street peopled by the bereaved and confused. Claire is a widow, Molly is dead and Kevin has become a figure of hatred. Add to this the return of the whirl of destruction that is Tracy Barlow and you have all the ingredients for another classic Corrie Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A very Corrie Christmas. The 90s

A decade of illegal raves, Cool Britannia and the death of a Princess. In Weatherfield the Queen of the Rovers bade farewell and we saw the last of Ivy, Des, Mavis and Derek. Memorable years but how memorable were the Christmas celebrations?

Like mother, like daughter
Santa must have been in a bad mood in 1990 as he managed to deliver both Rosie Webster and David Platt. Thanks for that. Meanwhile Jack & Vera's dog Boomer eats their turkey and traps them in their bedroom!

1991 was a lonely Christmas for Reg and Curly so they raided Bettabuys for champagne and caviar. Alma decides that she doesn't realy love Ken - much to Mike's delight. Spoilt little rich girl Vicky suspects Bet of having an affair with Des. Now that would have been a disgusting storyline.

Spiral perm anyone?
 Bet threw a Christmas Day lunch for Raquel, Rita, Phyllis and Denise - a kind of low level version of 'Loose Women'. Meanwhile on the Baldwin-Barlow merry-go-round, Ken is now spending Christmas with Mike's ex, the sour Maggie.

All hell broke loose at the Duckworth household in 1993 as Terry sold his own son to the Hortons. Jack rewarded him with a punch on the face. Vera sobbed over the presents. Ivy fears that Don may be on the verge of suicide (well, she was a boring woman . . .). At the Rovers, Audrey gets drunk at an after hours party and passes out.

Salaam, duck . . .
The 1994 rubbish gift award goes to Vera who presented Jack with a packet of fags. Phyllis hunts Percy down with her mistletoe, Deirdre decides to emigrate to Morocco with her young man and Curly presents Raquel with her own star.

By Christmas 1995 the Duckworths are owners of the Rovers and Vera finds the festive season exhausting. Andy goes out on a date with Maxine, Don buys Josie a bike for Christmas whereas Audrey refuses to buy Alf anything. The whacked out Duckworths have soup and a sandwich for Christmas Dinner!

It's another round of fun and joy in 1996 as Don tries to kill himself and rebukes Martin for having saved him. Vera flirts with Alec behind the bar and delights in making Jack jealous. An even more repulsive sexual encounter takes place - Curly and Maureen! She was driven to it by a tedious Christmas dinner with Percy and Maud.

Well and truly stuffed . . .
1997 sees the Battersbys sitting down to their road kill turkey. Toyah refuses to eat even a slice. Kevin is allowed across the threshold of number 13 for the day and later Sally agrees to take him back. Natalie takes this news badly but Alec, reassuring as ever, tells her that she will get over it.

The Battle of the Rovers commences at Christmas 1998. Alec rules downstairs while the beleagured Duckworths remain trapped upstairs. Blanche tells Deirdre that she wishes she had a daughter to be proud of. Judy gives birth to twins, Leanne has a fit of jealousy over Nick's lovely new jumper and Sally warns Maxine to be careful around Greg.

Happy never after . . .
It's the end of the decade and widower Gary spends Christmas Day with Jack and Vera, He even partakes in the annual tradition of thumping Terry. Doreen and Audrey flirt with a Russian sailor (what?) and Natalie invites Kevin, Jim and Curly for a depressing dinner. Ashley buys Maxine a kitten for Christmas - Fred gives the pair of them a house!

Another decade comes to pass, seemingly dominated by the Duckworths hitting each other, shouting at each other, gaining a pub and then losing it. Happy days!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

A very Corrie Christmas! The 80s

It was the decade of greed and high camp, as made popular by Margaret Thatcher and Alexis Colby. Not that any of this affected our little corner of Weatherfield, save for Bet Lynch's shoulder pads getting bigger. Christmases come and go on the Street. Here's a potted history of the festive highlights  . . .

"Are you sure you wouldn't sooner be in 'Crossroads'?"
1980 sees Emily wallowing in misery thanks to her bigamist husband Arnold. Poor old Elsie was saddled with her Brummier grandson Martin and his girlfriend. Decked out in a bad wig and a new frock, Hilda hosts a Christmas party which ends ups with Fred Gee scrapping with a binman for the affections of Audrey Potter.

Let's all gather around he yuletide table of newlywed Deirdre Barlow as she entertains Albert, Alf and (lock up yur sherry) Emily. Top of the 1981 gift list has to be Stan's show of appreciation for Hilda - he bought her an air freshener!

1982 brought scenes of an horrific nature at the Community Centre dance. Victor Pendlebury marched Emily around the dance floor whilst Chalkie Whiteley helped himself to a handful of Elsie. Jack and Vera sang a duet whereas Deirdre and Mike duetted in a very different manner.

A miserable Christmas on the Street in 1983. Len is dead and Rita reels from revelations about his affair. Elsie has a lonely yuletide but the arrival of old flame Bill Gregory gives her the possibility of a happy new year. Curly Watts declares his love for Sharon 'kennels' Gaskell in a poem.

A pre-tache Kev
 More strife at Christmas 1984 as Bill Webster decides to leave but young Kevin refuses to pack his bags. Jack hacks a piece from Percy's Christmas tree and takes it home to Vera. At the Rovers, Gordon Lewis laughs at the notion of Bet as manager. You won't be laughing for long Mr Lewis . . .

1985 sees Emily play host to Percy and Phyllis who manage to call a truce for the day. Susan Barlow upsets Christmas at number one by going out for a drink with Mike. Meanwhile Sam TIndall is unaware that his prize plum pudding has been squahed by Alf Roberts' backside.

Gail tells 'our Brian' that can have access to 'our Nicky' over the holidays. Mike decides not to make any attempt to see his son Mark again. Bet emties the staff tips box at the Rovers to find it full of small change. Jack is devestated.

"Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye . . ."
1987 and most of the UK is tuned into see Hilda wave farewell to her Muriel but not before a sentimental fireside chat with Sally Webster. Audrey opts for a lazy Christmas day much to the chagrin of Ivy and Gail. Mavis gets maudlin and drunk at Rita's.

A frantic Christmas for Ken in 1988 when Deirdre goes missing. He suspects her of having an affair but, incredibly, Deirdre and her perm have been kidnapped. She eventually escapes but 'Tracy luv' is traumatised. That could explain a lot. In a fit of Christian charity, Emily plays host to Mavis, Derek, Bet, Alec and Phyllis.

"It's either Wendy or me!" Answers on a postcard . . .
1989 and another case of 'it's all about me', courtesy of Deirdre. Ken's affair with town hall trollop Wendy Crozier is now out in the open. Jack sobers up after seeing Father Christmas on a factory roof, little knowing that it is actually Derek. Gail gives Ivy a "move on, girlfriend" message by consigning Brian's photo to the back of a drawer.

Full marks to Emily then for assembling stranger and stranger combinations of people around her Christmas table. Give the woman a Babycham!

Monday, 20 December 2010

A very Corrie Christmas! The 70s

Aah - a 1970s British Christmas! Garish foil decorations, festive TV adverts for Woolworths, Hi-Karate gift sets for the men, something by Yardley for the ladies and Ker-Plunk for the kids. Against this backdrop of cheap scent and rickety plastic toys, Corrie celebrated its own Christmas. Let us take a journey through the decade that taste forgot with Annie, Elsie, Deirdre and co . . .

It's 1970 and Albert Tatlock cancels the Christmas panto as there has been a suicide in the Street! Two former American GIs throw a farewell party in the Rovers. Maggie Clegg is sad to see them go.

By 1971, Albert is spending Christmas alone. Ken decides to visit his children and their Scottish accents in Glasgow. Ena takes pity on Albert and invites him to lunch. Stan sells his cocktail bar in order to buy some Christmas booze. I wonder what he served it from. Hilda's sideboard?

Not so much Girls Aloud as just Loud Girls
The Rovers hosts a 1940s show at Christmas 1972. Stand by for fun and frolics as Rita 'does' Marlene Dietrich, Norma, Bet and Betty appear as the Andrews Sisters and Emily balances some old fruit on her head (a-hem) and passes herself off as Carmen Miranda.

1973 was obviously the season of bad will. Emily and Ernie Bishop make Ena homeless (had Emily been at the 'whisky and tranquilisers' combo again?) but the good fairy, Deirdre, persuades Len and Ray to make Jerry Booth a partner in their business.

"Well Minnie Caldwell, if the turkey's off, we can always eat that cat!"
Eddie Yeats makes his first appearance on Christmas Day 1974 and cooks lunch for Ena and Minnie. Blanche's dinner outdoes Annie Walker's high tea and, oh decadent seventies, we are treated to a shot of Deirdre smoking a cigar. Now we know where she got that voice from . . .

1975 and it's Cinderella at the Community Centre. Tricia appears in the title role with a black eyes, courtesy of Deirdre, Pipe Smoker of the Year. Alf and Hilda play the Ugly Sisters and Betty is the fairy.

Scenes of a disturbing sexual nature at Christmas 1976 as Vera Duckworth tries to undress Ernie Bishop. Terry Bradshaw calls Gail a tart and slaps her face. A nation cheered. Mike Baldwin gives Bet the keys to number 5.

1977 sees Annie throw a laugh-a-minute festive lunch with Albert and Fred Gee. Elsie and Rita have a bitching session over the turkey and sprouts whereas the Ogdens just settle for getting legless.

"Ooh I do like a man with a nice bouffant . . ."
It's the Winter of Discontent in the UK but hamster chops Gail snares 'our Brian'. Emily enhances her reputation as a lush and a deviant by getting sozzled on Eddie's home-made vino. Some bloke called Tim sets his cap at Suzie Birchall but finds himself going home with the lovely Deirdre.

Christmas 1979 arrives and Rita is underwhelmed with her gift from Len - a box of chocolates. In a rare display of good will to  . . . well, anyone, Ivy invites Audrey for Boxing Day. Meanwhile the Ogdens face the holiday season with no food.

For the second decade running then, Emily lurches from one drunken party to the next. Will anything or anyone slow down this perennial good time girl in a tweed skirt? All will be revealed in our next instalment.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A very Corrie Christmas!

One of the many things that I have loved about Corrie over the years, is the use of the Christmas episodes for either a bit of fun or something sentimental and heart-warming. Not for them the site of a main character dropping dead under a Christmas tree or the revelation of a squalid affair. Maybe I'm looking at things through rose (or eve Rosie) tinted glasses. Let's join the Ghost of Weatherfield Christmas Past to learn the truth . . .

1960 - a less than jolly holiday for Ena Sharples. She collapses after being caught boozing in the Rovers by Leonard Swindley.

More misery for Ena in 1961 when she chokes on sixpences hidden in Minnie Caldwell's Christmas pudding.

"And a pint of whisky for Miss Nugent . . ."
 It's 1962 and, in what one can only hope is a long-forgotten storyline, Emily is plied with tranquilisers and whisky. Well, it was the swinging sixties . . .

Residents gather in the Mission Hall for a special Christmas 1963 staging of "This is Your Life" with Annie Walker as the guest. There are rare appearances from Joan and Billy Walker.

1964 - and it's pantomime time! Oh no it isn't! Yes it is actually, and Len Fairclough gets a custard pie in the face. The whole cast sing the Beatles hit "She loves you" at the close of proceedings. What, even Ena?

The highlight of Christmas 1965 is David Barlow's torn knee ligament. I kid you not.

Ooh heck! With a storyline worthy of Walford, Ena Sharples looks on as her daughter dies. Merry Christmas 1966.

"Now who knows the chorus to 'Smack my Bitch Up'?"
1967 brings the warm glow of nostalgia and a Rovers singsong. That's more like it!

Free from her early tranquiliser hell, Emily throws herself at the vicar. Everyone else gets drunk in the Rovers and the usual singsong ensues, 1968 style.

"By crikey Emily Nugent you're a dark horse!"
It's the end of the decade and there is a concert in the Rovers Select. Ena and Emily sing "Cockles and Mussels", Minnie recites "The Owl and the Pussycat" and Val strips down to her bra. That last one wasn't true . . .

A decade then filled with Ena either being ill or leading drunken carousing at the piano. All hail Emily Nugent too, drug-taking, whisky-swilling, vicar-baiting floozy that she was.

Coming soon - The Seventies!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Summing up the week

Ta chuck! It's been a great week . . .
Excuse the pun - but this week has been a blast! I can't remember any TV programme having ever drained my emotions in such an exhaustive manner. I can only echo the sentiments of so many people in the many reports that have praised the production values and superb acting that we have been treated to. Is it fair to be critical of any aspects of the storyline though? Personally - and this really is only my opinion - I though that some of the dialogue was a little clunky in Monday's first episode, the knowing comments and the declarations of love. However, it did help to set the scene. Like pretty much the rest of the nation, I gasped as the tram hurtled over the viaduct but couldn't resist a smile as it glided down as though on a magic carpet. I also admit to a quiet giggle as Rita disappeared under a shower of soft centres.

The live episode was unbelievably good. I was worried that it might turn out to be as laugh-out-loud as the "EastEnders" effort back in February. Last night taught me to have more faith. Fulsome praise has to go to Sally Dynevor, Vicky Binns, Jane Danson and Chris Gascoyne for outstanding performances. I hope they had a few drinks post broadcast! Vicky Binns in particular must be delighted at having signed off with such a powerful storyline. I still hold the view that Molly was a character who could have gone far and who was ruined by the horrendous Molvin storyline. I think nerves may have got the better of one actor last night (no names) but the performance was greeted with some laughter in my household. As the grin faded from my face though I thought, "Could I have performed live in front of 14 million people?" Answer? No.

For me, Corrie has, this week, cemented its tradition for fine, character-led stories. Let's face it, there were so many personal stories to choose from  Part of me would be happy to sacrifice a couple of episodes a week if we were to get such richly produced scenes in future. However, the commercial needs of ITV are first and foremost.

I think we are in for an interesting time in 2011. Corrie will have new characters and no doubt lots of new situations for the surviving characters. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

When is a soap death a good death?

This may sound like an odd question to pose but this week's high drama in Weatherfield causes it to be debated one more time. For the story editor, it's a chance to plunder our emotional reserves and, if handled correctly, have as much impact on surving characters as possible.

Martha meets her maker
Corrie doesn't always get it right though. Step forward Martha Longhurst (well she would if she wasn't already dead). Back in 1964 producer Tim Aspinall decided to rid himself of the Rovers' charlady. As many fans know, she was dispatched in the Rovers' snug, clutching her passport. The fallout, initially, was immense even to the point where viewers were sending floral tributes to the Granada studios. Before long though, the reality soon became apparent. The trio of elderly harridans, Ena, Martha and Minnie had now been reduced to a rather sad duo. Was Martha's death a mistake? Probably.

"I'm sure this isn't the best way to get a home perm . . ."
Some Weatherfield deaths have been for the good. The dreary Renee Roberts was killed off in 1980 when the producer, together with actress Madge Hindle, decided that the character had served its purpose. Likewise, a decade earlier, Anne Reid had asked producer June Howson to get rid of Valerie Barlow forever. The character's death opened up new possibilities for single dad Ken. Well, it proved that he was never going to be Father of the Year at any rate.

The wonderful Jack Howarth
Sadly, necessity some calls for a character to be written out when the actor portraying the part dies. Corrie has handled such deaths with sensitivity. In the case of Arthur Leslie, who played Jack Walker until 1970, the character died off screen. The actor's family were spared further upset and when Annie Walker returned, it was apparent that her grieving had been done elsewhere. In 1984, following the death of Bernard Youens, Stan Ogden was discretely moved to a hospital where he died. Albert Tatlock was staying with his daughter when he passed away, some months after the death of actor Jack Howarth.

Elsie - possibly still alive, somewhere . . .
Some characters, oddly, have never died. Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner's deaths have never been officially mentioned in the series, yet they are usually referred to in the past tense.

As of yet, we the viewing public do not know for definite who will perish in Weatherfield by the end of the week. What we can expect though is a winter of discontent for those left behind.