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.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like Ashley's first to go and since the house has burned i reckon Claire will move away to France with her mother and the boys. If Sunita goes and the shop is destroyed, will Dev and the twins stay around? HE's still got 5 or 6 other shops after all and the kebab place.