I’ve been where Steve McDonald is right now; and it is, without a doubt, the worst thing that I have ever felt. Even though it is estimated that a massive 1 in every 3 of us will experience first hand some form of mental health issue, there is still an alarming amount of education and awareness required on the matter of depression and anxiety.
That is why I couldn’t be more proud of Britain’s top soap, Coronation Street, for tackling this issue head on with the sensitivity, honesty and realism that it is currently expressing. Those millions of you who read my soap musings both here and on social media will know that I have been fairly critical of Coronation Street over the last few months. But where it has been lacking in other areas, it has more than redeemed itself in this particular storyline.
For quite some time, and very subtly, we have seen Steve struggle with his moods to the point where he currently finds himself at; thoroughly sapped of the joy and energy that the character is famous for. Simon Gregson is playing a blinder of a performance with this story he’s been given; it is a huge challenge to portray accurately but I recognise so much in Steve. From the blocking out of important everyday worries to the emptiness in his eyes and the lost expression on his face, Steve is a broken man. And yet, the regular comments and tweets I am seeing from people saying ‘What is even wrong with Steve?’ and ‘Steve needs to man up and pull himself together’ proves that many people still don’t really understand the horrendous effects depression can have on the sufferer and on the people around them.
The people tweeting ‘Carla has been through much worse and you don’t see her going on like Steve.’ are not being malicious or tactless; it’s just that there is still a genuine stigma around metal health that perceives people who are overcome by depression as being weak. As Corrie is setting out to prove, that is far from the case. Steve isn’t just being miserable or feeling sorry for himself; he is ill. And that illness is preventing him from feeling any pleasure or hope in life. He is being swallowed by a darkness that really cannot be described in words and it is heart-rending to watch.
When I said last time that I would round up my feelings on various soap matters every so often, I bet you thought I didn’t have the stamina to see it through. Shows how wrong you are, doesn’t it? So what’s happened since I last took a step back and had an overall look over soapland? Peter and Rob are both gone from Corrie, Shirley has reappeared in EastEnders and Jimmy King has had the snip reversed in Emmerdale. What hasn’t happened? Alfie Moon hasn’t become likeable yet and no one has burned down that blasted Weatherfield Community Centre. Still, Corrie have announced an exciting live episode for next September, so there’s an idea on what they can do for that.
Here we are then, a handful of things off the top of my chaotic head that I’ve adored and despised in equal measure. Of course, I’m only right 95% of the time, so I’d love to hear your views on what’s nailed it and what’s missed the spot. We have a gorgeous comments box which is just aching for your opinions and you can also chat to me on Twitter HERE: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA
What I’ve LOVED
Emmerdale: The White Clan
Home Farm needs a family with a bit of dosh, a bit of class and a whole lot of bitchiness about the place and all of the Whites, except perhaps the dog (so far) tick every one of those boxes. Lawrence, despite spending much of his time trying to get rid of his son in law and faking heart attacks, is a thoroughly likeable character, while caramel voiced Chrissie is the much needed bit of posh that Emmerdale has been lacking since the Lady Tara Oakwell days. She is fiesty, knows her own mind and wickedly sharp but also has a vulnerability to her given that she has fallen hook, line and sinker for the odious Robert. Speaking of whom, he has come come back with a new face and his wickedness cranked up by several hundred degrees and he is such a brilliantly camp villain that I love him already. His smarmy smirk, his little schemes, his manipulation of all of those around him; he has livened Emmerdale and the Sugden clan up no end. A character we will love to hate, I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next and, when Chrissy discovers his true colours, her reaction will be top claaarrrssss darling while Lawrence will have an incredibly well deserved ‘I told you so’ smile. Beautiful!
Thank heavens for small mercies: some Corrie episodes that I actually enjoyed! This is becoming a rare treat these days but last night’s double was an entertaining hour of soap.
Anything that focuses on the brilliant Sally Webster, played by Sally Dynevor, is automatically half way there. I make no secret of the fact that I adore Sally; she is classic Corrie and always delivers, whether it’s in her eager to please factory scenes, her outrageous snobbery moments or her down to earth kitchen sink drama, she is undoubtedly one of the show’s strongest characters.
Pairing her with Tim was a stroke of wonder; the pair are fantastic together and I love the added layer of making Kevin and Tim mates. Corrie could have easily gone down the cliche path of making Kevin and Tim sworn rivals but the fact that Kevin is a somewhat awkward gooseberry in the relationship is inspired. Even though the rushed explanation into how Tim was able to message Faye wasn’t really satisfactory, the story of his inability to read is a strong one, even if it did crop up out of nowhere.
I am glad that the signs are showing that it was not a mere plot device to get Sal to make a fool of herself and I hope that Corrie see this one through properly and with the attention and sensitivity it warrants. Tim has become an endearing character and the viewers root for him so this development, if done right, can only be a positive one.
Mixed day for Carla in last night’s Corrie really. Let’s start with the good news; she’s got an order for tens of thousands of pairs of knickers. No it isn’t a crazed Alison King stalker with a bizarre under garment fetish, I’m talking an Underworld business deal here and Carla was in such high spirits that she didn’t even sack Suspicious Sal for receiving cheap flowers during work hours.
To celebrate, Carla whisked her workforce to The Rovers for celebratory drinks, proving what I have always thought: pants make people happy. The bad news was about to walk in however. Newly released Peter Barlow wasted no time in settling back onto the Street and made a bee line for his ex wife; insistent that they pick up where they left off before Tina was murdered half a century ago.
Carla’s ploy to ignore Peter didn’t last too long; given that he was much too stubborn to take the hint and the couple were granted the exclusive use of Liz’s back room. (Don’t go there.) As Carla pointed out, the last time they were in here, their lives were spectacularly falling apart so it wasn’t the best venue for a reunion but that didn’t stop Peter trying his best. When pining and begging didn’t work out, he tried a bit of blocking her exit; which, as you’ll recall, worked out great for Tony Gordon.
I had high hopes for Corrie making a bit of a turnaround during the trial scenes recently, but it’s fair to say that that week of decent drama was a one off. Coronation Street really is all over the place at the moment and the critical wedding scenes and climax of Tina’s murder story, which could have been so much more, have proven to be a turn off.
So where are we up to in the world of Weatherfield? Rob and Carla’s stag night truth or dare sesh provided the juicy titbit that it was in fact Rob who bludgeoned Tina to death. Rob thought they were just having a night of the souls but, unlike when Tony Gordon confessed to her that he killed Liam (why do murderers confess their deepest crimes to Carla on a whim? She should work for the CIA), there was no way that Carla could keep this to herself. Peter, her cheating, alcoholic, temperamental ex, is lounging behind bars with big Jim McDonald and the dullest possible cellmate for company, accused of the crime that her brother did in fact commit. All credit to Alison King; she performed well in these confession scenes as always and provided a much needed reprieve from the pantomime that was the rest of the week’s scenes.
She allowed an edgy Rob to make it all the way up the aisle before a short conversation with Ken made her decide that she couldn’t chink champagne glasses with two married murderers and decided she would tell Tracy the truth. Not wanting to stick around for the horrendous acting that was to ensue, Rob bolted off, leaping over fences like Jai from Emmerdale and pursued by no one. Tracy screeched and half heartedly tried to push Carla over so that she scuffed her knee lightly while the rest of the congregation seemed mildly interested that a murder had just been revealed at a wedding.
What’s the best part about Halloween? Is it terrifying the elderly into handing over their possessions in exchange for you to leave them alone? Is it sticking on a pair of horns and going scantily clad to a drunken party which mildly passes itself off with a Halloween theme? Maybe it’s just a milestone which means it’s officially time to start panicking about Christmas. (Yeah, 7 weeks in case you’re wondering)
To us in Pauseliveaction, Halloween means one thing and one thing only. The chance to reflect on those spooktacular TV moments that made us hide behind a cushion in sheer terror, spilling our Fizzy Haribo ghost and ghouls shapes all over the blood red carpet. So without further a-boo, here is my rundown of some of the most ghoulish TV moments of all time…
It’s been an eventful few weeks in soapland of late; with the return of gobby Cilla to Coronation Street, the return of slimeball Robert Sugden to Emmerdale, the return of sinister panto-villain Nick Cotton to Walford and the return of the grumpy Dylan to Casualty but nobody can say that the soaps rely on old faces to bring in the viewers. Oh, no, there has been much, much more going on besides. Unfortunately not all of it has been good. Here’s my every-so-often roundup of what’s hot and what’s not in the world of soaps…
What I’ve LOVED…
More screentime for Gaynor Faye AKA Megan Macey (Emmerdale)
If there ever was a soap actress who was criminally underrated then it is the Dales’ Gaynor. She has proven over the last few weeks that, when given the material, she can consistently deliver some of soap’s strongest performances. Megan’s anguish in the wake of Robbie’s demise, her bitterness against Leyla upon discovering her business partner’s trysts with Jai and her viper-sharp cattiness towards Charity have all been sublime to watch. Megan is a character whose layers are only truly starting to be noticed and, the more I discover about her, the more I enjoy watching her. The tough exterior has long hidden a likeable vulnerability and I hope Gaynor and Megan both stick around for a long time to come. She’s the only one who can keep the Macey name alive!
Steve McDonald’s depression story (Coronation Street)
Could there have been a better candidate for such an important story than Steve McDonald, played by the fantastically versatile Simon Gregson? Taking a character who is often perceived as a joke and who has a tendency to mess around and be light hearted and show that they, as much as anyone else, can be susceptible to the demons of depression has been a worthwhile writing decision. The story is honest and non-sensational; it shows a man reaching his midlife crisis in a very difficult way; finally succumbing to the stress he is constantly under. It accurately captures the mistakes and misconceptions those around someone with depression can make and Simon himself is making a heartbreakingly perfect job of portraying a man at the end of his tether. While it’s sad to see Steve in this way, it’s providing incredible drama and it is important for viewers to go along on this journey with such an established character as, at some time in our lives, almost all of us will have brushes with depression in some way. Well played on this one, Corrie.