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Gastric bands, Macey Madness and Big Jim McDonald: Our Man In The North’s soap review of the 2014

1395713524_Les-Dennis-on-Coronation-Well what a soap year 2014 has been. EastEnders pushed its brand new Carter clan to the forefront of every storyline imaginable, culminating in a cracking Christmas crescendo while Emmerdale was at its whacky best with lakeside showdowns, suicidal cops and storage container kidnappings aplenty. Meanwhile, Corrie welcomed Ken Barlow and Kevin Webster back to the fold and triumphed with the storyline of Steve’s depression; but has been depressingly lacklustre elsewhere.
In a year where we’ve had explosions, suicides, donated sperm, secret children, identity theft, chaotic weddings, ill advised smooches, murderous looking sheep, irate Irish prisoners, devastating scars that look more like papercuts, long running (and I mean VERY long running) murder mysteries, face swapping returnees, pig thefts, schizophrenia, farming mishaps, horrific rapes, drug dramas and Norris learning to use a tablet, it is difficult to compile a list of highlights.
Nothing stops me, however, so here we go: a month by month reminder of the good, the bad and sheer nutty of 12 months in Walford, Weatherfield and the Dales. Enjoy and here’s to the next twelve months. Click below to get reading!

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Coronation Street: Better the Dev you know

coronationstreetjulie“You had me at amazing!” gushed a breathless Julie, placing a solitary finger against Dev’s lips and being the first person to ever shut him up with any ease. This says a worrying amount about how little it takes to impress Julie, given that Dev only got the chance to deliver the one adjective, but the Street’s latest will they/won’t they pairing are very much now on.

It wasn’t an easy ride though (don’t go there, just don’t). Julie had been partially snared by Dev’s random business contact of the week, the dashing Dominic and, instead of being an adult about the situation and simply telling Julie how he felt, Dev thought it would be the best idea to play a few mind games to try and set the couple off on the wrong foot; thus allowing Dev to swoop in like the Lothario he is. He told Julie that Dominic was still aching from a divorce (Dev, really, not much can put off a woman who has locked lips with her nephew and fallen head over heels in love with Brian Packham) while he went for the ‘Julie is as mad as a box of starving cats’ tactic with Dominic. Which didn’t involve a huge amount of lying to be fair.  Continue reading

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Coronation Street: The secret prison diary of Peter Barlow

soaps-corrie-8509-2Mixed 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.

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Coronation Street: The joys of murder, depression, osteoporosis and diabetes

Coronation_Street_spoilers__Tracy_to_go_on_the_run_with_Rob__Kate_Ford_interviewI 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.

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Coronation Street: Cheerio now Peter!

soaps-corrie-8495-2Peter Barlow is guilty of a lot of things such as bigamy, cheating, being somewhat of an unreliable father, heavy drinking and looking a bit like Al Pacino. But one thing he is not guilty of, unless you’re on the jury deciding his fate, is murder. In true soap fashion it was therefore inevitable that he would be convicted, much to the dismay of Ken, Tracy and Carla and to the short lived relief of true killer Rob Donovan.

Rob has blood and fake tan on his hands and, despite Peter now being officially framed for the crime, he is falling apart at the seams. And Carla, who has dealt with her fair share of liars and killers in her recent history, is beginning to smell a rat. Why is Rob so sure Peter is guilty and why does he hate him so much? Why, at the same time, is he assuring young Simon that his dad hasn’t done anything wrong? And why is he constantly looking shifty and sneaking covert looks of menace at the cameras at every opportunity? These puzzle pieces are beginning to slot together for Carla who, now more than ever, knows that her incarcerated husband is innocent.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the locals, with Eileen commenting that if Peter didn’t want to do the time, he shouldn’t have done the crime (forgetting that much of Weatherfield had her accused of killing Fireman Paul’s wife Lesley with a toaster), Foghorn Fiz claiming to have known Peter was guilty all along (forgetting that she stood trial wrongly accused of the murders of John Stape’s victims) and Gail suggesting that justice has now been done for Tina (forgetting that she once stood trial falsely accused of killing her husband Joe).

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Coronation Street: Deirdre is a trifle upset

Coronation-Street-WK41Deirdre doesn’t have much luck with desserts does she? I still have fond memories of Gail giving her a faceful of Manchester tart (I’m referring to the cream filled delicacy here; not Leanne) but last night, it was her famous trifle that was creating a mess, as recent pressures took their toll and she pulverised her pudding against the Barlow front room wall.

At first, I thought Deirdre’s fit of temper was a result of her anguish at the state of recent Corrie storylines such as Tyrone falling through his attic floor and Neil and Tim getting stuck on roofs. But it turns out that this whole Peter business has affected Deirdre more than anyone realised and as Tracy, Rob, Carla and Ken bickered over the imminent trial across the dinner table, unset jelly and a lack of hundreds and thousands sprinkles pushed Deirdre over the edge. In a cataclysmic pandemonium of watery jelly, wobbly custard (unsprinkled) and soggy sponge, the evening’s dessert was thrown against the wall and Ken finally realised just how stressed his poor wife had become.   Continue reading

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EastEnders and Coronation Street preview: What a blast!

soaps-eastenders-moon-house-fire-2WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS. Please do not read further if you prefer to avoid them. 

The aroma of plump sausages sizzling on the barbie, the feel of sand trickling between your toes (and the crunch of it in your sandwiches) and the blazing heat of the one solitary warm day we had are all distant memories. Our thoughts are turning from foreign holidays and ice bucket challenges to how we are going to occupy the slowly darkening evenings.

Cue the ambitious soap producer, determined to reel their temporarily errant, sun worshipping fans back in with an action packed autumn of drama. And Coronation Street and EastEnders are both really going for it this year.   Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Murder and vegetarian double shocker as Ken returns

“This place doesn’t change a bit,” cooed Ken Barlow affectionately, as he disembarked from a (non-Streetcars!) taxi, cloaked in an American style white blazer, and smiling contently.

How wrong could he have been? Quite apart from the fact that the Street physically has changed due to the recent studio move, there has been a lot that has happened in his absence that Ken did not know about. By the end of Monday night’s double, he had ambled miserably and exhausted to bed without supper or wife, having finally been put in the full, sordid picture.

But while Ken ended up being unhappy with his welcome home, it was a treat for viewers who have felt something missing in the absence of Ken, the undisputed King of Coronation Street.

The scenes between Ken and Deirdre were classic Corrie, and comfortably reminiscent of their fiery relationship of yesteryear. Ken’s fury at Deirdre’s level of secret keeping and Deirdre’s devastation as the pressure she’s been under finally hit her allowed William Roache and Anne Kirkbride to do what they’ve been wanting to do for over a year; give stellar performances together once more.

Of course, Ken and Deirdre ham it up; when have the Barlows not been a tongue in cheek married couple? But Ken and Deirdre are as endeared to the British public almost as much as fish and chips and it was surprisingly comforting to see them reunited on screen.  Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Overstepping the mark (and the balcony)

It’s been a distressing few weeks on Coronation Street lately. Between the hypocrite harlot that is Katy condemning Anna for a night  of infidelity (yes, REALLY)  the horror of whatever has happened to poor Gail’s hair recently (if only there were some hairdressers in the family), and Antony Cotton being handed a new contract (I kid, I kid…) there hasn’t been a lot to smile about recently. Tina

Of course we have the equally traumatic events of Tina falling from a high balcony, grazing her knee and then further antagonising the man that caused her to fall. The result? Let’s just say that Rob’s temper combined with a metal bar led to blood and fake tan stains all over the cobbles.

Peter has hit the bottle again and is generally just going around being a nuisance, stressing Carla to the point of her collapsing in agony and tragically losing her baby. Being a prime suspect for Tina’s murder hasn’t helped lift her spirits much either, and spending a lot of time with mardy Michelle only exacerbates the gloom. Still, protective brother Rob is on hand to stand by her and he will do anything, ANYTHING, to help. Well, except for coming forward and admitting that he killed Tina, of course.   Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Review of the Year

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS

Here we are at the end of another year. The mince pies have been reduced to crumbs, the Christmas tree has turned from a symbol of festivity to a reminder of work to be done and we’re still recovering from the revelation that it wasn’t a good idea to let Aunty Brenda at the bottle of port.

But no matter how eventful our years have been, we can take comfort in the fact that we haven’t endured it on Coronation Street, whose residents have had a typically traumatic twelve months. With gambling addictions, rogue charity workers, cross dressers, hapless serial killers, car crashes, UFOs, infernos, fake weddings, heads stuck in railings, sledgehammer attacks, stolen fish, brutal rapes, miscarriages, robberies, jailings, on set births,  jiltings, affairs, babies left at photoshoots, lesbian love triangles, homelessness, alcoholism, dodgy car-lifts, clingy policewomen, brain tumours, salon wars, pet deaths, drug dealers locked in fridges, rejected proposals, tram crash memorials, sackings, meltdowns and Dev, it’s been a horrific time on Coronation Street.  But, as always the disasters have been lovingly interspersed with kitchen sink drama, unbeatable comedy, warm character driven moments and a real community feel. Here is a tongue in cheek reflection of 2011 on the cobbles.

We left 2010 with a bang as a rather large, screeching tram landed on the Street and failed, once again, to kill Rita. After an extremely melodramatic week of event television, the start of 2011 was destined to be low key and more reflective of true life…so we started the year with an attempted murder on the Barlow doorstep. As Coronation Street continued it’s unfaltering bid to better Eastenders (forgetting that it always has been better), a whodunit mystery unfolded among the shrill cries of Auld Lang Syne. Nobody was very surprised when Tracy Barlow was left in a pool of blood a mere week after her return, considering she was outdoing even herself in the pantomime villainy.

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