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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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UK Soaps: A year where being a beautiful young woman meant death

EmmerdaleAnyone who is anyone in the UK British soap magazine world knows that today, the results of the Inside Soap Awards 2014 are revealed, about half a year since they were launched. I call them the Inside Soap Awards 2014, but I prefer to know them as ‘The ‘Which Soap has the most dedicated multi-voting fans awards 2014.’

Either way, it’s got me thinking (dangerous stuff, I know) about the last year in the world of soap. Here, I reflect on a year of underwater escapades, murders of beautiful young women, collapsing attic floors, rooftop death dramas, dramatic house fires and Steve McDonald.

I know, given the fact that I write here about all soaps, that I should display some degree of impartiality, but I’ll openly declare that I have mostly voted Emmerdale this year. So, that’s as good a place to start as any. It’s been a blockbuster year in Britain’s most eventful village and not a leek show in sight. Instead of village fetes and sheep shearing, we’ve seen armed sieges, rooftop plunges and Charity Macey getting slapped about the chops with her husband’s meat tenderiser.   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: Hayley’s farewell

roy hayley coronation street“This is why no one watches Coronation Street,” PLA Jr will often (inaccurately) say. By “this,” she means that a lot of the characters are older people, some of them funny, frumpy, dowdy. The drama usually revolves around small-scale, human concerns.

There’s nobody frumpier and more dowdy than Roy and Hayley. Roy is eccentric, introverted and takes life almost painfully literally. Hayley struggled through a gender reassignment to become an odd little woman with a fine range of cardigans, a sly sense of humour and a heart as big as an ocean. They found each other, and the unit of “Roy and Hayley” turned into one of the most solid and realistic partnerships on TV.

And last night, the partnership ended when Hayley deliberately overdosed on her pain medication and slipped off the cast list in the hideously decorated bedroom that she’d happily shared with Roy all of those years. It was perfectly acted, obviously – Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson are both wonderful actors and they made sure that all of the complex, raw emotions of the situation were right there on their faces and in every tender touch. It was also beautifully written, with Hayley saying her goodbyes to the people close to her (with them unaware that it really was for the last time), ironing Roy’s best shirt so he’d look smart for her funeral. The final scene between Roy and Hayley was almost too painful to watch.

It was real and human, and this, in a nutshell, is why people watch Coronation Street.

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Coronation Street: Becky leaves in style

The traditional ways to leave Weatherfield (apart from being murdered by Tony Gordon or John Stape) are by taxi or Weatherfield Hopper, that curious little bus that only appears when someone needs it and has a driver who is happy to wait as long as you want while you have an argument or tearful goodbye with a loved one.

I doubt whether anyone ever in the history of Coronation Street has uttered their final lines on the show while drinking champagne in the first class section of a flight to Barbados. But that’s exactly the way Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) left the show last night, and it was brilliant.

Since her early appearances as a chain smoking, back stabbing petty criminal in 2006, Becky has morphed into one of the most loved characters in the show. I’ve not always been a fan of her tendency to go over the top (eg the drunken hysteria of her wedding to “Stevie” and the way she used to convey passion for the poor lad by applying herself to the front of him like the alien creature sticking itself to John Hurt’s face in Alien), but she’s always been quirky, vulnerable, feisty, loveable and infuriating in equal measure. Her relationship with the Croppers, no strangers to quirkiness themselves, has formed one of the most touching and convincing “families” ever seen on a soap, and I had a huge lump in my throat when she kissed them goodbye in last night’s episode.  Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Tony Gordon – one hell of a villain

On Corrie, we’ve left non-swimmer Roy Cropper floundering in the canal while Tony Gordon watches him drown. We’ll have to wait till Thursday to find out what happens (I’m avoiding spoilers because I don’t want to know yet, but I’m betting Roy will survive).

Tony Gordon is an absolutely classic villain, and it’s because the scriptwriters and actor Gray O’Brien have carefully given him that Jekyll and Hyde duality that the best villains have. Tony’s personality is based on getting what he wants, and it’s there that his ruthless streak comes in. What makes him successful in business becomes dangerous when it spills into his personal life, when an almost sociopathic streak kicks in so he doesn’t care about the feelings of others.

I say “almost” sociopathic, because Tony clearly does care a lot about other people, but only the ones he cares about, if that makes sense. You’re either part of Tony’s world (Maria, baby Liam), in which you will experience him as the most loving and considerate person in the world, or you’re outside, in which case, watch out.

I think if he hadn’t met Carla his “evil” side might never have surfaced. Carla is a person who brings out the passion in people, and Tony fell for her in a way he’d probably never allowed himself to do before. When he realised she was actually in love with Liam and not him, Tony reacted like he would with a business rival – destroy the opposition and things will be fine again. That’s been his pattern ever since, whether with Jed Stone or now with the Croppers.

What’s most powerful is that Tony’s self-interest is all about the people he loves. He isn’t trying to silence the Croppers to avoid going to prison, he’s doing it to protect the life he has with Maria and the baby. You can always see in his face the anguish that he’s found himself on this murderous road when really all he wanted was a normal, peaceful life, and that’s what makes him so compelling to watch.

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