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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: 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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The British Soap Awards: Coronation Street sweeps the boards

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS. THE BRITISH SOAP AWARDS AREN’T SHOWN UNTIL WEDNESDAY. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE RESULTS, DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE!

It’s the night that recognises those shows which have been a constant on our screens for up to half a century; a chance for the casts of the soaps to mingle and show that there really is no rivalry (unless their name is Danny Miller, of course!), an opportunity to relive all of those precious and heartwarming moments we’ve seen with our families such as swapping dead babies, seeing a tram slaughter half a community or a fire subtly wipe out two long running residents and also a time for the teenage fans of Hollyoaks and EastEnders to set up multiple accounts in order to ensure the fittest star of their chosen show gets the recognition their pecs deserve.

A total of 17 gongs were handed out to celebrate the over-the-top carnage tearing apart fictional communities and it was a successful night for both EastEnders and Coronation Street in particular. Hollyoaks also fared well thanks to the one man saviour that is Emmet J Scanlan and Emmerdale didn’t go away empty handed either after a mostly gripping year. Even the cast of Doctors, bless them, turned up for a night out and to fill the extra seats that the caretaker on work experience accidentally left out.

So where did the prizes go? The night arguably belonged to Coronation Street which took away an impressive 9 prizes for its dramatic fiftieth year. But, despite taking away over half of the available prizes, Coronation Street was beaten to the main gong by BBC flagship soap, EastEnders, which was crowned Best Soap.      Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Newcomer to be a lesbian?

*THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Speculation is rife that a new character heading to Coronation Street will be a lesbian. According to reports, the daughter of new character Stella (who is rumoured to be the long lost mother of Leanne) will arrive in coming weeks and quickly be revealed as a lesbian.

Eve is due to make her first appearance on the Street alongside Stella in the summer, after Stella rescues Leanne from an armed robbery at the bookies.

The news comes amid an ongoing row that Coronation Street is relying too much on gay characters. Some representatives of the media (no prizes for guessing which ones!) have suggested that there are far too many gay characters in the show for it to be realistic. They argue that with Sian, Sophie, Sean, Marcus, James and the recent one-off appearance from Todd and his boyfriend, that Coronation Street is presenting an unrealisitc portrayal of a British street.

Personally, I tune into Corrie to get away from real life and would probably choose to look outside of my window if I wanted to see a realistic street. it’s very easy to attack the gay ‘issue’ with the realism card… but then how many streets house numerous murders and have seen two tram crashes in forty years?

Coronation Street may be based on everyday life, but of course it will never be an accurate representation of a street in any way, not just the ratio of homosexuals to heterosexuals.

What are your thoughts on the argument? Does the sudden influx of gay characters not ring true for you? Are you excited for the arrival of Stella and Eve?

Leave any thoughts you have in the comments box.

Posted By Our Man In The North          (more Corrie posts here)

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Coronation Street live episode: One word – brilliant

I can’t remember any television programme in my life where I honestly had the urge to get on the phone and order the biggest bunch of flowers to be sent to the cast and crew.

I felt like that last night after watching the Coronation Street live episode. What an absolutely brilliant achievement. I didn’t spot one tiny mistake, not one fluffed line, missed cue, messed up camera angle or continuity slip.

Continuity, given that it had to fit into a week of episodes filmed probably months ago yet taking place in the same couple of hours, must have been a nightmare, but every detail was perfect, even down to David Platt’s rather odd hairstyle.

The acting was incredible, particularly as every storyline was really intense. We had Sally consoling Molly as she died beneath the rubble – but not before telling Sally that Kevin was the father of baby Jack. Sally Dynevor’s performance was heartbreaking.

So, too, was Jane Danson’s, as Leanne and Peter got married in the hospital just before Peter expired*. And Julia Haworth’s portrayal of Claire’s grief at the loss of Ashley was maybe the most convincing of all. Her shell-shocked face as she was led into the Rovers, knowing that in the morning she’d have to tell her two little boys that their dad was dead, well… come awards time next year, every award going should be heading Weatherfield way.

Meanwhile there was a birth, with Fiz producing Baby Stape three months prematurely. Baby Stape’s fate hangs in the balance, but Pa Stape is too busy worrying about the person he killed with a hammer – seems she’s not dead after all. Inconvenient. Becky resorted to looting in an effort to get the money together to pay off her sister and get Our Little Maxie returned to the Rovers. Gary Windass was mainly curled up on the floor at home reliving his Afghanistan nightmare. And Rita is still waiting to be found.

It wouldn’t be Corrie, and it wouldn’t have been bearable, if there wasn’t some humour to lighten proceedings. This was mainly supplied courtesy of Mad Mary and the always-reliable Graham, with his sad little realisation that he was now the sole keeper and bearer of the Elliott family sausage recipe.

It was all an absolutely spectacular achievement, and congratulations are due all round. Now where’s the number for Interflora?

Posted by PLA          (more Corrie posts here)

(*Just read on DS that Peter may not be dead. That would be a turn-up).

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Coronation Street: The homing child, and other stories

My word it was all kicking off in Coronation Street last night. Which other street in the space of an hour can boast a missing child, a funeral, an arrest for murder, a pregnancy announcement, a first date, a factory takeover and the return of a much-loved resident from a very long cruise?

Little Simon Barlow went AWOL on a trip to Blackpool with his Granddad George, after overhearing George’s intention not to let Simon’s alcoholic dad Peter anywhere near him ever again. Against the odds (the fact that he’s miserable, grumpy, chaotic and looks like he smells unpleasant), Simon is very fond of Peter, so off he trotted to lose himself among the fairground attractions of the pleasure capital of the north.

You can imagine all sorts of terrible fates awaiting a six year old under these circumstances, and that’s exactly what his various relatives were doing. The hunt for him was frantic and forlorn, and after searching all night, Peter, Leanne, Ken and Deirdre retreated home to Weatherfield to await news.

Then there was a knock on the door. Simon. He’d only managed to navigate his way from Blackpool to Manchester and then Weatherfield by himself! “How did you buy a ticket?” his elders wanted to know. Simon rolled his eyes. “Have you never heard of ticket machines?” Scriptwriters, darlings, have you never heard of plausibility? It was all a tiny bit lazy, but there was so much going on elsewhere that there wasn’t really time to ponder it. We were just all glad the wee mite was home safely.

Talking of wee mites, Molly is currently With Child (I don’t mean she’s started hanging out with Amy Barlow because no-one else will talk to her, I mean she’s pregnant). Kevin is presumed to be the father of the child, as he and Molly were at it like rabbits in motels and lay-bys just before Christmas, but I wouldn’t rule out Tyrone either. Karaoke can be a powerful aphrodisiac.

Anyway, Kevin’s response to the news was typically gracious. “Get rid!” he recommended, and said he’d pay for a private get-riddance, but if Molly decided to keep the baby he’d want nowt to do wi’ it. “You’d make a great father!” Molly protested, trying to block out of her mind the inconvenient truth that he already is one.

It was Joe’s funeral. Tina didn’t want Gail there, but she turned up anyway, and when Tina left the church to have a cry, Gail stepped up to deliver the eulogy that Tina had been going to do. This didn’t sit well with Tina, who called the police and told them Gail had asked her to lie about Joe.

Having just buried her husband, Gail was arrested for his murder. Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Where a girl spends her maternity leave says a lot about her

Samia Smith, who plays hair-botherer Maria Connor in Coronation Street, is off on maternity leave. From last night’s episodes it looks as though the excuse for her character to go missing during this time is that she will be in Ireland, staying with her in-laws the Connors.

It set me to thinking where the other Corrie characters whose portrayers have been pregnant recently have been fictionally sent.

Queen of the Night Carla Connor (Alison King) is a super-bitch worthy of old-school dramas like Dynasty and Dallas, so very fittingly she was supposed to be in Los Angeles for several months. I could picture her rubbing padded shoulders with her American counterpart Alexis Colby. How I would have loved to see those two swapping notes.

Leanne Battersby, on the other hand, wasn’t accorded quite so much glamour. When Jane Danson needed time off to have her baby, Leanne went to run a restaurant in Leeds.

But the bottom of the pile is poor Claire Peacock. While Julia Haworth was away, where was Claire? At her mother’s.

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