Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Spoilers for next week's Coronation Street, Oct 6 - 10

Without any piffle, here's the storyline for the week ahead on Coronation Street, all wrapped up nicely in 50 words or less.
Week of Monday 6 October to Friday 10 October

Tony and Liz argue about Jim, Gary snogs Alya, Deirdre throws a tantrum with a trifle, Steve wonders if he’s suffering from depression, Callum offers Kyie drugs.

The full weekly preview, with loads of pictures is right here on Corrie.net

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Telling it like it is

I think it's a brilliant move to give Steve McDonald a more serious, challenging storyline to play out. Simon Gregson has mainly been playing comedy of late and although he is a gifted comic actor I think tackling the issue of depression will really give him something to get his acting chops around.

Depression is frequently discussed on television these days and quite right too. I know Coronation Street will handle this topic sensitively and much research will be done by all concerned. I also think it's a very good idea to turn the spotlight on depression in men, particularly those of Steve's age. 

On the face of it Steve is very successful and you might wonder why he could ever be depressed. He is in a longterm relationship, has a daughter he loves dearly, friends who care about him and two successful businesses. In many ways, these facts make Steve the ideal candidate for this storyline.

Having read a little about this in the press, it would seem the story will focus on Steve's feelings that he has been a failure, particularly in relation to the Peter Barlow business and the lead up to Tina's death. While it will be interesting to explore this, I hope they will also tackle some issues much closer to home.

I've made it clear in the past that I'm not keen on Michelle. She's unsympathetic and sometimes down right unlikeable. Stuart Blackburn describes Steve and Michelle as a love story but I really don't buy into that idea. While support from Michelle and Liz will ultimately play a big part in helping Steve, I hope this storyline also includes Liz and Michelle taking a good look at the way they treat him. 

I've been very uncomfortable in the past with how Liz and Michelle in particular belittle and undermine Steve. The storyline which saw Steve return to education is the best example of this. Instead of supporting his efforts to return to further education (no mean feat as I know only too well), both partner and mother mocked him and showed little faith that he would go the distance. Sadly this story was really only a plot device to introduce Andrea as I'd really like to have seen more of Steve's journey through education. 

The depression storyline, if tackled appropriately, should affect those close to Steve as well as the man himself. If Michelle and Liz are not made to identify themselves as part of the problem, this Corrie viewer will not be best pleased. I look forward to seeing how this brave new story for Steve plays out over the coming months. 

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The return of the Square Dealers to Coronation Street

I loved hearing last night on Coronation Street the Square Dealers getting a mention.  The Square Dealers, eh? Now, there's a blast from the past. 

Along with a mention of David's epilepsy in the same episode, it was like harking back to long-forgotton scripts. Shame then that Corrie forgot where it was going with Tim's literacy storyline. If Tim can't read, how did he come to get in touch with daughter Faye over the internet? 

Anyway, I digress.  Back to the Square Dealers.

Kal's dad is now a member of the Square Dealers, it appears, and has gone off with them all to a tour of Scottish whisky distilleries.  

The Square Dealers, you might remember (as I don't, not fully) was Weatherfield's equivalent to the Freemasons.  I seem to recall that Fred Elliott was the Grand Master in the Square Dealers, as was Norris and Reg. It was kind of a businessman's club and women, as far as I recall, weren't allowed to join.

With the return of The Square Dealers, I wonder if we'll see WARTS next?

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ITV Job Vacancy: Script Editor at Coronation Street

Script Editor – Coronation Street

An opportunity to be part of the UK's number one soap.

As the success of Coronation Street continues to grow, we are looking for an experienced Script Editor to join our busy hard working team, ensuring that every single one of our episodes are top quality entertainment.

Your role will involve attending and contributing to Coronation Street’s story conferences. In script meetings, you will submit creative and structural editing notes to the Producer(s) advising of major continuity, technical and cast challenges. You will then pass edits notes to the writers in an open and creative manner. You will follow your scripts through all the stages of production from pre-production to editing dealing with various levels of personnel, therefore strong communication skills are a must.

You must demonstrate previous drama script editing experience. You should be focussed, be able to work under pressure and meet the deadlines of a rolling production schedule. You should be conscientious and have a creative but logical mind.

This role may facilitate long and unsocial working hours.

This is an excellent opportunity to prove yourself in the nation’s top soap!

Apply now! Closing date: Thursday 9th October. Full details at itvjobs.com
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Monday, 29 September 2014

Coronation Street Double Episode Review 29 September 2014

Having thought long and hard about the credibility of the 'Kylie takes Max's pills' story, I find it impossible to be convinced by it. Also,  David's reaction is odd. He virtually treats Kylie like a murdering criminal, rather than an over-stressed mother who feels that Max's behaviour is her and Max's dad's fault and needs something go calm her down. 'I feel I've got to protect him against his own mum.' Designed to cut deeply...

Kylie is in a dreadful mood, lashing out at all those who dare speak to her, especially Maria. Maybe Kylie is a little jealous of Maria, as Liam seems to be a well-balanced child. Maybe a scotch egg is the answer. It would help Dev's ordering excesses anyway. Kylie has a few drinks, even tells Eva to go away, though she apologises later. Poor Mary is very much the target of Kylie's tension. Mary is proud of her hair, refers to it a s'luxuriant' and notes that she has a duty to keep it looking its best. Kylie is downright cruel. She tells Mary that she is more Kim Jong Un than Kim Kardashian. That said, does anyone really want to resemble either of those individuals? Norris comes to Mary's defence, when Kylie starts to insult him. Norris hits where it hurts and comments on her as a mother - being unfit for the role and there's no wonder Max misbehaves. 'The truth hurts,' he yells after her.

No one has had a cold/tonsilitis of the severity of Sally's. Proper poorly she is. Tim though has more serious problems. A cold clears up but poor literacy needs attention as it can hold people back. (That is why Further Education Colleges are so important!) Maddie spots his difficulty and hands it to him straight. He denies it  but well, it's clearly true.

As Andrea says, we can't swim with dolphins everyday, but now Neil is leaving the country, at least she and  Lloyd will be free of him.

Yasmeen is a very forceful woman and almost bullying towards Roy in her demands to use the cafe as a library and literacy drop in. Roy gives her short shrift. 'I have neither the time nor the space to accommodate some sort of  low rate literacy salon.' At least Alya is around to distract her grandmother and curb her excesses, at least a little. Her plan is a new community centre. Might work - and anything that brings people together has to be good.

Julie tries to persuade Sean to join the gym and is evangelical about it. Sean's not keen though. He prefers nightclubs where he can engage in drinkersize, dancersize  and flirtersize.

Mary is not letting go of Dev without a fight. She is, she tells Julie, Dev's go to person, his emotional bouncer, his guardian angel. Dev praises the Taj Mahal, and the love from which it was built. Julie responds by claiming she is a spiritual person but Mary is having none of this. 'I'm a very spiritual person too,' chimes in Mary, 'but I tend to keep quiet about it' she says, clearly not noticing the irony. She says its the same with her charity work. Feeling that it's time to wrap the evening up, she chivvies Dev out of the pub and home. Dev comments that the eveing was good and that Julie is a nice girl. Mary tells him that Julie is hardly a girl, forty at least. The question is, will either Julie or Mary have a lifetime's access to scotch eggs?

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Coronation Street puts call out for more disabled actors

Coronation Street is leading the way across the diversity agenda, and continuing to show its commitment to developing diverse talent both on and off screen.

Last week ITV launched the Original Voices initiative in partnership with Creative Skillset, enabling us to connect with local BAME – Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic writing talent in the North West.

They are now continuing the investment and partnership with Creative Skillset, to attract and develop diverse talent by launching our onscreen disability initiative, Breaking Through Talent. The initiative is a one-day intensive casting workshop for actors with a disability.

The workshop will take place in MediaCity, Salford on Wednesday 19th November, the successful candidates will have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge to help support their career, be given a live audition and receive constructive feedback from the team.

Actress Cherylee Houston and Casting Directors at Coronation Street will be delivering the workshop.

Full details here.

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Character counts

The other day I tried to take up the challenge posed by this great blog and it proved something of a struggle! At first I thought it would be relatively easy to come up with a list of sixteen Coronation Street characters I couldn't do without. I only made it to fourteen, shock horror!

To begin with, the names came quite easily. Audrey Roberts, always my favourite even though she's woefully underused these days. Ken and Deirdre Barlow - Corrie legends and a terrific partnership spanning decades. Emily Bishop, although rarely seen these days, is still beautifully portrayed by Eileen Derbyshire after more than fifty years. Sally and Tim are a great new partnership and I hope they stay together for the duration, or as long as actor Joe Duttine wants to stay. Steve McDonald is already a Corrie legend to me, mainly down to Simon Gregson's wonderful performances. He's come such a long way over the past 25 years. I couldn't imagine Corrie without our Roy either, David Neilson often rises head and shoulders above both the material he is given and what is going on around him.

Then it got a little bit more difficult to come up with names. Carla Connor was there for certain. The modern day Elsie Tanner? I wouldn't dare suggest such a thing, but a great character in her own right who is yet to run out of steam despite being front and centre for years. Another couple I'm very fond of are Eva and Jason. Eva Price was the best thing by far to come out of that family and I'm glad she's stuck around. Her partnership with Jason has  a lot of promise too. As I've said before, Ryan Thomas has come on leaps and bounds over the last decade and is now a real asset. 

I've always been a fan of Mikey North as Gary Windass so out of that family he's the only one I'd keep. Another character I've warmed to is Julie Carp. Mainly playing for laughs, she doesn't get much of a look in as we've endlessly focussed on Tina/Peter/Carla/Rob/Michelle and that delightful merry-go-round of misery. 

Out of the more recent deluge of characters I could only really add in Steph. I think she lights up the screen every time she appears but I wish the powers that be would give her a proper storyline! She's crying out for one.

So that was my fourteen. And it involved quite a bit of head scratching let me tell you. What does that say about the rest of the cast? I dunno. Corrie must currently boast a cast of over sixty regular characters but I can't help feeling many of them are instantly forgettable, under-used, interchangeable with other programmes or have simply run out of steam.

Why did I not include characters like Rita, Gail, Liz, Norris or Leanne? Quite simply I don't think recent times have treated any of these characters particularly well. They are either stuck in a rut or have come off badly through association with daft plot lines, relationships with other characters or mind boggling character transformations. I do like Lloyd although for some reason the writers can never find a decent female character for him to play off. Tyrone and Fizz I really wanted to be together, but now they are it's all a bit bland and beige. The same goes for the majority of the Windass and Nazir clans. 

I keep coming back to the same point. Too many of the characters featured in the Corrie of 2014 just don't feel Corrie enough, if that makes sense. They could easily be in Emmerdale or EastEnders or Holby City. Coronation Street broke new ground in 1960, presenting a compact range of characters everyone knew but had never seen represented on television before. In an age when everything has seemingly been done before on the telly it feels like the powers that be are becoming even more desperate to push boundaries and find new angles. And at the same time, it often feels like we've seen all these new angles before. 

As a challenge to those at the top, how about producing several episodes that only feature a core cast of characters? I'm not saying they need to be two handers, but just less than normal. Simple, well written, character driven episodes without massive revelations, punch ups, police officers, explosions or weird sexy dance murderer scenes. How about half an hour of the likes of Audrey, Emily, Rita and Deirdre chewing the fat, reminiscing and talking about things that matter to women of their generations? Is that too much to ask?

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How should Deirdre be written out?

This morning we blogged that Anne Kirkbride, who plays Deirdre Barlow, is taking a three-month sabbatical from Coronation Street.

For me, this is sad, as we've only welcomed back Ken and now we'll be saying goodbye to Deirdre for a while and once again things at No. 1 were back to normal - well, as normal as we can get on the street!

It's fair to say we've seen a lot more of Deirdre this past year than we've had in a long time. Well in more scenes per episode anyway! She has had to carry the moral support role that Ken always held and over the past year we've seen a return to the classic Deirdre we knew back in the 1980s and early 1990s - strong, independent and determined. Let's hope we don't see her return to the wimpering character we've known in the past few years. 

When the announcement was made of her temporary departure, many commented that it wouldn't make much of a difference as she doesn't hold such a key role as she did. That's a fair argument, but then again Deirdre is synonymous with Corrie and without a doubt we would feel her loss. As the Barlows are still so central to the programme, losing Deirdre to the dynamic of the family would be noticeable. She has taken over the role of Blanche naturally as it's known that daughters do eventually morph into their mothers! 

As long as there are characters linked to the character who has left or died, that character will be missed. There is still a gap at the Barlows without Blanche and the Rovers doesn't feel the same without Betty, even though she only appeared fleetingly. I missed Ken when he was away and it's nearly two months now since we last saw Rita, Norris and Emily and I want to see them again in episodes.

Anyway, I've rambled! My original reason for doing this blog post was to ask how would you like Deirdre to be written out?

With such a large cast, maybe the producers won't bother with an exit storyline. As has been said, we've not seen Rita or Emily for two months and they've not had an exit. Maybe Anne Kirkbride will film a selection of scenes that will be played out during her absence, if that is possible of course. It has been said that she's leaving in November, which means Deirdre will be dishing out stuffed marrow over Christmas so her absence won't be seen until the new year. Whereas the producers struggled with a plausible reason for Ken to leave the street as he doesn't have any sick relatives to nurse, we have the perfect reason for Deirdre - her Auntie Beryl! Beryl is of course Blanche's sister and although not seen, she has been mentioned. Deirdre could nurse Auntie Beryl for a few months while Ken could always go and visit. And wouldn't it be great if Auntie Beryl couldn't cope alone and would have to move in with the Barlows? That would be classic Corrie! And would make sense as well!

Or have you got any other ideas?

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