Friday, 25 July 2014

Preview of tonight's double Coronation Street - Fri 25 July

THE WINDASSES FACES UTTER RUIN. As Owen faces bankruptcy Tim and Sally offer to have
Faye stay with them until Anna and Owen are out of the financial mire but Anna’s offended
and tells them where they can stick their charity. However later a desperate Anna buries her
pride and calls in the local food bank.
LEANNE PLAYS NICK AT HIS OWN GAME. Yasmeen quizzes Leanne about her divorce and warns Kal that if he ever intends to marry Leanne he’d best draw up a pre-nup. Kal’s mortified whilst Leanne’s offended. Yasmeen then approaches Nick and tries to persuade him to take Leanne back. How will Nick react? Will Yasmeen succeed in splitting Leanne and Kal?
ANDREA CAN’T GET THROUGH TO NEIL. Neil follows Andrea into the Kabin and begs her to come home. But Andrea tells him that even though Lloyd might not want her, their marriage is over. Andrea then calls in the cab office and locking the door, perches on Lloyd’s desk and insists they talk things through. Will Lloyd agree?
ELSEWHERE As Rita and Dennis grow closer Norris is quietly fuming and moans to Mary how Dennis is playing Rita like a fiddle only she can’t see it.

ANNA REACHES OUT TO OWEN AT HIS LOWEST EBB. Anna, Gary and Katy rally round Owen,
assuring him it’s not his fault he’s been declared bankrupt and they’re all in it together. Anna
promises him they can put all their mistakes behind them and move on. Full of emotion will
the couple be reunited?
NICK AND LEANNE TRADE PUNCHES. Leanne apologises to Kal for blurting out that she loves him. But was it what Kal wanted to hear? Meanwhile Nick’s incensed having been told by his solicitor that mediation is the way forward as Leanne is entitled to a substantial pay-out. Can the warring pair sort out their finances amicably?
NORRIS PLAYS RIGHT INTO DENNIS’ HANDS. Norris confronts Dennis and accuses him of stealing £20 from the till. It’s clear Rita too thinks he’s to blame so how will she react when Mary finds the missing £20 note on the floor?
ELSEWHERE Andrea begs Lloyd to forgive her and promises him that her marriage is over but can a hurt Lloyd move on or is it time for Andrea to move out?

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Should Liz and Lloyd get back together - Yay or Nay?

Lloyd's not had much luck with women and it appears as if his fling with Andrea is over, for now.  I'm loving with way Liz comforted Lloyd this week on Coronation Street.

We've already raised the idea that Liz and Tony might not have much mileage left in them if Tony does what we think he might do with Tracy.

So is it time for Liz and Lloyd to get back together?

I say Yay!  What do you say?

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Sunita Alahan and Ashley Peacock back on the cobbles

Actors Shobna Gulati and Steven Arnold, who played Coronation Street's Sunita Alahan and Ashley Peacock, were back on the Coronation Street set - as part of a bingo world record attempt.

Both Steven and Sunita joined a host of former Coronation Street stars and celebrities taking part in Gala Bingo’s world record attempt for a game of bingo with the largest set of bingo balls.

The event also meant a Corrie return for Maureen Webster, aka actress Sherrie Hewson, who left Weatherfield for a new life in Germany with Bill Webster in 2006, as well as Adam Rickitt who used to play Nick Tilsley.

The bingo brand used the launch of its newest game, Corrie Bouncy Balls, as an opportunity to help raise money and awareness for the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign (MCAC).

The Manchester Evening News has a full photo gallery here.

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Interview with Jennie McAlpine (Corrie’s Fiz)

Recently I visited the restaurant co-owned by Jennie McAlpine (Fiz in Corrie). After a top-notch breakfast (see my review of Annies here), I chatted to Jennie about her day job and the many other things – in addition to the restaurant – that take up her time.

Fiz has been through a lot in the 13 years she has lived in Weatherfield but Jennie finds it difficult to choose a favourite storyline. She did, however, particularly enjoy being part of the live episode in 2010 to celebrate Corrie’s 50th anniversary.

She is also immensely proud to have been involved with the recent Roy and Hayley storyline. “I was really chuffed, says Jennie, “that (the writers) acknowledged that Fiz was special to them and they were special to Fiz”. Fiz Brown arrived in Weatherfield a troubled teenager who was, of course, briefly fostered by the Croppers.

Fiz then became, as Jennie puts it, “one of Mike Baldwin’s knicker-stitchers”. Her early scenes with Baldwin – “one of the icons” – must have been intimidating for a young actress new to The Street.

However, she loved working with Johnny Briggs and reminisces fondly about the storyline in which Fiz threw whisky in Baldwin’s face before staging a topless rooftop protest after the erstwhile cockney wide boy had nicked her designs. Fiz removed her self-sewn basque and threw it from the roof. Whatever happened to the undergarment in question? “It’s in Gail’s back garden”, jokes Jennie.

Jennie has been with her partner, Chris Farr, for nine years now and they owe it all to Coronation Street. It was their mutual friend – Antony Cotton – who introduced them. Jennie is friends with many cast members but is particularly close to those she works with most – “Chesney, Tyrone, all my factory girls and honorary factory girl, Sean”. “You meet such great mates”, she says.

I imagine it’s hard, then, when a close friend leaves. Julie Hesmondhalgh is an obvious example. But Julie is “very much alive”, says Jennie, having recently appeared at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in “Black Roses”, the play about the murder of Sophie Lancaster. Being directly next to Annies, Jennie was able to see it and catch up with Julie. She also met up recently with Suranne Jones (‘Karen McDonald’) and remains “great mates” with Georgia Taylor (‘Toyah Battersby’).

You would think the filming schedule for Corrie combined with the demands of co-owning a successful business would leave little room for anything else. However, Jennie is involved with lots of different projects. She DJ’d recently at Manchester club night Bop Local and I’m curious to know what to expect when DJ Fiz is on the decks. “Cheese!” exclaims Chris, which Jennie concedes to be largely the case before qualifying this as “anything that makes you want to dance”. This includes Kylie mixed in with great Manchester bands such as The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.

And when she’s not spinning records at banging club nights, she can sometimes be heard on the radio – when she can “fit it in around Corrie”. The other week she had a guest slot presenting on local station Key 103 and she has previously appeared on BBC Manchester with her friend, the comedian Justin Moorhouse, who will soon be turning up in Weatherfield as the Landlord of the Flying Horse. Jennie is looking forward to his appearance. She thinks he could be “a great corrie character” and would “love it” if he became a regular fixture.

Having recently watched a repeat of Jennie and Justin’s appearance on Pointless Celebrities, I ask Jennie about her penchant for quiz shows. Before she was a contestant, her joint favourites were Pointless and The Chase. However, she now prefers the latter “because we did well on The Chase whereas, on Pointless, we didn’t do so well”. The Chase is presented by Bradley Walsh, who played Corrie’s Danny Baldwin; and currently stars in “Law and Order” with Jennie’s mate Georgia Taylor. Small world!

Besides the fact that she is a fan of TV game shows, there is a very good reason for Jennie’s appearances on them. It is not that she is “obsessed with going on quiz shows and being on telly” but because they provide her with an opportunity to raise money for charity, particularly Mood Swings, the mental health charity chaired by her Dad, Tom McAlpine OBE.

The charity, Jennie explains, has “always been a big part of my life” and she has been helping her Dad with it since before she joined Corrie. Mood Swings “is a charity that supports people who are going through life’s ups and downs”. Based in Manchester but with a national, sometimes international, reach; Mood Swings aims to provide people who are undergoing a period of emotional distress with the support they need to recover and “lead a life that is extremely fulfilling”.

Thankfully, Mood Swings is largely self-funded and so has been relatively unaffected by swingeing cuts to mental health services. It relies heavily on volunteers and in addition to Jennie’s fundraising endeavours, they organise events and have individuals raising money for them constantly. Jennie is particularly touched by the efforts of one 14-year-old girl, Erin, who she met at Annies. Erin nominated Mood Swings as the charity to benefit from her school’s annual sponsored walk. The school went on to raise a whopping £30,000 for the charity. Jennie attended the awards ceremony at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and describes Erin’s gesture as “really special”.

Mood Swings has not been totally unscathed by Government cuts though. As Jennie points out, “people losing their jobs… their houses… their family” means that “the need for mood swings just goes up and up and up”. Consequently, the necessity of raising money is endless because “the more we get the more people we can help”.

One quiz show that Jennie has not yet appeared on, but would certainly consider, is Ejector Seat. Presented by Andi Peters, contestants are moved backwards if they get a question wrong and then have to answer questions while moving. If they continue to answer incorrectly, they eventually get ejected. As Jennie explains, “there’s a big puff of smoke and then they go backwards and they’re out of the game”. It sounds brutal but Chris is waiting for them to do a celebrity version. And if Jennie does appear, then you heard it here first!

There are other causes that Jennie feels passionately about. For example, she recently used Twitter to highlight a report by Barnardo’s that calls for an extension to the help received by young people who are leaving care. “Imagine if you’ve been in care since you were a baby and you’ve been really looked after and then one day, all that help just gets totally cut off”, says Jennie – “you can understand why people go and end up in trouble”.

There are clear parallels to Fiz’s story and Jennie initially drew inspiration for playing Fiz from her Dad’s career in social work. “I’ve always been around tricky kids”, she says. “I absolutely love naughty children… I can’t help it”.

Currently expecting their first child, Jennie and Chris will soon have a little tinker of their own to think about. I am hopeful of an exclusive for the Coronation Street Blog when I ask if they know the gender. But alas, they are waiting till the day to find out.

If it is a girl, she will not be named Annie, despite the playful point made by Chris that “it would be good advertising”. I can also report that Chesney, Schmeichel, Kirk and Tyrone are not on the list either. Nor is Fiona. Jennie wants to “try and steer clear” of Corrie-themed baby names but accepts that “whatever we come up with, they’ll have been in Corrie at some point”.

Jennie has the ‘accolade’ of being the first actress to act out giving birth live on TV. “I might be the first actress to give birth live in real life”, she says – “that would be a laugh, wouldn’t it?” Well, it’d be a very different kind of celebrity ejection, that’s for sure, and would deserve a considerable appearance fee for charity!

If things are busy for Jennie McAlpine now, they’re about to get a lot busier. Some would be daunted by the demands of balancing an acting career with motherhood while running a restaurant, supporting various charities and pursuing other interests. But not Jennie. She is thankful for the “brilliant support” around her and feels she is “in a really lucky position”. She is taking it all in her stride and I’m sure that Jennie and Chris will be brilliant parents.

Jennie will be going on maternity leave from Coronation Street in October and Fiz will be kept busy until then. Jennie is excited about working with Wendi Peters again when Cilla returns. “I don’t quite know what they’ve got planned”, she says, “but I know it’s sort of to do with me going off”. One thing she is fairly confident of is that Cilla will “cause a bit of chaos” - “I don’t think she’s going to come back a reformed character!”

We also know that Tyrone is going to have an accident and a feud will erupt between the Dobbs-Brown clan and the Grimshaws. Filming has already started and Jennie promises “it is going to be dramatic”. According to Jennie, “Alan Halsall is back in make up again having bruises and various things put on him”. There will be a lot of characters involved and “a few of them know things that the other few don’t”. She can’t give anything away but it’s “going to explode”.

Jennie loved working with Graeme Hawley (John Stape) but also loves working with Alan Halsall (Tyrone). Apparently, she’s not allowed to mention Graeme’s name in front of Alan because he jokingly tells her she “should move on now”. With Fiz and Tyrone reunited, things have come full circle for Fiz. Jennie jokes that Fiz “had to go and try some other people” but when she found out John Stape was a murderer thought, “maybe I’d be best with the one I started with”.

In terms of future ambitions outside of Corrie, Jennie talks of one day returning to her stand-up roots (she performed comedy shows at the age of thirteen) by developing a show for the Edinburgh Festival; perhaps “with a baby on my back!” Although she would “like to do a bit of theatre at some point” she is totally committed to, and focused on, Coronation Street.

As Jennie says, “you can fulfil your ambitions because every week we get brilliant scripts and it’s all different. I play a character that is lucky enough, or unlucky enough sometimes, to have so many different stories… so I love it”. “I don’t want to go anywhere yet”, says Jennie. And nor do we want her to.

Jennie McAlpine clearly loves working at Corrie. While being enjoyable and rewarding in itself, it also provides her with a platform to do the other things that she is passionate about. Jennie is great company and an inspirational and talented figure who will hopefully be treading the cobbles for many years to come.

Whatever the writing team have in store for Fiz, I hope that she’ll always have Tyrone by her side and that the two of them will continue to rub along together like the twenty-first century Jack and Vera they are destined to become.

By Martin Leay
Twitter: @mpleay

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: The Girl Who Just Appeared by Jonathan Harvey

Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey's first book, All She Wants, was really funny with a sharp, bitchy wit. His second book, The Confusion of Karen Carpenter, had lots of comedy but it was tinted with tragedy, too, but was also a good story. His new book, The Girl Who Just Appeared, is different again. but you couldn't call it a funny book. There is humour, but it's poignant and a bit sad in places and it's also a journey of discovery with a happy ending. All three books are sort of different, yet each tells a story of people finding out who they really are. It shows how talented Harvey is as a writer, not that I needed telling, I've long enjoyed his writing on Coronation Street.

This book begins as Holly Smith has just buried her mother and, now both of her parents are gone, she has decided to try to find out about her birth mother. She was told that she was adopted when she was a child and even then, she knew that must be the reason why she never connected with her family, though she loved them. All she knows is that she was born in Liverpool and adopted at a few months of age. She has an address of a flat where her mother lived but that's all she knows. When the flat comes up for rent, Holly decides to move to Liverpool to see what she can find out about her past. Yep, it's more coincidental than a coincidental thing but you need some sort of catalyst, don't you?

In the flat, Holly discovers a diary and some letters that belonged to a teenage boy called Darren, dated between 1981 and 1982. Darren's mother was a prostitute and he and his younger brother have had a tough life. We hear some of Darren's story, told through his diary, and it's tough to read sometimes as his life often seems hopeless. He never did well in school and his spelling and writing makes it evident why. As she reads the diary, Holly is drawn in to Darren's story and is sure he has a connection to her past, along with her landlords, Rose and Alan. Rose may know more than she's saying as well but Holly won't find out if she doesn't push a little.

It's difficult to say too much without giving away the story. I kind of guessed one of the twists but not quite in the way it ended up. This is a story about longing, needing to fit in and how Holly and Darren discover ways that they can do just that in order to be happy. I really liked the book as much as the first two. That's three for three so far. I definitely look forward to future books by Jonathan Harvey.

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Video: Behind the scenes at Tour de ITV cycle ride

Here's a lovely behind the scenes video of the recent celebrity cycle ride from Corrie to Emmerdale.

The 60 mile ride, which took place earlier this month, brought together local sports clubs, schools and volunteers to highlight the importance of volunteering in sport.

Volunteers from London 2102 legacy charity Join In, supported a peloton of celebrities as they cycled the Tour de ITV from The Rovers Return on Coronation Street, over the Pennines, and up to the Woolpack in Emmerdale.

The event was part of the ITV Local Heroes campaign, which aims to encourage people to  volunteer with sports clubs and groups in their local areas.

For further information and to find your neareat sport volunteering opportunity visit

Watch the video here:

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Annie and Betty's Coronation Street Memories - now on itvplayer

With thanks to Corriepedia for letting us know about this, and with thanks to ITV for making it available on itvplayer.  I wonder if there are more old ones to come on itvplayer?  Anyone have any idea why this old Corrie special has made its way to itvplayer?

Annie and Betty's Coronation Street Memories is now available to watch on itvplayer. Annie Walker and Betty Turpin reminisce about Christmases past on the street in this special episode. The Street is putting on the panto Cinderella for the second time and they look back to the first time and remember the frantic preparations.

Read the full description on Corriepedia and watch it on itvplayer here.

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Preview of tonight's Coronation Street - Weds 23 July

ANDREA’S HUSBAND GETS TO GRIPS WITH STEVE. Neil pushes his way into the bar and to
Andrea’s horror, confronts Steve, accusing him of having an affair with Andrea. Lloyd steps
forward and explains to Neil that he’s the ‘other man’, not Steve, and that Andrea has been
lying to both of them and he never wants to see her again. How will Neil respond to his
THE WINDASSES ARE LEFT HUMILIATED. Owen warns Gary that they might get a visit from
some bailiffs and they need to be vigilant. But when the bailiffs call at No.6, Faye unwittingly
lets them in. As the bailiffs help themselves to Owen and Anna’s belongings, the family
watch in horror. Is there anything Owen can do to stop them?
ROY AND YASMEEN POOL THEIR RESOURCES. Roy and Yasmeen plan a sit-in at the library.
ELSEWHERE As Michael sets about building a rockery for Gail he tells her he’s got a second
job, helping a mate out who works in the catering trade. Gail’s delighted for him and as they
join Audrey for birthday drinks in the bistro, she makes a point of hugging Michael in front of
her disapproving family

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