Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Coronation Street and "that London"

In honour of my imminent return home to London this week after an interesting four months in Scotland (long story) I thought I'd take a look at Coronation Street's relationship with that London over the past fifty-odd years.

Corrie's relationship with London makes me immediately think of a great episode of the Street from way back in 1978. Gail Potter and Suzie Birchall, sacked by Mike Baldwin and fed up with their dreary back street lives, made grand plans to do a bunk to the bright lights of old London town. Their neighbours down Coronation Street were shocked and stunned that the two girls would even consider it. The likes of Alf Roberts, Elsie Tanner and Bet Lynch talked in hushed tones about London being the ruination of many a young Weatherfield lass while Annie Walker preened and tutted, asking Kenneth Barlow to talk some sense into them.

What I love about this old episode is just what a time capsule it is. As a child of the 80s I struggled to understand how people in Manchester could possibly speak of London like it was a far off land full of tricksters and vagabonds. It was almost as if Suzie Birchall was like Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings! While appearing a tad daft now, it did portray a simpler life when many people were born, lived and died in the same spot and didn't desperately lust after things they knew deep down they'd never have. Anyway in the end Suzie, frustrated at Gail's indecision, did a moonlight flit on her own, only to return a short time later.

Of course London also gave us one of Corrie's most iconic characters: the much missed Michael Vernon Baldwin. I wonder what Mike would make of his old empire today? It must have been a risky move to introduce Johnny Briggs as the cockney wheeler dealer Baldwin back in 1976. He was certainly different! While it did nothing to bridge the north/south divide, he did end up stopping on for 30 years so he must have had a soft spot for those cobbles. 

Another strong memory for me was when London featured in a wonderful episode from 1995.  That superb Corrie character Alf Roberts was receiving a gong from Her Majesty and social climber Audrey couldn't wait to hit Buckingham Palace in her expensive new outfit. Unfortunately events conspired against poor old Aud as dastardly Don Brennan dumped her somewhere on the M1 so she missed her chance to meet the Queen. Fortunately Betty Williams was able to stand in with Alf. Audrey's face through the Palace railings was priceless!

We saw London featured most recently when Sean visited Violet and Dylan and caught up with old flame Marcus Dent. That was a weird episode for me. I don't know about you, but I sometimes struggle when Coronation Street comes from anywhere other than Weatherfield. It doesn't matter if it's London, Malta or Paris, it just doesn't always work when I see my favourite characters further afield. 

Anyway, even when our favourite soap comes from London or features characters from the south, it still has to go a long way before it's as depressing as that London soap...what's it called again?? 

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Anonymous said...

You know what I find interesting? When Corrie actors or actresses go abroad, they usually end up in Canada. I don't know why but it seems you never hear about characters going to America to live. I like it that Coronation Street has a soft spot for Canada because Canada has a soft spot for Corrie. :-)

Anonymous said...

Actually, people say they go to Florida? I don't know who, I can't recall, but yes. I agree - majority go to Canada. :)

Janice. said...

Todd went off to London so he would not be the 'only gay in the village'. As did Ted, Gail's dad. Toyah and Spider went there to begin their adult lives. I think it has do with London's mythic status in the same way as New York and Paris have.

Anonymous said...

makes me think of Betty, talking about Gordon living in London, or Wimbledon to be exact !!

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