Sunday, 15 December 2013

Does Corrie make the most of its senior cast members?


By gum but Coronation Street can be frustrating. It has all the elements of the best television programme on earth, yet recently it just keeps falling short. There are lots of big, explosive storylines and headline grabbing action, but I just don't feel the writers are making the most of the talent available.

This view has been reinforced only this very Sunday morning with the news that Philip Lowrie has been reportedly axed as Dennis Tanner. In my view one of the few really good things to happen under the reign of Phil Collinson was the decision to bring back Dennis. Philip Lowrie is such a good character and such an important link to former glories.

Apparently the Corrie writers can't think of anything else to do with him after being so underused for the past three years. I just can't fathom it.

There have been scant references to his glorious mother Elsie, no return for his sister Linda. Dennis has barely been seen on screen with characters like Deirdre, Audrey and Gail - characters who knew Elsie well back in the 70s. I'm not saying Corrie should live in the past, but I do think it is a fondness for what has gone before that keeps many of us loyal viewers watching. Instead we get a constant, tedious diet of Tina's trysts, Tracy's tantrums and Windass wingers.

The older Corrie cast are fast diminishing. It was inevitable really, but surely the sad losses in recent years should galvanise the writers to invest in the classic characters we are still lucky to have, while we have them? 

Rita still has plenty of screen time, but mainly as a foil to TIna's latest exploits. Involvement with Tina has turned Rita into something of a daft old dear. Would Rita really keep bailing Tina out and involving herself in all those dramas? Gail and Audrey are also still prominent but again only as a backdrop to the younger characters' infidelities and outlandish acts. Why can't Gail have a strong storyline of her own? Why can't Audrey? Let's see a female friend from either of their pasts come back and revitalise them.

We seldom see Emily these days and Norris also barely gets a look in. The biggest disappointment for me is the chronic way Deirdre has been underused of late. We've seen glimpses of the old sparkle whenever Anne Kirkbride has been given a chance, however I struggle to recall the last time she carried a major storyline of her own. 

So can it be true that storyline ideas for the older cast are drying up? 

Surely these longstanding characters should still be what drives the programme, even if they are all reaching a certain maturity. 



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17 comments:

Frosty the Snowman said...

I really enjoyed the scenes with Robin Nedwell as the enterpreneur mate of Dennis with Dennis and gang in the Bistrol even though Rita had a face to sour milk. Reminded Frosty of the Golden days of Corrie and a welcome respite from the tiresome Platt merry go round with Kylie shouting ad nausem plus the dreadful Michelle arm folding harridan, Todd who has had a total personality transplant etc etc. So its a YES for more senior scenes from me.

Llifon said...

Totally agree Graeme! They're not used to their full potential.

There were so much chances lost with Dennis, which was a shame.

I think it was in 2006 that the oldies were used greatly. Emily met Ernie's killer, Rita was attacked in the Kabin, Mike Baldwin's Alzheimer's and Audrey falling for Fred once again.

But I'm glad that they haven't forgotten about Dennis' musical acts past.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Corrie has its young fans, but surely most of the current fans are 30+. These ridiculous storyline with Tina don't attract younger viewers so Corrie should be concentrating on what interests the rest of us. Dennis could have had terrific storyline with one get-rich-quick scheme failing after the other. Norris could have had a love story with a new character and turned into quite a nice bloke. Deirdre only gets flashes of screen time. If they want to cull some characters, here's my list and they're all under 40: Tracy, Michelle, Katy, Chesney, Gary, Izzie, Faye (go on then, take their parents, too), Sophie ...

Flaming Nora said...

Very well said, Graeme!

John in Cincinnati said...

There is no end of stories they could come up with involving Dennis and the older characters..including ones that could bring a few people back for a week or two...What has Linda been up to since 1984?

This Platt story currently running has been going on FAR too long...

Anonymous said...

The current storyliners and writers are rank amateurs if this latest news is anything to go by.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone on this blog know the procedure for how ideas for Corrie storylines get presented and decided on? Does anyone know the current number of writers and their average age? When Mr. Blackburn took over he talked about keeping the old spirit of the show, with the little moments between characters that the show has always had. Judging from the comments on this blog, the episodes that are most appreciated are the ones with those lovely little "Corrie Moments". I ask my questions because it seems that few if any of the writers remember (or are allowed to use) the history of most of the older cast members' characters. I understand that the show's bosses want to keep attracting new viewers, and that means primarily young ones, but the sort of people that are drawn to this type of show and become regular, long-term viewers are those that are interested in people, which includes their history. Corrie doesn't get the car-chase addicts, or the sex & violence junkies, which is to say boys between the ages of 13 and 30. Young males make up a very small percentage of viewers, I suspect, and they always will, no matter how many tram crashes, arson fires or sexy young females get thrown at them.
Either the current writers don't know or don't know how to utilize the history of the senior cast members. Dennis was gone for years, but we have never learned where he was or what he was doing for much of that time. He also doesn't ask about what his old friends on the street were doing in all that time. Many older people like to reminisce, and if their life has been interesting, and they have a sense of humour, young people enjoy hearing about it. Oral traditions have functioned this way since people sat around fires in caves! If the writers were steeped in the history of the show and were encouraged to use that history in current storylines, the show would help newer viewers understand and become involved in current characters' stories more, and long-time, loyal viewers would relate to the show more, rather than being shown a constant parade of new, young "eye-candy" with no depth of experience behind them. The show has 53 years of history to draw from. That's one of its biggest claims to fame. Why are they wasting that? I realize that it's harder to write interestingly about people, their past, and their ongoing relationships, than it is to write "explosive" stories, and the time pressure of producing 2 and a half hours of programming a week is tremendous, but the present formula isn't working and needs to be re-evaluated.

Flo said...

I absolutely loved the scenes with Deidre after Ken's departure to Canada, and I was hoping for more--no such luck. They have turned the older characters in to nagging and annoying. It's a shame, they have so many good ones. Eileen gets some awesome zingers in every so often and then it's back to her hangdog behavior. I'm tired of the younger characters getting all of the screen time and the same types of stories being recycled over and over. As much as I love Michelle Keegan, I will be kind of glad for her character to be written out so that we get some new stories, but I'm sure they will probably turn Katy in to the latest tart on the street everyone wants. UGH!

Anonymous said...

They are writing for a younger viewing audience. More shake ups ahead I think. Either way, I have a bad feeling about what's ahead for this soap next year. They'll bring back Ken and rehash another plot starring Sophie and yet another girlfriend and him trying to win back Sally. Ugh

Anonymous said...

Well thought out, Anon. 14:06
Bev

70sStreetFan said...

The irony is that,despite the comments above,the Coronation Street writers are second to none(certainly in the soap world)when it comes to writing quirky character dialogue. I suspect,indeed am pretty certain having read Sean Egan's book about the show,that the pressures to write for the younger characters and to concentrate on melodrama come from above. It's a pity as it's real human drama and light comedy such as the Hayley-Roy saga that make more of an impact than all the fires and infidelity stories.
On the subject of the older characters,axing Dennis seems to come at a point when the programme needs some older characters. Ken remains absent,the glorious Sylvia has gone and the under appreciated Gloria is also going. I've never been an Enders fan,but feel that they treat their older characters better. June Brown,at 86,remains one of it's major stars- and both Barbara Windsor and Pam St.Clement were used well up until they left the programme. I wonder if Eileen Derbyshire and Anne Kirkbride have requested fewer appearances in recent years,as they have particularly underused on an ongoing basis for years.

Anonymous said...

Corrie has always had a pensioner tradition, but that seems to be going in favour of endless storylines for Becky and now Tina. Lets have a feisty pensioner in the tradition of Ena,P hyllis Pearce, Maud Grimes and Blanche.

Anonymous said...

Dennis has a Tanner family that could be introduced, his sister Linda, and her 2 sons Paul and Martin, who could have families of there own now, why cant this be used in a story?

RED said...

Yes have more "oldies".I began watching Corrie when my daughter was born in December 1960-that will give you an idea of how long I have been a fan.Yes bring a few "oldies"back Iloved Ena,Elsie,Blanche,Fred,Annie etc. Surely they aren't all dead. Even Deidre is an oldie,not keen on Ken though,find her a new bloke-I love Roy too.Have a few young members go onto further education.Nowdays all my knickers bras etc come from China not from "factry", The old world of shop,"bistro" pubs as job sources!Life has moved on.

Anonymous said...

Frosty, I think this has already been pointed out to you - it's Robin ASKWITH,not NEDWELL!!!!

It's so disrespectful, seeing as Robin Nedwell is deceased!

Defrost Indoors said...

Another thing I just remembered -- it came out that Dennis was related to Eileen and her clan through his mother (Elsie's maiden name was Grimshaw). Like so many other things, it was raised and then forgotten. We could have had Dennis acting as a sort of elder uncle to her brood and there would be lots of potential there. Corrie needs fewer explosions and more "kitchen sink" moments.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the blogger - more stories and power to the oldies, I say.

And why do the writers necessarily think this would be a turn off for younger viewers?

Ena, Hilda, Stan, Annie - all classic Corrie characters - were OLD.

Sad to say it but I suspect that those greats probably wouldn't get a look in in today's Weatherfield. :(

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