Liverpool has the history and the excitement; it's got architectural delights on every street, and showbiz glamour through its decades of producing top entertainers like, erm, Jimmy Tarbuck and Cilla. Manchester, meanwhile, is bigger and has more money; its skyline can't compete with the Liver Building and two cathedrals, but it's got a tram system and a Harvey Nicks and the BBC. It's a bit more 21st Century than its near neighbour, a bit more forward thinking and less likely to coast on past glories (seriously Liverpool, the Beatles split up forty odd years ago; let it be).
Manchester also has Corrie, which gives it the perfect opportunity to get one over its Scouse rivals. It mainly does this by ensuring that anyone with a Liverpudlian accent is, at least, a bit dodgy, and at worse an out and out thug. Right now Pat Phelan is providing the show's dark underbelly, sexually harassing Anna and blackmailing Gary and Owen. He's bent as a nine bob note, with years of financial impropriety and questionable deals behind him. Owen should never have palled up with him, not least because their first meeting resulted in a motorbike being held hostage; that might have given a normal person a hint they were dealing with a crook. That and Phelan's got a Scouse accent so thick you could sit on it and row across the Mersey.
Go right back through Corrie's past, and you get a parade of Liverpudlians who are a little bit wey, a little bit woo. Think of Kenneth Cope as Jed Stone, a former borstal resident who had a string of nefarious schemes under his belt, convoluted plots that would net him a nice tidy profit without him having to do an honest day's work. He was finally locked up for robbing blankets, which is exactly the kind of petty, low-level dodginess Scousers on the Street seem to get up to.
That's not to say that Scouse characters are charmless; even Phelan has a bit of a twinkle about him. Michael Starke, who played Jerry Morton and who will forever be Sinbad from Brookside, managed to keep his terrible character and awful family afloat pretty much on charm alone. He seemed like he was going to turn the tide of naughty characters from Liverpool - he had his own business, his own home, a deeply unlikeable set of children covering a bizarre range of ages. But what's this, in a news report written about Starke's casting? Jerry, in his 40s, is described as a hard-working man who dotes on his family and has no qualms on dodging the taxman. Yep, even before he'd arrived, we were told he was crooked. Of course, we already knew that, because he was born in the L postcode. Also, he was Sinbad.
The one Scouse character who's managed to keep his nose clean is Lloyd or, as he's better known, Craig Charles. This is mainly because what Craig Charles is doing can't really be described as "acting"; he's basically just playing himself. I love Craig, but Lloyd isn't really a stretch for his talents. Seriously, I keep expecting Lloyd to start reminiscing about his performance poetry days, or to call Steve a smeghead. He's just a naturally charming, funny man, and his double act with Steve is one of the greatest in the show's history. It's a real-life double act too, which makes me wonder if some of the writers take a shortcut when they write the scripts, e.g.
INT. TAXI OFFICE
(Just film Craig Charles and Simon Gregson having a chat for five minutes. We'll stick the best bits in the show.)
Lloyd's been a bit of a love rat, but that's pretty much the worst thing you can say about him. He is a taxi driver though, a profession which is not exactly renowned for its high moral standards. I bet he's not above taking a roundabout route so he can add a few more quid to the meter.
Still, I suppose it's good that we finally have a Scouser who isn't a criminal, a tax dodger or a bankrupt on the show. And with Les Dennis soon to join, that'll mean there's two!
What's that? He's playing a burglar?
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