Thursday, 23 February 2017

In awe of Annie Walker

As Doris speeds (get it?!) over Britain, battering everything in her path, I thought I'd re-post this tribute I wrote around 2 years ago to another natural force on the cobbles, Mrs Annie Walker played of course by the wonderful Doris Speed. This blog post also appears in the blog's book which you can follow the link to buy one below.

Yesterday [New Year's Day 2015], as there was nothing that good on TV I decided to watch The Stars of Coronation Street - 50 Years, 50 Classic Characters DVD once again, this time with my mum and grandmother. We fast-forwarded some clips as the characters didn't interest us but thoroughly enjoyed watching the clips of Eddie Yeats, Hilda, Ena, Percy Sugden, Betty and Blanche.

But the one character that made my mum smile fondly every time she featured in a clip was the wonderful Annie Walker.

A precursor to the classic comedy character Hyacinth Bucket, Annie is one of the most brilliantly played characters in the history of Corrie. While it is the likes of Elsie, Hilda, Bet and Vera that we remember for catfights, Annie could also dish them out, but in a much subtler way which I love. Just look at the clip below of Annie's classic put-down of Hilda in 1977:

She was the classic snob and the clip shown of her and husband Jack on the DVD is a Corrie classic, and hasn't been shown that often which is a real shame. She reminds me of certain aunts in my family or maybe people who live in my village - those who think they're a cut above but really they're not. When Annie went a bit too far with her snobbishness, the likes of Jack, Lucille, Len and Bet were sure to take her down a peg or two. And I loved how she used to separate the customers into two categories - her friends like Len, Ken, Emily and Alf and then the peasants like the Ogdens, Eddie Yeats and the Duckworths. I also loved how she used posh language to insult Stan or Hilda where they thought she complimented them! 

It is a real shame that she departed the way she did. It is remarkable that Doris Speed was in her 80s and still made regular appearances in her final years. In the final clip on the DVD feature about Annie it shows her laying down the law to the Rovers staff and Doris was in her 80s then and what a strong performance it was. And I thought, they don't make them like that anymore!

She was a megalomaniac but she wouldn't have fit in anywhere else apart from Coronation Street in my opinion. She soldiered on as a widow to run the Rovers and I believe there has been no landlady as good as her since. Annie's character would never age because snobs still exist in today's society as shown in present Corrie with Sally Metcalfe. You could possibly not say the same about Ena, Hilda or Mavis even.

She was one of the big three originals and for me she was the best!

So let's raise a glass to Annie Walker of the Beaumonts of Clitheroe! 

by Llifon

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John said...

My all-time favourite character, bar none. Wonderfully played by Doris Speed, she also had her softer and kinder side such as when she supported Hilda when Stan went missing in 1976 (locked down the Rovers cellar)

Anonymous said...

I've recently been watching the old episodes on Auntie Corrie Youtube channel (started at 1976 and am now well into 84) and Annies departure off screen due to Doris' unplanned exit was very sad. If only she could have had one final scene but alas it wasn't to be. She was a true classic.- Micky

Flaming Nora said...

Wonderful stuff and happy 3rd blogging anniversary!! Hasn't time flown?!

Anonymous said...

She was great - the best ever landlady of t'Rovers.

She was playing the Iron Lady long before Maggie Thatcher came along.

She still features as part of the blackpool illuminations each year.

AmandaB said...

Watching as a child I was always petrified of her.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Annie was my father's favourite female character. I remember him roaring with laughter at her pride in Billy's career as she grandly asserted: 'The carriage trade is entirely different.'

Antiphon said...

I think that Annie tended to become more snobbish and authoritarian in the 1970s partly because she often had to prove to the brewery that she was able to run the Rovers Return on her own without a husband and partly because she had been Mayoress of Weatherfield when Alf Roberts was Mayor in 1973. I sometimes wonder how her character would have developed if Arthur Leslie had lived longer and continued in his role as her husband Jack throughout the 1970s. I suspect she might have been a little less strict as Jack might have been able to calm her down a bit when she went over the top as he often had to do in the 1960s. In retrospect Arthur's sudden death in 1970 was all the more sad as he and Doris Speed made a good double act as Jack and Annie Walker as their differing personalties complimented each other and his passing deprived the show of many good potential storylines, in much the same way as the unjustified axing of Lynne Carol in 1964 left the remaining duo of Eva Sharples and Minnie Caldwell that much sadder and with less potential for humour. Doris Speed was excellent as Annie Walker between 1970 and her final appearance in 1983 but I feel a lot of Annie's aloofness and forceful personality masked her sadness at the loss of her devoted husband Jack. I asking wonder how Jack would have got on with Bet Lynch and Fred Gee.

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