One of the main themes of Coronation Street has always been strong women. Over the past 55 years we've seen countless examples, from Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner to Bet Lynch, Ivy Tilsley and our RIta.
We saw strong women 2015 style the other night as the Devster prepared to set off for India. For some reason Dev now has a coterie of women tending to every area of his life.
Fair enough if you are willing to suspend belief in the same way that belief has been suspended to allow the Nazirs to move into that tiny house, Gail to marry for the sixth time to a man who attempted to rob her or that anyone would place an order with Underworld.
So as we waved Dev off on Friday night, we had girlfriend Julie, shop worker Sophie and nanny Mary in attendance. I was heartily sick of all the above by the time we got to the closing credits. I was almost pleading at the telly for Dev not to get on that imaginary plane. Yes, it was so bad I actually wanted Dev to stay.
Don't get me wrong, I love Julie and I'm gutted Katy Cavanagh has decided to move on at the end of her contract. Julie has been a ray of sunshine with her interesting take on fashion and her quirky, well meaning ways. She's a character full of promise, promise which has unfortunately never been exploited to its full potential. Anyway, for some reason on Friday the writers decided to take Julie's character and completely subvert it into a shrieking, domineering, unreasonable loon. I worry this may be the "Mary effect". Any character which comes into close contact with Mary Taylor seems to go rogue on us. Norris Cole anyone?
Mary is a problem. Her motorhome is a huge plastic carbuncle on the face of Weatherfield. She has no proper place in the community and yet pops up without purpose in the Kabin, in Roy's Rolls and in Dev's home. Underneath the cheery randomness of her bizarre life experiences there lies a character who regularly teeters too close to the edge and it seems to be becoming an increasingly uncomfortable experience. Patti Clare is capable of great moments of gentle pathos, she has moved me to tears in the past. We need more of this to keep Mary the right side of the wacky abyss. And when did Mary become a professional nanny?
Finally we have Sawphie Webster. Sophie was the cheeky bright spark of the Webster household, back in the days when they lived in their proper house with the Ogden's serving hatch and Sally, without a conservatory, focussed her main attentions on getting the dreadful Rosie into Oakhill by way of working after hours for that sleazy car salesman from As Time Goes By. Sophie was the antidote to all that, speaking on behalf of the audience, being down to earth and mainly ignored by her stupid parents.
Unfortunately the curse of the cute, funny child character has befallen Sophie. She is now nothing more than rude, gobby and insolent. She has all the charm of a packet of out of date product placement in the Corner Shop. She is one of the reasons why the Corner Shop is no longer the great meeting place it once was. You wouldn't face the wrath of that cheeky piece for a pint of milk and a bottle of bleach. Come back Florrie Lindley. I don't know what they've done to the character to make the fact that she's a lesbian her most interesting feature. Her religion comes and goes as frequently as her unsuitable girlfriends.
I was left feeling rather uncomfortable and more than a little irritated by these scenes last week. I don't know what they were aiming for but it fell flat in both the comedy and the drama stakes for me. I just wanted it to be over with. And I hate feeling that way about Corrie. It's a shame Julie is leaving as I think her relationship with Dev could have been the making of both characters and could have successfully dislodged both Mary from number 7 and Sawphie from behind the shop counter. Alas, it's not meant to be.
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