Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Burton/Taylor Effect

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor met on the set of Cleopatra in 1962; they were both married to other people.  Soon they were embroiled in a passionate, insane affair that was condemned by the Pope.  They married in 1964 and spent the next nine years screaming at one another, having noisy sex, and lazing around on yachts in glitzy Eurotrash resorts.  She wore turbans and kaftans to cover her decadent curves; he took parts in terrible films so that he could afford to buy her diamonds.  They divorced in 1973, with Burton sending her a truly heartbreaking goodbye.

Sixteen months later they were married again, unable to stay apart; nine months after that they divorced again, unable to stay together.  They were bawling, passionate balls of lust, and even after they separated - even after they married other people, again and again - they always suspected that they'd return to one another.  Burton was rumoured to have written a final letter to Liz before he died; she, in turn, was buried with his letters.

This doesn't seem to have much to do with Coronation Street, I admit - apart from, perhaps, my never-ending quest to see Audrey Roberts in a silk turban.  It's more to do with the power of some relationships that mean the end is never the end.  Characters chop and change their sexual partners with barely a ripple from those around them; it's the way of all soaps.  People are able to swap to a new wife or husband without any effort at all and the Street and its community act as if things have always bee that way.  It's hard, now, to remember that Eva used to go out with Nick, or that Tyrone was engaged to Maria, or that Rita once went to bed with Ken.  It's all stuff that happened in the past.

Sometimes, though, a couple split up and you're just marking time until they get back together.  There's a connection there that means we're eagerly waiting for them to reunite.  The greatest example is, of course, Ken and Deirdre.  After Barlow was evicted from number one for his affair with Wendy Crozier, that should have been it for the couple.  Yet everyone knew, somehow, that Ken and Deirdre belonged together.  Even when she was with Samir, or he was with Denise, we were waiting.  When they were both single at the same time, the audience quietly willed them back together.  When they finally remarried, it completed their characters once again.  Ken and Deirdre.  They came as a pair.

It's not just down to both halves of the couple remaining on the Street.  After Gail and Martin split up, there was never a clamouring for them to reunite; that was it and we all knew it.  It's about a connection.  When Kevin and Sally split up in 1997, again following an affair, there was a feeling of loss and confusion.  From the perspective of 2015, it's odd to think that Kevin was married to someone else before he and Sally reunited in 2002.  They were a couple who seemed to be stuck together.  Even now - and I speak as Tim's number one fan - they seem to have their engines idling, ready to reconnect.  There's chemistry and history and charm there and we're all waiting for them to stop mucking about and marry for a third time.

These aren't the full Burton/Taylor, though.  These are couples who belong together like matching sling backs.  To be a real Liz and Dick there has to be an animalistic, uncurbed passion underneath.  Peter and Carla had this relentless, unable to part lust, coupled with self-destructive instincts that hurt the both of them.  We all know that if Peter had hung around a couple more months, he and Carla would have had a sloppy reunion, probably immediately followed by a noisy separation.  That was just the way they worked.

Similarly, if Karen or Becky returned to the Street, there would be a Steve-shaped hole in the side of the Rovers as he rushed to their side.  What he has with Michelle can't compete.

The real Burton and Taylor of Weatherfield, though, are his mum and dad, Liz and Jim.  For twenty odd years they've crashed into one another all over the cobbles, screaming, violent, lusty.  She left Jim to run a pub; they reunited.  He beat seven bells out of her; they separated.  They grew closer, then divorced, then remarried while he was in prison.  That's a level of insane commitment.  They divorced again, but always, always, we knew that Jim was her true love, even as Liz married Vernon.  He robbed a building society for her, for heaven's sake.

Even when Jim returned a few months ago, and Liz spat disgusted words at him across a formica table, we didn't really believe it.  They're a pair of screaming cats who finish fighting and immediately start doing something else that begins with "f".  Everyone knew it - even Liz's current boyfriend, Tony, viewed her prison visits as tantamount to foreplay.  We're all just waiting for Big Jim to turn up at the Rovers and for the cycle to start all over again.  Liz and Jim, Liz and Dick - never ending passions.

Download our App | Follow on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog | Like on Facebook

Creative Commons Licence
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Humpty Dumpty said...

I agree with everything except Kevin and Sally. Tim and Sal met during Michael le Vell's absence from the show and it was probably planned that Kev would get her back when M le V returned, but the actor had to be off screen again for a while. That meant Tim and Sal became a proper item; totally unplanned but totally wonderful. Don't mess with that, producers, please. I firmly believe that double acts can work brilliantly without being married. Better, in fact, than being married because a frisson can always be there without following through. I wish Peter and Carla had done that, becoming the love affair that never was. Len and Elsie were a good example of something similar when Len was married to Rita.

Jim and Liz are destined to be in each other's lives, not necessarily married and maybe not even soul mates, but always crashing into each other from time to time.

Flaming Nora said...


Llifon said...

Great Scott that was fab!

Tvor said...

Wonderful! Absolutely, Jim and Liz are most definitely the Burton and Taylor of the street!

Newfy Pearl said...

I like Sally with Tim. I like that Tim gets along with Kev and there is the brotherhood of knowing what it is like to deal with Sally.
With that said I hope the Kev and Jenny union may go somewhere.
I think that Nick and Leanne are the new Ken and Deirdre/ Taylor and Burton. I am sure it will not take long for them to reconnect now that Nick is himself again and Leanne is working at Nick's.

Nikki NZ said...

i agree that Nick and Leanne should be one of those couples. But it would help if Nick were played by the same actor. Some continuity'a got lost along he way.

BarrieT said...

Nick and Leanne are definitely suited to each other, maybe thats why they've now sidelined Kal and brought Leanne back into the bistro. Kal should've been on that bus (or under it). Liz and Jim definitely but Kevin doesn't stand a chance unless he shaves that beard off.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post.

I know both Phil Collinson and Stuart Blackburn have compared Peter and Carla to Burton and Taylor. They were very passionate from the beginning and that passion/love never seemed to fade. Even when they’d split up.
Not only the passion but the alcoholism and self-destruction played a huge part; it has always seemed like that’s the way the writers enjoy portraying them.
In one of his last interviews, Chris Gascoyne said the writers call Peter and Carla “The Burton and Taylor of the Cobbles” which is “very flattering”.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Our Top 10 Blog Posts in last 7 days (automatically updated)

Click on a name to find out more about your Corrie favourites!

adam barlow aidan connor alan halsall alex bain alexander bain alison king alison sinclair all about soap awards alma baldwin amy barlow amy kelly andrea beckett andy whyment anna windass antony cotton audrey roberts awards baby Oliver barbara knox barlows battleaxes becky mcdonald behind the scenes ben price ben tagoe bet gilroy bet lynch beth tinker bethany platt betty driver betty turpin betty williams betty's hotpot bev callard beverley callard bill roache billy mayhew billy the vicar blanche hunt brian packham brooke vincent bruno langley can i visit the coronation street set Canada canadian coronation street fans carla connor Cath Tyldesley catherine tyldesley cathy matthews celebrities on coronation street characters joining coronation street characters leaving coronation street cherylee houston chesney brown chris gascoyne chris harper claire king classic corrie clothes worn on coronation street colson smith competition connor mcintyre conversation street coronation street coronation street art coronation street babies Coronation Street Blog - the book coronation street cartoons coronation street fan events coronation street fan of the week coronation street fans coronation street funerals coronation street history coronation street in canada coronation street look-a-like coronation street map coronation street men coronation street merchandise coronation street news coronation street preview coronation street spoilers coronation street weekly update coronation street weekly updates coronation street writers craig tinker damon alexis-rochefort damon rochefort daniel brocklebank daran little david neilson david platt debbie oates debbie rush debbie webster deirdre barlow deirdre hunt denise osbourne derek griffiths dev alahan eileen derbyshire eileen grimshaw Elle Mulvaney ellie leach ellie-louise leach elsie tanner emily bishop emily nugent ena sharples erica stewart exclusive interview exercise dvds famous people who have been in corrie fat brenda favourite females favourite males faye windass feckless fellas in coronation street filming locations filming mistakes fiz brown fiz stape florizel street flying ducks gail rodwell gary windass gary's army diaries gay and lesbians gay men in coronation street gay men in soaps gay women in soaps granada manchester coronation street set granada studios gurn of the week helen flanagan helen worth hilda ogden hilda ogden's curlers Hope Stape hot pot how to contact coronation street inside soap inside soap magazine izzy armstrong jack p shepherd Jack P. Shepherd jane danson jean alexander jennie mcalpine jigsaw jimmi harkishin job vacancies at coronation street joe duttine johnny connor jonathan harvey julie goodyear julie hesmondhalgh kabin kate fitzgerald kate ford katherine kelly kathy jones katie mcglynn ken barlow kev webster kevin webster kieran roberts kirk sutherland kylie platt kylie turner kym marsh leanne barlow leanne battersby leanne tilsley liam bairstow lily platt lisa george liz mcdonald lloyd mullaney Lucy Fallon luke britton maggie jones malcolm hebden manchester tart marc baylis maria connor mark llewellin martin sterling mary taylor matriachs maxine's bench michael le vell michelle connor mikey north mikey north miley windass minnie caldwell mothers on the cobbles music in the rovers nathan curtis new set new zealand newton and ridley nick tilsley nick's bistro nigel pivaro no.1 Coronation Street no.11 coronation street no.13 coronation street no.3 coronation street no.5 coronation street no.6 coronation street no.7 coronation street no.9 coronation street norris cole norris cole's brother nuttalls brewery odd side of the street official coronation street website oldham coliseum oliver battersby on location opening titles original cast our blog is the best blog in the world outside broadcast paper boys paper girls pat phelan pat phoenix patti claire patti clare paula lane peter barlow peter gunn pets on coronation street pictures of the coronation street set pigeons pillars of the community platt family plot holes props qasim akhtar quay street returning characters rita fairclough rita littlewood rita sullivan rita tanner road to coronation street rob donovan rob mallard romanian holiday rosamund street rosie webster rovers bosses rovers fire rovers return rovers return barmaids rovers return fire rovers return landlady roy and hayley roy cropper roy's rolls roys rolls ryan thomas sair khan sally webster sally and tim sally dynevor sally dyvenor Sally Metcalfe sally webster sally whittaker sam aston samia ghadie samia longchambon sarah platt Sarah-Louise Platt schmeichel sean tully shayne ward shelley king simon barlow simon crowther simon gregson sinead tinker six episodes per week sophie webster special effects speculation spin-off spoilers state of the street steve mcdonald storyline speculation storylines streetcars sue cleaver sue johnston sue nicholls susan barlow susan oudot sylvia cropper sylvia goodwin terry duckworth the corrie years the kabin the Nazirs the newspaper boy the road to coronation street through the years tim metcalfe tina o'bren tina o'brien Tina O’Brien tiricia hopkins todd grimshaw tony warren Tony Warren inspiration tours of coronation street toyah battersby tracy barlow trafford set tram crash tricia hopkins tyrone dobbs underworld underworld sign unofficial book unofficial merchandise unseen characters viaduct street victoria court fire vip bloggers walking tours watch coronation street online weatherfield weatherfield arms weatherfield council weatherfield county weatherfield county football club weatherfield fire station weatherfield gazette weatherfield haulage Weatherfield high Weatherfield Open Days weatherfield style weatherfield wayfarer websters' autos wedding wedding dress weddings weekly awards weekly update where have you seen william roache William Roache Interview window cleaners writers for soaps Yasmeen nazir zeedan nazir