Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Let's talk about sex on Coronation Street

Nearly all Coronation Street characters can be separated by six degrees of copulation. 

The cobbles play host to one big swingers' party and it has pretty much always been that way.

Jean Alexander might have had a point back in 2012 when she claimed Corrie had 'sold its soul to sex and scandal.' The Street hasn't necessarily lost its soul but I'm sure there was a collective sigh of 'well that was inevitable' when it was suggested that Nick and Carla were to bump uglies. The two sexy, successful, but unlucky in love neighbours started to spend more time together some time ago and were clearly gagging for it, but cautious Carla kept things friendly and platonic until she got to grips with her feelings. Just as things were about to go to the next level, Erica returned, complete with a bun in the oven. 

On Monday we saw Leanne involve herself in the Nick-Carla, Nick-Erica scenario, suggesting Carla should tell a certain someone about her feelings before it's too late. She should know, Nick's also 'been' there too. In fact, add to that list Maria, Eva, Kylie and that almost snog with Todd, and our Casanova Nick's certainly done the rounds. The dirty dog. No wonder he's got brain damage.

Soaps are stories about relationships, and more often than not, about the implications that arise from sexual interaction between characters. Look at other recent storylines for example - Faye and her teen pregnancy, Tracy getting her claws into Tony behind Liz's back, even Sally and Tim's 'come to bed eyes' over their drinks in the Rovers. It's all going on under that metaphorical duvet that is the Greater Manchester sky.

There are so many storylines based around sex from the last few years. I've selected a few to highlight how Coronation Street covers this important subject. So let's talk about sex...


Liz McDonald. In her underwear. On a balcony. Ena Sharples would have been spinning in her grave. The scenes were hilarious but also showed us the pain Liz felt yet again at being continuously unlucky in love.

It's a common theme in soap operas. Liz has bags of sex appeal but perhaps is just a little too obvious with it and it doesn't help that she often falls for men who are already taken.

We've followed Liz's bed hopping over many years, with that ever present cleavage glaring at us like a fissure into the bowels of Hell, but Liz is the ultimate tart with a heart.

One big and rather pleasant development in Coronation Street over the past year has been the blossoming relationship between Sally and Tim. Since Tim came on the scene, he has won many of our hearts, which is no mean feat, especially as he is effectively filling the shoes of Kevin Webster. After years referring to Kevin and Sally as if they were one person, it's difficult to get used to big changes like this, but it has been cleverly written, with them all becoming one big family. The relationship between Kevin and Tim is lovely, and a refreshing approach to the ex and the new man scenario. And as we've seen recently, Sally and Tim's night time, and sometimes day time bedroom activity, proves that this might be a relationship that lasts. Let's hope so.

For a while it felt like Corrie writers were trying to shove gays down our throat. If you'll pardon the expression. But Sophie Webster, recently telling us it's ok to say 'lesbian' out loud, was funny but also reflected the attitudes still present in British society about homosexuality. I think we've all got used to girls kissing girls and boys kissing boys now, and of course girls who used to be boys kissing boys, thanks to the much-missed Hayley Cropper, but I think a bit more modest messaging might be needed before some viewers see these things as 'normal'. It's important that we see gay characters with proper storylines too, not just about their sexuality. It's not ALL about sex when you're gay. I'm told.


Carla's rape storyline gave actress Alison King some of her best but ultimately most harrowing scenes on the show. It showed a strong woman, reduced to a nervous wreck after Frank assaulted her in her own home. Such storylines are delicately approached and are often unpleasant to watch, particularly when a prominent character is involved, but rape happens and Coronation Street produced some very emotional scenes surrounding this storyline, whilst offering support to any viewers who had been raped themselves. 

Let's move on to the somewhat familiar tale of teen pregnancy. It's hard to believe so many years have passed since Sarah-Lou gave birth to Bethany. What's even harder to fathom is why there hasn't been more interaction between Sarah and Faye considering the young Windass has just had to endure the same life changing experience herself. Nonetheless this is another example of Corrie approaching a subject that has proven problematic throughout UK society - sex education and teen pregnancy. It hasn't been The Street's most emotive storyline this time round, and had a lot to live up to considering last time they approached it the issue was discussed in parliament. It's still a problem though so Corrie was probably right to bring it into the consciousness of a new audience. 

Now for the issue of selling sex. The Anna & Phelan storyline was upsetting and difficult to watch. Debbie Rush portrays torment and sadness brilliantly and these were some of her best performances. Feeling she had to sleep with Phelan in order settle Owen's debts was new territory for Corrie, who have touched on prostitution and escorting in the past, but this new, emotional twist was excellent, if somewhat depressing.

And what about the steamy affair between Tina and Peter? The less said about that the better.


Tug, tug, tug. Went the tug boat. Ken's dalliances with Martha, on what was actually a canal barge, were part of a lovely time in Corrie's recent history. We were lucky enough to still have Blanche and Deirdre with us, played by true Coronation Street greats Maggie Jones and Anne Kirkbride. Not long after, there were some very public discussions about the goings on in the Barlow family, care of Alcoholics Anonymous, but who knows what really went on down in that galley between Ken and Martha...

Now an unlikely coupling. Even though it never actually happened, the idea of Roy and Tracy getting it on was planted in our consciousness some years ago, in a bizarre storyline that involved numerous Street residents. Thankfully it turned out to be one of Tracy's evil schemes to milk Roy and Hayley for all she could, and I'm sure we all breathed a sigh of relief when we were let in on the secret. It didn't happen. 


So let's all have a stiff one and raise our glasses to all the great Coronation Street sex over the years. And plenty more to come. Keep it up, Corrie. 

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Llywela said...

Nice post!

There was a lot of talk when Sarah's return was announced, about the timing of it coinciding with Faye's teen pregnancy storyline and the possibility for interaction. I'm in two minds. On the one hand, it would be nice to see the two storylines overlap - perhaps Bethany talking to Faye about the other end of that experience, if not Sarah herself. But on the other hand, I find it only too realistic that there hasn't been any such conversation. Sarah doesn't know Faye from Adam and, frankly, it isn't in her character to seek out a fellow teen mum just for the sake of sharing her experience - setting up such a talk could easily feel contrived. So while on the one hand it's an opportunity going begging, on the other hand, it's completely realistic that they've not had a talk.

Stevie Dawson said...

Yes you're probably right about that Llywela.

abbyk said...

Agree with you, Llywela. The Windasses arrived after Sarah's departure and Faye joined them a few years later. Gail and Anna are far from friends. There's no way Sarah and Faye would know each other. The only believable scenario where they'd meet would be if Sarah witnessed Faye, baby in tow, being berated by Anna, again. Given Sarah's record of making bad relationship choices, befriending a Windass, after what they did to Joe, would be in character.

That said, Sarah needs to grow up a bit, and Faye needs an adult or two in her corner. Might not be a bad pairing.

Barrie.T said...

I think Callum's skinny hairy shoulders will go down in history too

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post - much needed! The tangled web... and so on. Sex is not bad in and of itself. Incoherence is, however, bad, and maybe that's the problem.

Anonymous said...

And of course the complete idiotic carry-on that had Steve and Michelle finally hitting the sheets and announcing it to the've got a glow on Michelle. These are middle aged people having sex..what's the big deal? That's one of the side effects of anti depressants..willie limp limp.

Tvor said...

I can see that it might be awkward to bring SArah and FAye together as they are strangers but even if Gail and Anna are not friends, I can't help thinking Gail would still be sympathetic to Anna's situation and offer a shoulder should Anna want one. If that did happen, it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility that Gail ask Sarah to talk to Faye. It might still happen.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Liz's cleavage to a fissure to the bowels of Hell made me laugh out loud!

There's a very interesting interview with Bev Callard on Digital Spy where she talks about Liz's appalling dress sense and how she sometimes questions some of the lines she has to say when the writers get it wrong. She also says she enjoyed the night shoot for the fire story because it was like the "old days". I wonder what we can take from that remark.

Anonymous said...

Faye and Bethenny aren't that far apart in age. It would be likely that Bethenny would spot Faye and Craig in the neighbourhood, which could lead to Faye meeting Sarah.

I don't understand the article's tsk tsk re gay relationships being portrayed as more than just sex. I don't recall Corrie ever making a gay relationship just about the sex. They've been quite restrained on that front.

Stevie Dawson said...

Fair point Anonymous and I get what you mean. I was referring more to sexuality rather than sex in that case. Quite often gay characters have 'gay' storylines. Sean for example hasn't had many big storylines but most major ones tend to revolve around him being gay and the problems that come with that. I suppose that just reflects real life but I'd like to see the sexuality less prominent sometimes.

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