Tuesday, 16 June 2015

My thoughts on the return of Jenny Bradley

I have absolutely loved having Sally Ann Matthews back in Corrie as Jenny Bradley. The character hails from a strong era for Coronation Street, she was part of an iconic story and Sally Ann is a great actress. She has fitted in seamlessly again after all these years and has lifted the show with every appearance. 

However. unfortunately I fear the storyline built around Jenny's return has not done her justice. The idea of Jenny having such sadness in her life and the loss of a child might have worked a whole lot better if played out differently. As is often the case these days it was used to string out the maximum amount of drama and shock headlines rather than focusing on content and storytelling. 

For a start, last night's episodes were almost painful in places. Both episodes were really badly paced, the action unfolded really slowly and all tension was lost. We knew Jenny wouldn't harm Jack, we knew she wouldn't jump and would instead, end up being carted off by the police. 

I won't comment much further on the scriptwriters' painful collective failure to mention that Kevin has previously lost a young son. It was glaringly obvious again last night, the elephant on the balcony, as it were. This isn't just pointless nitpicking by sad fans - the fact Kevin could directly empathise with Jenny's sadness would have added a much needed extra dimension to the story. 

For me, there just haven't been enough references to Jenny's past. The storyline she featured in back in the 1980s ran for over three years and remains pretty iconic. It must have had such a lasting impact on Jenny's life that you can't help but think she'd have mentioned her father more often. Twice last night, once by Sally and once by Gail, Alan Bradley's history and demise were referenced. It felt weird and contrived though, as if these comments had been grafted onto the script at the last minute. Too little, too late.

I must also comment briefly on Sophie Webster's involvement in this story. I know she is grieving for Maddie and I know she has never taken to Jenny but her actions and behaviour have been both disappointing and irritating yet again. For a supposed Christian, Sophie is quick to judge, harsh in tone and lacks remorse or empathy. As with other characters (principally Fiz) she has acted out of character for too long and it's become a habit. These Corrie women used to be full of life and good humour, now they are blatantly nasty and unpleasant.

It feels like Jenny's return was wasted to a certain extent for a series of cheap ratings stunts and after all this it doesn't look like she'll be back anytime soon. Sadly we weren't treated to nearly enough scenes between Jenny and Rita or indeed Jenny and any other established regulars. All too often these days Corrie characters interact with a small group of regulars and storylines seem to operate on very separate tracks. This does nothing to foster the sense of community, something the programme was established on many years ago.

I hope this isn't the last time we see the brilliant Sally Ann Matthews in Coronation Street. I thought the onscreen relationship between Kevin and Jenny could have worked out long term. Whatever Sally Ann does next, I wish her all the best. Thank you for bringing Jenny back to life, I just wish I'd enjoyed the storyline more.

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Anonymous said...

Although I wasn't watching Corrie in the 80s, I was somewhat familiar with her back story and I really enjoyed Sally Ann's performance. But, like you, I really wish she had been give a better story, and one that would have allowed her to stay longer.

I agree with you that the women on the street are becoming almost unrelentingly nasty, even ones that were once quite likeable. The only one who seems to have reversed this trend is Yasmeen, who started out strident and harsh and is now showing a more compassionate side.

I always enjoy reading your posts, Graeme.

Graeme N said...

Thank you!

Stevie Dawson said...

Again, I agree with you Graeme. I noticed tension was lost because of the way they cut between different scenes and shots, which a small amount of tidying up in the final edit could have fixed. There seems to be a lack of attention to detail which has really shown itself since the new year. Can't really explain why.

One example of attention to detail lacking I spotted was a simple 'jump cut' where Rita and Norris were walking toward Mary at the wake (Friday). When they cut to the next shot they were standing still next to her. A silly mistake that a good editor shouldn't be making, especially on Coronation Street. So it's not just the consistencies of the writing, it's the whole final product.

Jennie has been brilliant though, as has Liz McDonald in these storylines, and there's a lot going on which keeps me interested. As unusually attentive fans though we do spot the things you've mentioned, perhaps many others don't. Should we care that much?

Anonymous said...

Should we care that much? Probably not, but we just can't help it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think Sophie is "Christian" any longer. There is no mention of attending church it was in my opinion just a passing fancy which she outgrew. I am not a fan of Sophie would not be sad to see the back of her character. What's next we wait till the next new girlfriend comes along while she lives with her Dad and works at a dead-end job?
I am not in the majority loving the return of Jenny I was a viewer way back when she was originally in the show didn't like her then and don't like her now. She came on way too strong and heavy with her attention towards Jack and anyone with half a brain could see it was creepy and unnatural. Having said that the actress is very talented and has done an excellent job.

abbyk said...

Didn't watch Corrie during Jennie's 1st run but have truly enjoyed her this spring. If murderess Tracy Barlow can be sprung from prison and accepted by all, I wish there were a way for this clearly unwell woman to find the psychological help she needs and make a return. She's one good actor!

maggie muggins said...

Thanks for another thoughtful post, Graeme. I hesitated to comment on Jenny's behaviour because so many were glad to see her back, and liked her acting, especially the kidnap episodes. I found the way it was written was overblown and, sadly, repetitive as a sensational storyline. I missed the younger Jenny and Rita days, but I bet Sally Ann would have done better with a more realistic reaction to losing a child. I'm not saying there's one way to grieve this biggest of losses, but the mad hatter shtick is kind of insulting to those who have been through it.

The amount of gurning required for another balcony showdown was painful for me to watch. I think Corrie producers need to give the cast (I'm looking at Todd) some lessons in being a good villain. A bereft mother is not a villain, and the writers know it, but Jenny was mainly made out to be one anyway. Grief is complex and as a good article in Radio Times pointed out today, Corrie (and other soaps too), have the luxury of time to present human experiences in somewhat better ways. http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-06-16/coronation-street-why-must-bereaved-mums-like-jenny-bradley-turn-into-maniacs

Anonymous said...

Thank you, maggie, for the link to that article. It was right on the money. I hope TPTB at Corrie have seen it.

I think this phrase "such hokey twists squander the chance to tell proper, grown-up stories" applies not only to bereaved mothers but to many other situations we've seen lately on Corrie.

Flaming Nora said...

The link to the article in the Radio Times, above, isn't a patch on our blogger Scott's blog article on the same theme which he wrote some weeks ago. Coronation Street's Fallen Women - http://coronationstreetupdates.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/fallen-women.html

Jonathan said...

I largely agree with you Graeme what you have to say although I liked Jenny a lot more now than I did when I watched her original run. I found Jenny then to be a largely selfish and unlikable character

Anonymous said...

I thought the article in Radio Times was excellent.

maggie muggins said...

Flaming Nora, thanks for reminding me of Scott's blog article! I'd forgot that so many of us were rolling our eyes at yet another "loony" grieving mum.

Anonymous said...

Whatever scenes have been filmed before the outcry about the lack of continuity and research, can hopefully be turned around with some decent writing.

As for Sophie, this line: "For a supposed Christian, Sophie is quick to judge, harsh in tone and lacks remorse or empathy" - sadly that's my experience of every churchgoer in my life.

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