Thursday, 16 July 2015

Liz and Deirdre - Sisters are doin' It for themselves

A guest blog post from Coronation Street Blog reader (and one of our Corrie fans of the week) ELK.

"With Deirdre's funeral the focus this week, several comments have appeared asking about Liz and Deirdre's friendship, even wondering why, if they're such good friends, we haven't seen them together on screen more often. This led me to search the wiki-annals for episodes from the 90s featuring scenes between them, except that I could hardly find any mention, possibly because those scenes were less central to plot events than they were to developing a dialogue and bond, like Steve and Lloyd shooting the breeze in StreetCars today.  It doesn't mean the scenes aren't there, but it requires delicate sifting to find them: for instance, Liz dropping by Deirdre's house in 1990 to apologise for Andy's antics in Ken's classroom (Andy wrote KB hearts WC, as in Ken Barlow loves Wendy Crozier, on the blackboard), or Liz, at the Rovers in 1997, encouraging Deirdre to visit Jon Lindsay at work on New Year's Eve, thus prompting the chain of events that would lead to Deirdre's discovery of his criminal web of lies.

For me, however, one of the most memorable Liz-Deirdre episodes took place in 1997 when Sally found out about Kevin's affair with Natalie Horrocks.  Upon getting confirmation from Bill Webster about the affair, Sal turns on her heel and heads for Natalie's house, but first she has to find someone to care for her girls. Meeting Deirdre in the street, she asks her to look after Rosie and Sophie while she nips out. Deirdre says she can't because she's going to the pictures with Liz. Sally hurriedly confides the reason for her taking off and Deirdre, immediately grasping the urgency of the situation, takes the two young girls back to her flat. There, she and Liz, waiting for Sally's return, discuss the ins and outs of cheating. Liz asks “Why d'you think people do it?” to which Deirdre – an expert at this point  – answers “You just get drawn into it, you don't realise the consequences... “  Liz wants to put Kevin down as a liar, but Deirdre is more magnanimous: “Maybe he's not. Maybe he just wasn't happy with Sally. You don't know how people are. You get bored, envious, it doesn't take much.”

This is the main thing I miss about the old Corrie - less judgment, less getting up on the high horse all around. On a street where neighbours live together in a fishbowl, ready to gossip at the drop of a hat, characters like Deirdre, and Emily as well, have served as bellwethers over the years, reminding others that not everything is as it seems, that, despite hearing arguments through thin walls, despite spying suspicious behaviour in the ginnels, despite a sense of entitled intrusiveness every which way, still, it's key to remember: “you don't know how people are.”

Liz and Deirdre's conversation in that episode isn't heavy. Deirdre tosses off her hard-earned truths like airy smoke rings from a cigarette. Almost in mid-thought they decide to ring up Sally to find out if she's back, in case there's still time to catch their flick. Meanwhile, Sally is back at hers sobbing, ignoring the phone, and bracing for a showdown with Kevin. We already know that Sally's personal tragedy will require more than a brief babysitting stint and that Liz and Deirdre will end up watching a video at home. It's an episode full of mature understanding and a worthwhile moral:  even if not all endings are sweet, at least you can depend on the fact that your neighbours aren't perfect either, they won't lord it over you, and will even sacrifice a night out at the pictures to extend a helping hand.

When I think about the origins of Coronation Street, I always think about the buried subtext: a series conceived by a gay man who, by sheer accident of his orientation, lived outside of conventional morality and occupied a unique perspective from which to critique it. This perspective also allowed him to identify with female characters who defied conventional morality and through whom he was able to express his own painful wisdom. Deirdre was certainly one of these characters and Liz her loyal confidante.

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Zagg said...

That was a really good post. It was nice to remember that scene with Liz and Dierdre. This show sure isn't what it once was. We used to get great scenes like this. Now we get a badly dressed Callum trying to act threatening and failing miserably. Or snarky Sarah still acting like a 14 year old. Or Bethany rolling her eyes as if it was dramatic flair. So, I guess it is a combination of bad writing and bad casting that plagues Corrie these days....and their lack of knowledge regarding the history of the characters.

Anonymous said...

An excellent analysis of some underlying and universal truths found in Corrie. Well done, Flaming Nora, and thank you.

catman said...

Me thinks that the writer may have watched/studied one too many episodes at the expense of a real existence. Can't fault the scholarly analysis. Well done, but get out more often.

Anonymous said...

Hey catman, thanks for commenting. I'm the writer of this blog, also a single mother and someone who lost a parent recently. In that way, I identify with both Deirdre and Tracy. I watch Coronation Street as a way to connect to a sense of community. It's not an academic exercise for me. I appreciate when other people on this site bare their feelings and I feel privileged to participate in the give and take. -ELK

Emma Hynes said...

Your blog is brilliant ELK and makes for very interesting reading. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your parent and hope you are coping okay.

The wonderful thing about this site is that yes, we can bare our feelings on the subject and support each other respectfully in doing so, whether blogging or commenting, and whether we agree or disagree. I too appreciate this element of it and am privileged to be a part of it.

Well done on an excellent blog. I very much look forward to reading more of them!

corrierules said...

Thanks for this post ELK, very well done. And to quote Russell Harty "There was life before Coronation Street, but it didn't add up to much."

Dolly Tubb said...

A great an insightful post, ELK, hope to see more of your posts on here. And I'm so sorry to hear of your sad loss, too. Like you I watch Corrie for the sense of community, the interactions, the characters - which as Zagg says, suffer from bad writing, bad acting, bad archiving - I can't tell you how much that upsets me!

Corrierules - love that quote!

And yes, I do get out, quite a lot, actually :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for the supportive response and condolences!


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