New Year's Day will see the temporary exit of longstanding Coronation Street character, Emily Bishop. Eileen Derbyshire, the actress who has played Emily for the past 55 years has asked for a six month leave of absence from the show and who can blame her for wanting to put her feet up for a while.
Yes, I know we hardly see Emily these days. As of 14 December, Corriepedia tells me she has only made 34 appearances and when you consider there have been more than 250 episodes produced so far in 2015, there have been long periods of absence for Emily already. Emily's exit is a defining moment though. As the longest serving female cast member, Eileen Derbyshire has contributed a huge amount to Corrie over the past five decades. Eileen is a superb actress who has kept true to her character over the years. The Emily we see today is exactly the Emily we would have expected all those years ago.
Emily's departure on 1st January will make the pool of Weatherfield veterans even smaller. We still have Ken, Norris, Rita, Audrey and Gail but not so long ago we also had Betty, Blanche, Deirdre, Jack and Vera. Times change and there are plenty of young characters coming through that give me hope, particularly Craig, Amy, Zeedan and Steph. So this isn't just another misty-eyed trot through past glories.
Although ITV have made it clear Eileen Derbyshire is only taking some time off, there have been concerns from fans that we won't see Emily back on the cobbles. I would hate this to be true, but if that is what Eileen inevitably decides then we would have to respect it. Miss Derbyshire is now 84 and many actors would have given up the rigorous Corrie schedules years ago.
When Emily does leave next week, it will be to travel to Peru to do volunteer work with her nephew, Spider. While I can believe Emily would want to do something like this, travelling to Peru at a week's notice is a bit more radical than climbing a tree on the Red Rec. In the show, Emily is actually two years older than Eileen. At 86, would Emily really embark on such an adventure? Maybe. What I like less is that the entire farewell storyline appears to be crammed into just six episodes. From emailing Spider on the Monday to setting off for the airport on New Year's Day, it all feels rather rushed to me. Granted, there may be reasons for this, but I admit to being a bit disappointed.
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