Monday, 25 January 2016

The Revenants On The Street

With the news that Richie O'Driscoll will be back in a new storyline, I thought I'd write a blogpost about recurring actors. When Richie turned up at the climax of the rather ridiculous ping pong tournament story, I thought: Hang on, we've seen him before - didn't he investigate Liam Connor's death way back when? A post on this very site confirmed my suspicions. You're bang to rights, James Midgeley! Despite “Richie” having three different names, it is conceivable that he would be the police officer on three different cases, but it's a bit weird that he would be an underwear buyer as well.

Thinking about whether Tony Gordon killed Liam Connor

Thinking very seriously about table tennis
The practical reasons for this are obvious: if a previously cast actor is available, then there's no need for auditions. However, re-using the same actor in a different role takes away from Corrie's reality - the reality that the set designer, writers, actors, directors and producer strive so hard to create. In the same way that we love the continuity points (Bistro customers are still eating those olives that Gail (Lewis) over-ordered) and decry it when the soap is inconsistent (the writers forgetting that Kevin had a child who died), we love it when actors return to play the same character – Jenny Reece, the curly haired registrar, who must surely groan when she sees the address of the bride and groom, knowing that she won't get an early lunch, or the sardonic, bald desk sergeant at Weatherfield police station, or the undergarments buyer in a wheelchair who likes to flirt with Carla at their Bistro business meetings. It would be rather odd if Jenny rocked up as (e.g.) new character Ava Baraclough, Trainee Assistant Manager at Freshco's, for example. What makes it fine for one guest actor to be the same character but others to play several?

"I bet £10 the bride doesn't turn up."

It works well sometimes: Alison King played a bored housewife who seduced the young(er) Jason before she strutted onto the cobbles as Carla C. Joe Duttine (Tim) was a police officer before Fay(e) found him on the internet. The current Robert Preston was Leanne's drug counsellor back in 2000, and Antony Cotton's first appearance was as a nurse at a staff party, at which Gail's ex, and current cheesemonger, Martin and Katy (not dancing Katie or current Connor Kate - the previous Katy, who killed her dad, then died, then married Tyone in real life) snogged. When he turned up the following year as fully formed character Sean Tully, his stint in the NHS was never mentioned and he didn't even say hello to his pal Martin, before the latter left for Liverpool, never to return, even when his granddaughter was born. And of course, there's Dave Dutton, the man of a million parts. 
Photo from
The worst re-use of an actor was Colin Fishwick. Although I loved the character, actor and storyline, David Crellin was immediately recognisable as Steve's former girlfriend Ronnie Clayton's gangster husband, Jimmy, and was, to my mind, dead. Perhaps John Stape knew that when he took Colin's identity; Colin had one to spare.

Colin Fishwick, or is it Jimmy Clayton?

Perhaps I'm being overly fussy. After all, we believe it when a character moves from Emmerdale to Corrie or when an ex-reality pop star turn up. We understand when Nicky Tilsley returns three inches taller and seven years older. I wonder how beloved a character has to be before they can be replaced with another actor? It's unlikely that Emily will return from Peru looking like, e.g., Patricia Routledge. But would they replace Chris Gascoyne, given that Peter's already been played by a few different actors? What about, say, Kylie Platt, Luke Britton, or former characters Graham Proctor or Andy MacDonald? Could they come back, played by someone else? Who do you think is too iconic to return with a different head?

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Anonymous said...

David Platt. Or any Platt.
All MacDonald's
Fiz, Roy Tyrone
Rita, Ken

Tvor said...

for very minor roles, I don't see the problem reusing actors. Casting one that's been in several minor roles as a main character is ok too, providing there's been a bit of time between the most recent minor role and the main one. Recasting a child with an older actor is ok and they have had success recasting a major role, at least when that character has been played by multiple actors i.e. Peter, Tracy) American soaps recast major characters all the time and it's very jarring to get used to, especially if they use the tired old "Accident/plastic surgery" excuse which they don't always but it's not uncommon, either. Now and then a recast is very good. Our current Nick is miles better than the previous one.

I think some characters could very well be recast after an absence, for instance, I think Rosie Webster certainly could change heads and be accepted. When Sarah Lou returned, they probably could have done ok with a new actor as well if they had to, same with Todd. Those characters have all been off the show for quite some time so it probably can work under those circumstances. A long time really loved character, though, probably wouldn't work and should be recast i.e. Hayley.

Antiphon said...

I have sometimes wondered whether it would be feasible to bring back characters who last appeared many years ago played by new actors. For example, Lucille Hewitt, then played by Jennifer Moss, last appeared in 1974 when the actor was sacked due to personal issues. Jennifer Moss sadly died in 2006, but I wonder if the character could be reintroduced now played by someone else, provided the family of Jennifer Moss had no objection. It would be interesting to learn what Lucille's life had been like in Ireland since leaving the cobbles and possibly also learn the ultimate fate of Annie Walker with whom Lucille had lodged and who named Lucille as a beneficiary in her will. As not everyone would remember Jennifer Moss in the role 42 years ago this might well work. Similarly, Billy Walker last appeared in 1984 played by Kenneth Farrington, and had previously only appeared on a recurring basis since 1961. As the character has not appeared in the show for 32 years it might be feasible to reintroduce him played by another actor if Kenneth Farrington did not want to reprise the role.

Anonymous said...

I was just blown away by the fact that you recognized the actors in several different roles after all these years. Amazing.

Newfy Pearl said...

I like that some characters remain the same....
Here is a clip of Leanne with her drug counsellor - Robert Preston is sexier. lol

Anonymous said...

Although Peter has been played by more than one character in the past, now that we have seen Chris Gascoyne, it should be clear that he could NEVER be replaced.

John from Corriepedia said...

There's a lot more re-use of actors than some people suppose - so far we have traced 1105 actors who have played more than one part in the programme and there's more to come. Some are famous names in Corrie: Jean Alexander, Geoffrey Hughes, Roy Barraclough, Johnny Briggs, Fred Feast, Stephen Hancock, Maggie Jones, Michael Le Vell and Bill Tarmey.

C in Canada said...

I think it would depend a lot on whether the character is a regular, how popular they are, and if they've been absent for some time (and if the original actor is still available/alive).

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