Friday, 8 April 2016

Battleaxe Wanted - Who Can Match Ena Sharples?

A true battleaxe must be no younger than late middle age. She must be forceful, even fearsome. She must speak her mind and not be in any way hesitant in doing so. She must be fiercely judgemental and willing to share those judgements, irrespective of the damage they might cause. She must also gossip fulsomely, even though there may be no foundation at all to the content of the gossip.

A true battleaxe will tell people to their face exactly what their wrongdoings are and will not care who hears, nor will she be concerned about how this might affect her own reputation. She will believe that what she is doing is right, absolutely right - and that everyone else is wrong. She will also suggest that she knows more about her neighbours than she actually does.

The archetypal, original battleaxe is of course the inimitable Ena Sharples. Since Ena, there has not yet been any one to match her. What's more I would go as far as to say that there never will be.

It is important to recognise that Ena, despite her bluster and her gossip, stirred affection in her audience. Maybe that is because she was vulnerable. She did not have a good relationship with her daughter Vera, largely because she was only too quick to inform Vera of her faults. The rift began to heal when Vera was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was in debt. Ena was reduced to stealing two tins of salmon and nursed her daughter until she died in Ena's bed. Who can not have some feelings for a woman such as this?.

Those who have attempted to take the battle axe crown don't really pass muster. Ivy Tilsley, though she had battle axe credentials, was too young. Blanche Hunt was close and Maud Grimes was also close. Sylvia, Roy's mum was another possibility but maybe we blame her too much for some of the difficulties Roy may have experienced, especially when growing up.

So what about potential battle axes? At one point. Gail might have been a contender but has become a bit too simpering of late. Yasmeen is a possibility but on second thoughts, she is not sufficiently gossipy. Sally? Well, she is a battle axe in the making, but has a way to go to achieve full battleaxe status. As yet, she's too young to take the on the battleaxe mantle, but in a couple of decades, she'll be there. We only have to wait until 2036.

Ruth - twitter @ruth1722

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70sStreetFan said...

I agree that we've never had anyone to match Ena. Ivy was wonderful- prior to the final few years,when her character was taken down the wrong route. She wasn't really a gossip though,and tended to save her ire for family members. Maud was also a great character,but again it was mainly Reg and Maureen who got the rough end of her tongue. She wasn't ever a particularly central character either. Phyllis was actually a bit of a dragon during her original stint,but they changed her character when she began working at the cafe. Blanche was much loved for her one liners. But,although Maggie Jones was a fine actress,I felt the character was a bit too one dimensional during her " battleaxe" period. Her main function seemed to be to outrageously offensive to everyone. For me,her character lacked the truth and depth of Ena and some of the others we've mentioned. A pity really,as the Blanche of the 70s was a very rounded,believable character. I think that Sylvia was maybe the closest we've come to Ena. She had the wit of Blanche,and authority but seemed a more real and complex character. Stephanie Cole's departure was a tough blow. There don't seem to be any potential battleaxes in the making in the current cast. Perhaps Roy's Auntie or Mary or Erica's mum could be cast,or some other new character. Until then I think that Ena's crown remains secure.

Sherrilan Laroche said...

Hard to think of anyone taking over that crown. Blanche came close along with Maud. But if Sylvia returns, she would be perfect as she has the potential to become a battleaxe. Time to bring one back.

Anonymous said...

Does a battleaxe need to be female? Norris Cole is a few steps away.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Although she's way too young for the official mantle, I'd always hoped that Fiz would become the next battle-axe. Unfortunately, they've made her too shrewish. Sally, again too young, is more of a martinet and too dainty for the job, as is Gail. Ideally, a battle-axe stomps about in an ungainly fashion and needs sturdy support in the lingerie department. But beneath the steely exterior lies a heart of gold and there aren't many female characters like that on Corrie.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Although she's way too young for the official mantle, I'd always hoped that Fiz would become the next battle-axe. Unfortunately, they've made her too shrewish. Sally, again too young, is more of a martinet and too dainty for the job, as is Gail. Ideally, a battle-axe stomps about in an ungainly fashion and needs sturdy support in the lingerie department. But beneath the steely exterior lies a heart of gold and there aren't too many female characters like that on Corrie.

Adam said...

Ena is unrivalled. The nearest we ever got, as has been pointed out, was Sylvia. Just a shame Stephanie Cole isn't interested in coming back.

Cobblestone said...

Diedre, in her later incarnation, was a very great loss, because she was evolving into a new kind of battleaxe: she was blunt but oblivious, making whatever observations popped into her head without considering how her words would effect others. She had none of Blanche's calculated brutality, or Ena or Maud's judgementalism. She just said whatever occurred to her. Because people had a general affection for her, they would usually take what she said with a pinch of salt. If Annie had not been taken so soon, I've a feeling this trait would have been developed further.
Blanche was hilarious, but as previous commentators have mentioned, often (but not always) the writers tended to characature her, falling over themselves to write the next Blanche zinger, in the same way many of the writers have now latched on to the
'Sally = Comedy Snob' equation (thank God for Timothy!). It takes the more adept writers to ground these characters in their basic humanity, the way the old writers like Jack Rosentall used to ground Ena and Annie Walker. (I cringed tonight at the writing - Liz has managed pubs for 20 years: why would she falter and hesitate over the name of 'the really nice' whisky in the back? She would know a Lagavulen from a Teacher's!)
But speaking of Liz, there's a potential battleaxe: she's the right age, she's not backward in coming forward, barring her requirement for publican's tact - again, assuming the writers are competent and not turning out last week's dross of her going ballistic over Michelle having one drink with a guy she dated when she was fourteen!

Anonymous said...

Becky used an axe once - does that count? :)

Anonymous said...

Mary has рotential - a judging battleaxe with comрletely irreverent remarks (usually connected to her own life) - yes, I did want to use the word 'irreverent' not 'irrelevant' (look it uр)

C in Canada said...

Bring back Sylvia! She was spot on!

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