Sometimes an episode of Corrie comes along, or in this case, two, that leaves you punching the air with excitement that it is of such quality, and it was only apt that last night's double would be such considering the day that was in it.
Opening with Ken tactfully suggesting to Tracy that he bring Amy to the graveyard separately, and Tracy ruefully accepting, we were left in no doubt that Deirdre would be at the heart of it on what was her birthday and the first anniversary of her death. Every element of it appeared to be crafted with her in mind, with a big emphasis on great conversation, positivity and goodness, and we managed to see the best in almost everyone.
We had Robert agreeing to accompany Tracy to the graveyard so she wouldn’t be alone, and Todd sympathetic to her, making a beautiful bouquet to take with her. There was a lovely scene between Ken and Rita in the Rovers as they reminisced about old times, and a satisfying mention of Tricia Hopkins and her Deirdre-induced black eye, having spread false rumours about her then husband, and Tracy’s father, Ray Langton. Amy is upset to overhear them laughing, but is counselled by Robert who finds her crying on Maxine’s bench; another brilliant scene with excellent dialogue and performances which endeared Robert greatly.
His sensitive suggestion that Tracy might be suffering provides Amy with food for thought, and as Tracy sits at Deirdre’s grave, upset and lonely, her reaction to the arrival of Robert and Amy would actually have you feeling sorry for her. While Amy seems intent on the day together not changing anything, an encounter with Ken, Rita, Eileen and Steve in the Rovers makes her realise how much her Mum needs her, and she decides to move home, much to Tracy’s gratitude and delight.
Every one of these scenes was a joy to watch and a credit to Deirdre's memory.
Not only was Tracy a sympathetic character on Friday night, she showed genuine feeling for Todd’s predicament with Billy, reminding him that, today of all days, she realises life is too short. Todd thinks stealing his mate’s boyfriend is a bridge too far, and even gives Billy the brush off when he drops by to talk about Todd's confession the night before. I loved this scene, especially Billy gently urging Todd to have respect, and not embarrass himself. It doesn’t work though, and Todd dismisses him.
Meanwhile, Sean is enthusiastically ironing no less than 15 shirts for their trip to London without any idea that Billy is about to break up with him after spotting Todd in the florist as they go by in the cab. An angry Eileen later tells Billy that Sean has gone to London anyway when they’re interrupted by matchmaker Tracy Barlow who drags him around to Todd in the shop and announces they’re both single before leaving them to it.
While I did feel sorry for Sean, I was positively giddy about the ensuing scenes in which Todd and Billy went around to number 11 so that he could pick up his things. The atmosphere was charged with chemistry, hesitation and desire before they finally gave in to their feelings. Todd asking Billy mid-kiss if he knew he was trouble, and Billy replying that he'd heard as much, had me rapt. Daniel Brocklebank and Bruno Langley played this to perfection, and it's marvellous for me to see something I've wanted come to pass.
A rather transformed Simon enjoys the banter with Leanne, and after she hurts her back at her loathed new job, he’s happy to go out with a delighted Nick instead so she can rest up. When he and Nick return, she’s amazed and grateful to see him so happy. Nick stays for a drink and massages her back in a scene which had me not quite knowing where to look and Leanne grinning like a Cheshire cat. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Simon who remarks that he was always the man for her, but she assures him they're just friends. Does this mark the conclusion of Simon's troubled ways? While it has all ended rather abruptly, I do hope so. The verdict is still out on whether Leanne and Nick reuniting would be a good move.
It’s lovely to see Bethany so excited about joining the gym considering her present woes, but Kylie finds her deflated when it turns out she needs her Mum to sign the form, and can’t afford the fees. Forging Sarah’s signature, Kylie marches her around to Gary to get a discount.
Meanwhile, Gemma is tormented in Prima Doner for free kebabs by Macca and newcomer Clayton. Chesney returns from Wolverhampton where he’s been helping Cilla after a fall, and the pair scurry out into the street just as Kylie and Bethany are passing. They can’t resist demanding to know how Callum was found in the Platt's and Kylie insists Bethany ignore them, that it’s all behind them. I enjoyed Kylie's outlook in these episodes, and her earlier scene with Gemma in which the pair made friends again. Having learned of that spoiler last week, it has certainly changed the viewing experience for me. I'm rather enjoying looking for clues everywhere as to what might happen, but remain with absolutely no idea. I'm glad about this, and happy to be sufficiently intrigued.
I had to watch these episodes twice I enjoyed them that much. Written by Mark Burt and Damon Rochefort, they were sensitive without being saccharine, and the humour was gentle; Steve's awkwardness in the face of Sean's break-up. and Tracy demanding to know what a man in the graveyard was looking at being two highlights. They had a perfect mix of normality and excitement, and a homeliness fitting of episodes marking the anniversary of a character such as Deirdre. As I've said before, Deirdre's special legacy is not just made up of memories on the Street, but the sense of what it was to know her. This double episode was crafted such that you could sense her everywhere, and you can't ask for a more fitting anniversary tribute.
By Emma Hynes
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