Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Robert's Drug Problem

Last night Chesney was stabbed in the shoulder by an out of control drug dealer with a wine bottle.  It was staggeringly unrealistic.  I don't just mean Chesney managing to get a deep tissue wound from a bit of a bump; I don't just mean the way the Bistro emptied in about thirteen seconds (including all the kitchen staff, apparently); I don't just mean Michelle immediately turning into a sniveling hysterical wreck, despite the fact that she could probably wrestle a marauding thug to the ground with one hand and not spill her Babycham.  I don't even mean Daniel saying Back To The Future III was the best of the trilogy, even though no-one with any sense - and certainly not someone with the intellect of Daniel - would ever think that.

My main problem with this storyline was that it was based on a narrative untruth.  Apparently Robert was, at one point in his life, a rampant coke head, and I refuse to believe this is even slightly true.

Robert Preston is the most boring character in Coronation Street and remember, this is a cast that includes Ken Barlow.  I do not believe that Robert has ever done anything as interesting as snort some blow.  I don't believe Robert has done anything as interesting as leaving the immersion on overnight.

Boring can be fine.  He used to be boring in a perfectly acceptable way.  Robert first came into the show as a teenage carpet fitter who fell in love with Tracy Barlow.  This was v3 Tracy, so that wasn't quite as hard to believe as it would be in 2017 (although she was already a kidney thief at that point).  The pair married in 1996, with Tracy wearing a charity shop dress and Doc Martens, because that was what everyone was wearing in 1996.  Even the boys.  Robert, for his part, wore a dull but respectable suit that reflected his personality.  The two of them then moved to London and vanished for years, only returning to Weatherfield for the odd party.  He was nice and reliable and perfectly acceptable as a beau for Miss Barlow.

Finally Tracy - having morphed into her final form, a demon Gorgon intent on wreaking havoc across the cosmos - left Robert and moved back to t'North.  They got a divorce, and he quietly disappeared into Tracy's past, one of those bits of her history that never got mentioned - like the time she ran away to visit Susan Barlow in Newcastle, or the time she murdered her boyfriend in cold blood and then, somehow, got away with it.

Robert made a return for Deirdre's funeral, and he'd had a morph of his own.  Instead of being the ordinary, perfectly pleasant looking young man we'd last seen in 2002, Robert Preston had turned into a "hunk".  Suddenly he was six foot something, dark and brooding and ready to make the ladies swoon.  In theory, anyway.  The truth is that Robert is missing that indefinable spark that makes him actually sexy.  He's undeniably good looking - he looks like an Action Man carved out of granite - but he's not got that oomph.  Peter Barlow and Gary Windass have that oomph, despite being, respectively, a slightly chubby fifty-something and a ginger with a broken nose.  They're sexy.  Robert is just... handsome.  Handsome but dull.


Still, Tracy seemed keen to start all over again with him, despite not showing even the slightest inkling to rekindle their romance in the thirteen years since she dumped him.  They were soon getting hot and heavy on that uncomfortable looking sofa in Ken's back room, and then Robert was moving in with her, abandoning his wife Sarah Harding Joni for a bit of Barlow.  It seemed that since living with Tracy he'd retrained as a highly talented professional chef, despite, as Tracy recalled, not being able to boil an egg when they were together.

Yes, in the 13 years between his two appearances, Robert had discovered a deep and abiding love of food that caused him to carve out an entirely new career.  And what do you know, just as Robert became unemployed from his last job, Leanne and Nick were looking for a new chef for the Bistro.  What are the chances of that happening?

But of course, that wasn't all he was doing in those 13 years.  We now learn that he spent much of that time out of his head on scag.  Remember, we've seen Robert as a young man (when he looked like Julian Kay) and we've seen Robert in middle age (when he looked like Tristan Gemmill).  You can draw a straight line from nice but dull carpet fitter Robert to nice but dull chef Robert.  Apparently, that's all wrong, and for some reason he went mad in his thirties.  This would admittedly explain why he married human lump of wood Sarah Harding, but really?  Try and picture a thirty-something Robert off his nut on Colombian marching powder, bouncing off the walls of a club and speaking nineteen to the dozen.  You can't, can you?


That's because Robert is just so boring.  He's bland.  He's white bread.  I could imagine Robert, perhaps, at one point, having too many pints of Carling (definitely Carling) and vomiting outside a kebab shop, but it would have to be a special occasion.  And the next morning he'd have had a roaring hangover and sworn never to do that again and he'd actually never do it again.  I can't imagine Robert having the hedonistic wild side that would let him abandon his thoughts and emotions to the influence of psychoactive substances.

Rich the drug dealer threatened to tell Michelle about "Catherine" in last night's show; presumably this is some poor moll he got high with who died - I'm imagining something like camp classic Desperate Lives, where Helen Hunt tries drugs for the first time and then immediately throws herself out of a window.  A girlfriend who died in tragic circumstances; another contrived attempt to make Robert something resembling an interesting character.  He'll have to have packed a lot more into those thirteen years away from the Street than a bit of a drug habit to make me even sit up in my chair.  I look forward to future storylines about his time as the bassist in Metallica, his Formula 1 wins, and his year as the sexual plaything of Sharon Stone.  And then I'll shrug and wait for a more interesting character to turn up.

By @merseytart




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18 comments:

@i_am_kenbarlow said...

He can't be that boring.

He's pulled a bird from Girls Aloud and a bird from Hear'say.

Maybe his drug habit came during his Atomic Kitten phase with Kerry Katona?

boris the spider said...

The problem with Robert is that the actor is dead behind the eyes. You watch him closely, he has absolutely no expression in his eyes at all. At any time. And that's why he's boring, dull, uninteresting and emotionless.

Anonymous said...

Too funny and so true. Time for him to go. Dead wood IMO.

Flo said...

ROFL!

Abercrombie said...

Funny blog, Scott, your sense of humour is immaculate! Ok, so he is boring according to a lot of bloggers but why is it boring to be straight and honest and not play games? And, more importantly, keep scheming Michelle in her place for once.

Sophie Bird said...

Peter Barlow isn't chubby.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Hilarious blog! Scott, we've missed you! There are lots of characters in Corrie who would fall flat if the actors didn't breathe some life into them. Unfortunately, Robert isn't played by one of those actors. He's knitting magazine handsome and would probably look wonderful in chunky beige. Roll on end of story.

Tvor said...

Superb and 100% true. If we had not known Robert earlier when he married Tracy, if he was a brand new character on a blank slate, *maybe* I could believe it, just maybe, but no. not at all. It would make more sense if Joni had turned out to be the cokehead.

Anonymous said...

Humpty Dumpty that is the most savage, but painfully accurate description of him i've seen. Unfortunately I think the new producer is a fan, so I expect we'll be seen far more of him.

Maricha said...

I agree.

Maricha said...

Thanks Scott, this was a great character analysis. However, I can totally see Robert taking coke albeit for a completely boring reason: to be competitive as a chef.
Going from carpet fitter to chef to restaurant owner in London in 13 years or less is actually a pretty fast progression in a cutthroat industry. Some marching powder may have been involved either to boost Robert's energy, finance his endeavors or do both.

abbyk said...

To me, Robert isn't boring, he's just a normal person on a street full of folks with exaggerated personalities or personality flaws. He is the current Emily Bishop. We don't know much about him because he has no friends, other than Miss Crossed Arms, so we never get to see anything but his work facade, which is reserved and professional. Before passing judgement, I'd like to see him make a pal and open up. Daniel looks like a good candidate.

Drug use in restaurants, not news. Rich was dishwasher who made a career move. Meh.

Tilly Flop said...

I thought "Catherine" was their code name for coke, not an ex

Jen said...

I don't think he's as good looking as you make out and not as boring. So I disagree on both counts there.

Zagg said...

I think he's a pretty good actor actually. His problem on screen is down to rubbish dialogue and storylines. To say he is dead behind the eyes is just weird and kind of rude.
Tracey for the most part comes across as a fairly mundane actress. But when they give her a meaty storyline as they did with Rob, she was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Chill Zagg, you must be American or something...very pc.....here in the UK "dead behind the eyes" is a common phrase, not weird or rude at all and Boris is quite right, it fits Robert exactly.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with your comments

Zagg said...

Being PC or supposedly American (WTH?) has nothing to do with it. I'm just more civilized.

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