Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Silence of the Cheryl

Anyone who watched the latest series of Doctor Who will know about the Silence: a race of creepy aliens who only exist when you are looking at them.  You can chat to one for hours on end, and the minute you turn your back, they are forgotten.

Steven Moffat has got a lot of kudos for this brilliant idea.  However, it's one that Corrie has successfully used itself for the past year.  Except their version is called Cheryl.

Cheryl is almost completely forgettable.  It's fascinating to see her turn up on screen, because every single time you ask yourself, "who's that?".  Barney, David Platt's rabbit, had a greater impact on the Street and its history, and he's been dead for ten years.

She first entered the show as a friend of Leanne's from their escort days.  Like Leanne, she's moved up in the world, though while Ms Battersby had found herself a fiance and a business, Cheryl had become a lap dancer.  Not so much a step up as a leg up.  StreetCars got a contract with Cheryl's club to ferry tired businessmen back to their hotels in time to tell their wives they really loved them, and soon Lloyd was becoming besotted by the lady of the night.

What followed was a low-rent version of Mona Lisa, the classic 1986 British film.  Bob Hoskins was nominated for an Oscar for his part in the film; the Corrie version had Lister from Red Dwarf instead, so you can imagine how well that turned out. The Weatherfield version shied away from giving Cheryl an underage lesbian lover, and instead gave her a dodgy husband and an irritating child.

Within weeks she was sporting a black eye, courtesy of husband Chris, and she was sleeping on Lloyd's sofa.  Why she ran to Lloyd (a man who was clearly obsessed with her) instead of, for example, Leanne Battersby, or perhaps any other humanoid in the solar system, was never made clear; all we knew was that in her time of need Lloyd was there for her, putting her up rent free and making puppy dog eyes in her direction, which she blatantly ignored.

Dev gave her a job in the kebab shop; her years of sex work had given her a great deal of experience in handling rancid meat.  She paused in her work at giving bits of dodgy beef to Jason Grimshaw only to bawl abuse at her ex-husband, who'd taken work with Owen the builder, and who kept coming into the kebab shop and making threatening gestures with a Doner.  During all this, Cheryl slept with Lloyd, because the best way to keep a man at arm's length is to get underneath him.  She claimed it was a mistake and she should never have done it, but at some point changed her mind and moved into his bed permanently; we were never told why she relented, so I've assumed Lloyd used Jedi mind tricks.

Soon Cheryl wanted to do more than just ask people if they wanted salt on that, so she did what any forthright career minded girl would do: she got her boyfriend to give her a job.  She elbowed Eileen off the switch in the cab office and was soon redecorating the place to her own vision; it seems that public transport's gain was interior design's loss.  Fat Brenda's views on the new pastel coloured walls and soft furnishings remain, sadly, unrecorded.

Throughout her onscreen appearances, Cheryl managed to display zero charisma, charm or personality; when Chris and Lloyd began fighting over her, their fellow punters in the bar spent most of the time asking "who?".  The intervention of a tram into the Joinery was all that stopped the two men from beating each other to death in the most pointless battle since the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Chris moved onto Maria, while routinely glowering in Lloyd's direction, often with his shirt off.  While he acted with his pecs, Cheryl chose to act with her hair, and her joyously curly tresses are the most interesting thing about her.  In fact, there are rumours that Phil Collinson is negotiating with the hair to continue its role on the Street after Holly Quin-Ankrah leaves.

Now that she had her claws into Lloyd, Cheryl was able to reveal her true, shrew-like personality.  It had been kept relatively under wraps before because (a) no-one likes to be harangued by a stripper and (b) Chris threatened to belt her every time she got uppity, but now she was able to unleash the full force of her Hyacinth Bucket pretensions.  She dismissed Sally Webster's taste in decorating, pushed her son Russ into the school production like Dina Lohan on uppers, and forced Lloyd to buy the shell of number 13.  She conveniently overlooked the fact that her son nearly burned to death in the same house on the night of the tram crash; presumably his psychological well-being is less important than a through lounge.

She's now manageress of Nick's Bistro, once again proving that prostitute and restauranteur are all part of the same service industry.  Gail was keen to take the role, but Nick felt that her years owning and running her own cafe were insufficient experience for such a demanding job; besides, Cheryl did a trick with some ping pong balls at the interview and he was sold.

The recent announcement that Cheryl's contract wasn't going to be renewed was met with bewilderment by Corrie fans, mainly because no-one realised she was an actress; most thought she was just a production assistant who read other people's lines when the proper actress didn't turn up.  She won't be missed.  In fact, give it a few minutes, and you'll forget she was even there.

20 comments:

Tvor said...

Thanks... my monitor did need cleaning ;)

wonderful stuff!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Well, I for one won't be missing...hmmmm..totally forgot.

Tvor said...

I don't think the writer has any grudge against the actress, but the Powers that Be just never seemed to really do much with the character and it seems as if they realize the character just isn't working.

Anonymous said...

Oh bloody brilliant! Thanks for the spot on analysis of this forgettable actress.....um, what's her name? Hope she takes Chris and the kid with her when she leaves. Let's have more Lloyd, Eileen and Steve in Streetcars' office....have missed them so.

keithBC said...

Merseytart, you have a gift.

Flaming Nora said...

Bloody brilliant!

Anonymous said...

can she take Maria, Tracy and Becky with her, please?

Anonymous said...

I think they could've done a lot with that character. The writers dropped the ball completely especially with Chris, the abusive wive-beater suddenly transforming into a nice guy (WTF?).

Someone said that the Corrie writers just don't know what to do with 'black' female characters and I think it's true...

Humpty Dumpty said...

Brilliant, loved this blog! Some characters, like Cheryl, work at a very minor level,but don't have the depth to do much more. Attractive and brought in to please the eye - but can't act for toffee. Poor Cheryl, she's destined to become 'you know, the one who used to go out with what's-his-name from Red Dwarf.'

Anonymous said...

Spot on!!

Hayli

JaffaCakes said...

It took me forever to read this post, because I had to stop every few minutes to read a paragraph or two out loud to my husband. Wonderfully funny writing; keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I sense a promotion coming for Gail... perhaps she can get some tips from Leanne - another gal whose demonstrated that prostitute and restauranteur are the same skill set. ;)

Llywela said...

Haaaaaaaa! Love it!

It's a shame, really, because when you stop and really, really think about it, you can see where they tried hard to give Cheryl a personality. It's in the little moments, like when she totally blanked Peter at the Joinery opening because she'd remembered at the last moment that she shouldn't be offering him alcohol but was already holding the tray out and didn't know how to handle it, so just turned tail and ran. Or the other week when Dev's credit card was refused and Cheryl showed no tact or discretion in dealing with the incident at all. It's in her desperation to be seen as more capable and accomplished than she really is - seen in the throwaway moments where she is anxious to take credit for tiny, insignificant details she has overseen at the Bistro, or the larger scene where she totally dissed Sally Webster's house in an attempt to seem sophisticated. It's in her jealousy of Leanne, who is a lot brighter and more naturally talented than Cheryl can ever hope to be.

So the attempt to give her a personality has been there in the writing...it just hasn't worked, I think because the actress is so bland.

And now she is being written out and all I can think is: what a waste of number 13! They should have had the Junior Barlows buy the house instead.

Frosty the Snowman said...

Great write-up. Cheryl is tall, young(ish) and quite attractive so its strange as to why she is so forgettable and bland as a character. Her son seemed as gormless as they come, what happened to the story that he was to be the brilliant gifted child? Another one that was seemingly dropped and forgotton. Scary looking Chris never gelled either no matter how many times he took his shirt off, or how he was "there" for Maria, we could never forgot how he gave Cheryl that shiner and burgled Janis's house. A family that wont be missed or even remembered.

Llywela said...

re: Russ, I never thought we were seriously supposed to believe he was a brilliant, gifted child - we only ever heard Cheryl's interpretation of that conversation and I'd bet any money the head told her that Russ was under-achieving and needed extra tuition, but dressed it up to sound good by saying that he is sure Russ is a very clever boy who just hasn't been taught right, or something along those lines, and Cheryl latched on to the latter part.

It was never a story about the children, really - it was a story about the insecurities of the two mothers. It is weird, though, how it was raised and then totally dropped and left hanging, unresolved - completely pointless it if wasn't going to go somewhere.

Anonymous said...

sorry but i will miss the new arrivals on corrie tonight leeanne and Peter and Simon will get such a sock because Leeanne's birth mother will be joining the cast of cornation street

Dolly Tubb said...

Reeeeelly, reeeeeelly funny, Merseytart!

I guess that as the family is now leaving there will be no effort made to tie up loose ends (wife beater, robber, gifted child).

This piece just sums it all up!

Craig said...

Very astute observation. Few characters could have entered the show with such a bang spending most of her early scenes in her underwear just to peter out to utter insignificance as she has.

She may or may not have had the best of stories, but to be honest the girl can't really act god love her. Not that this has stopped Maria putting in a good decade on the Street of course.

Yoork said...

"Dev gave her a job in the kebab shop; her years of sex work had given her a great deal of experience in handling rancid meat. "

Bahahaha, that made me laugh.

gab said...

very good completely agreed-she hasnt made an impact at all and lloyd is actually quite dull when with her

i know ehs leaving for a while to do red dwarf so i assume she leaves the same time

just bring lloyd back a bit more witty please corrie

and yeah can she take maria and tracy with her

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