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Friday, 26 October 2012

The first Jewish character on Coronation Street?

Did anyone spot this lady in Corrie last week? She's Tracy Mellish and she had a fleeting performance in last Friday's episode where she played a character called Mrs Sampson, having her hair done in Audrey's salon.  As she was leaving the salon, David Platt wished her "a nice barmitzvah".

And now Tracy's hoping she'll be called back to Corrie to become the first Jewish character on Coronation Street.  

Tracy tells The Jewish Telegraph:  "I did not even know I would have a speaking part until I arrived on set. I have done some extra work on Coronation Street before and everyone is always so friendly. Jack asked me when I arrived on set if I was the Jewish character. I don't think they told me I had a speaking part until I was there because they did not want me to be nervous."

And Tracy says she would love Corrie bosses to introduce her as Corrie's first Jewish character.

She said: "If they are going to introduce a Jewish character, I want to be the person to play her. There are a lot of Jewish people in Manchester who watch Coronation Street and the writers have obviously thought about it as they had my character in the episode I appeared in. I would like the Jewish character to be comedic, light-hearted and glamorous." 

Louise Sutton, Corrie's series editor, is also Jewish. And in an interview with The Jewish Telegraph, she says: "There have never been - identifiable - Jewish characters on Coronation Street. That is a question I get asked the most by Jewish people. What we are is a character-led show, not an issue-led one, so I am not saying it will never happen. It is on my list - being Jewish is a big part of who I am."

Can anyone recall any other Jewish characters from Corrie's past?

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Humpty Dumpty said...

I'm not sure this counts as a Jewish character but I think the factory deals with a firm called Reubens, and that's a Jewish name. A little bit of sterotyping there, like the Alahan family and the corner shop, because of the connection between the rag trade and the Jewish community. But there again, it's only a stereotype because it's based on reality.

Annie said...

I don't want any characters in Corrie that define themselves by their religion... that's why I can't stand the Masoods in EastEnders. (Dot Cotton and Emily Bishop's christianity annoys me too)... let's have characters who are PEOPLE, not a "representative character"

Danny-K said...

Annie has it - what's the betting complaints come in from British ethnic Arabic communities (Wiki estimates half a million living in Britain, with 18,000 Iraqi's living in Manchester alone) that they are not represented fairly, with unfair representation given instead to blah, blah, etc., etc.,

- Unfounded given that Deidre once had a Moroccan husband - if a big fuss is made of Corrie's first Jewish character.

It's not important, to know that the leader of the opposition is Jewish, and potentially the next Prime Minister Britain could elect would be Jewish.

It's not important to know that as you listen to Vanessa Phelps on Radio 2 in the morning on the way to work that she's Jewish.

The producers risk opening a can of worms here. Unless it's IMPORTANT to a storyline that a charcter is portrayed as of Jewish descent, why mention it as important, or a big fuss made at all?

The Jewish Telegraph newspaper is already getting excited about it, with Ms Mellish saying:
"There have never been identifiable Jewish characters on Coronation Street".

Identifiable? Whatever does she mean? The mind boggles. Does she mean someone on the cobbles going round with questioning upturned palms, shrugging there shoulders and sighing: "Oi yia yia"?

abbyk said...

Well, I'm Jewish and I'm both excited to have someone I can identify with as well as apprehensive that the character will be as cartoonish and unbelievable as certain current characters and story lines have been over the past few years. Think about it. Lloyd is black, but that's not what's pounded into our faces; we know him as Steve's friend, a small business owner and an all around great guy, a full fledged person. Sean and Marcus are both gay; one could be anybody's good neighbor, an upstanding professional while the other is, well, Sean. I hope this new character is a decent Manchester citizen who also happens to be Jewish. Accept her the way David did. Toss in a line about a bacon butties if needed, but hold the caricature, please.

Anonymous said...

"What we are is a character-led show, not an issue-led one" ~ I'm sorry, what show has she been watching for the past two years??! I certainly hope she's had a chat with the new producer and reminded all the writers of this fact.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have a character-who-happens-to-be-Jewish as opposed to a Jewish character. Defining a character entirely by one trait always ends in a bad result. Just look at the terrible Sean who is a gay character as opposed to the wonderful Marcus who is a character-who-happens-to-be-gay.

Cobblestone said...

I wouldn't get too excited about this; I think it's a non-story. If they were going to have a Jewish character (and why not?) they would cast a professional actor. Supporting players (or 'extras') are in a very different category and very few ever make the leap from the background to princiipal character. If they're lucky they might get the odd line to deliver when exiting a shop (or salon), which bumps up their fee a little bit. After all, how many times have we seen an extra exit a shop or served with a pint and acknowledge the "Thanks very much Mrs So-&-so, see you again" with that peculiar, soundless bob of the head, as though they were channelling the Queen struck mute. That's because if they reply with so much as a 'ta, chuck', it bumps them into the next pay grade; they're told NOT to do it.

Most background artists do it as an enjoyable hobby. Jonathon Ross's mum did it for years. The reason it's very hard for them to make the leap is an inbuilt snobbery within the business - directors get to know extras by sight AS extras and in their minds that is what they do. They would never consider casting them in a featured role.
When I trained as an actor, we were told to avoid background work for this very reason, even though it would be far more enjoyable than office temping or shop work between acting jobs.

In short, then, I suspect this lady was given a brief line and is now fantasising about becoming a regular. Yes, Jack asked her if she was 'the Jewish character' because he had the bar mitsvah line in his script. That doesn't mean the PTB are developing a Jewish character, and if they were, they would cast it properly through the proper channels.

Tvor said...

Cobblestone you've probably nailed it.


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