Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Men of Coronation Street - Then and Now


One criticism I do have about the 21st Century Coronation Street is the apparent reliance on casting supposedly good looking younger actors regardless of the role they are required to play. I'm nudging and pointing at the fairly recent additions of Ryan Connor (II) and Carla's brother, Rob Donovan. I am sure they are both perfectly nice guys, but so far their characters have both been hugely lacking. For me, the alarm bell was ringing as soon as those publicity photographs of them in the boxing ring surfaced. What was that all about? Personally, I'd have backed Elsie and Ena in the ring over those two any day!

This all got me thinking of how times have changed. The past twenty years or so has certainly seen a marked increase in these kind of casting announcements, although I think the current trend really began with the arrival of Adam Rickett as Nick(y) Tilsley. Remember him?? However, it wasn't always this way. Who were the Coronation Street pin ups in the early days of the show? Was there a Tommy, Ryan or Jason for the 1960s audience? Let's see how they compared.


I suppose we have to start with the Peter Pan of Weatherfield, Mr Kenneth Barlow. The original Corrie youth, he did rebel against his family and fought for what he wanted out of life. He also had more than his fair share of the ladies (and continues to do so). However, could he really be considered an early Corrie pin up? I have my doubts. Ken was soon married off, although that didn't stop him creeping down the ginnel for assignations with, well, anybody. He was also a bookish intellectual, leading mother-in-law Blanche to describe him once as "the poor-man's Melvyn Bragg." Enough said.


So who else was there? The original Street bad boy Dennis Tanner, as portrayed by Philip Lowrie. When we first met Dennis he was giving Mum Elsie cheek, while also revealing he had recently been in prison. This is more like it. However Dennis quickly became a comedic character, dabbling in show business. Perhaps now they are married Rita can go back to t'Gatsby with Dennis as her agent? That would give him a job, as the powers that be are obviously so keen for him to have one! Sorry, he is ruled out for that bathing in front of his mother thing. Who would do that? 

There was also Len Fairclough. A real rough diamond. A man's man. Builder Len was popular with the Street ladies, from Bet Lynch and Elsie Tanner to the woman who eventually tried to tame him, Rita Littlewood. As macho and brutish as Len undoubtedly was, we never saw him without his vest, and quite rightly so. I don't think we would ever have seen Len doing a spread for Attitude magazine. Moving on!

Finally, there was of course Ray Langton. Watching old episodes, I have grown quite fond of our Raymond. He first appeared in Corrie as a delinquent in the mid-60s before returning and becoming a more responsible, if still wise-cracking character. Ray did indeed have quite  a twinkle in his eye back in the day, however there is one thing he cannot be forgiven for, ever. He will always be partially responsible for the monster that is Tracy Barlow. That certainly knocks a couple of points off as far as I'm concerned!

So what are your views on the casting of today's Street hunks? Do you have a particular favourite or someone you cannot abide? And how do you think this has changed since the early days of Corrie? 


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11 comments:

Tvor said...

The actor that played Brian Tilsley was cast for his looks back in the late 70s to try to bring in the young women. He certainly wasn't cast for his acting ability. But you're right. Casting for looks has mostly been an utter failure for me though I have to say Ryan Thomas has grown quite nicely into Jason for me.

Graeme N said...


Brian was always pretty wooden, it never seemed to improve did it?! I agree with you about Jason - he has got better as he's progressed.

Anonymous said...

This is something that has changed as men have become sex objects in the way that women always were. Soaps are now intended to appeal to women, so it's almost obligatory for these guys to be unable to find their shirt in the morning.

Producers are living in the past, if not cloud cuckoo land. If you want to see shirtless hunks, they are not difficult to find on the internet. I can't imagine anyone sitting through 150 mins a week on the off chance they might see a bit of man flesh. Try good stories, good characters and good acting for a change.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I don't mind people being cast for their looks, provided they can act. Steve was quite appealing when he was younger and his acting has also improved with age with a nice line in comedy.

Corrie has always brought people in for how they look and sound eg Vera and Jack. The difference is these days characters get major storylines straightaway and then can't do them justice.

abbyk said...

To be fair, the younger ladies hired are at least above average in looks as well. Catherine T. wasn't working when her weight was up. No one on the street has bad teeth or skin. No surprise.

Jason's always been an ornament, but a very decent one, with lovely sparks of wisdom and kindness. I hope someone on the writing team remembers that it was Bill Webster who trained him up. It would be nice to see him back to mentor Jason as he starts out on his own.

Janice said...

Dev was originally eye-candy. He used to take his shirt off and show off his hairy chest. My, the years have been unkind. David was never much to look at and his acting is never awards-worthy. I'd like to see him leave when the new producer takes over. Despite that I think Corrie has remained to its formula:weak men and strong women.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, Marcus is THE current Street hottie! Appealing to all ages, genders and types, it is lovely that this character has been allowed to develop and I hope we only see more and more of what makes Marcus tick. I truly wish the other attractive characters on the Street were written with the same care, as their lack of dimension certainly makes it difficult to really appreciate them outside of their looks. A great positive example is the recent development of Kylie, in demonstrating her leadership and business skills succeeding at the Bistro.

Although I wasn't watching in the early years, I've always thought of Ken Barlow as a frustrated intellectual, looking down on others rather than being a hottie. Dennis in that tub has always creeped me out. Never mind he's wearing pants and they didn't have a proper toilet in those days, an adult male should not bathe while his mother sits nearby, watching on. The photo of that Ray fella seems to show a man with a body and come-hither look that qualifies as beef cake. I don't think we should blame him for the mistake that is Tracy; remember that Dierdre is the bad egg there. However, she must have some magical powers 'cause she's won over some of the most eligible men on the Street, time and again. What was her mystique?

Llifon said...

Mike Baldwin and Billy Walker were seen as Lotharios in their day.

Anonymous said...

IMO the one character that has been totally destroyed by the writer is Kevin Webster. He has become a non character or just a prop that pops in now and then to say 'do one' or 'I don't give a monekys'. They never should have paired him up with the air-head Molly and then for him to be the father of baby Jack, his character was doomed ... no way back. I liked Kevin and he was alright in his own way, nice family etc but what do they do with him now? A half assed attempt at a storyline where he fancies a girl who fancies his daughter? I think Micheal deserves better than that.

Anonymous said...

They should have brought Adam Rickitt back as Nick Tillsley, the actor that's playing him, Ugh for looks and ability. Waiting for the air to blow him over everytime he crosses the street. As for Kevin going after the therapist, it's time for him to retire the cassanova part, it's old news and even Jack had to hang it up. She's not going to want an old man like him, time marched on and he wasn't looking.

Anonymous said...

Adam Rickitt would have been better than the current Nick, He looks like he will fall over crossing the street if a mild puff of air comes along and his looks, Ugh. As for Kevin falling for Sophie's therapist, she will not be interested in him he's too old. Time marched on and he didn't notice and as for being a cassanova, even Jack realized when the game was over.

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