Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Battersby devil you know

As Leanne Battersby floats around Weatherfield, teary eyed, torn between two lovers (feelin' like a fool), it's hard for us viewers not to sympathise with her.  She's a lovely girl, and deserves to be happy.

How quickly we forget.  Leanne clattered into the Street in 1997 as a purple-haired, thieving ball of anger and violence, wearing crop tops and mini-skirts - Slapper Spice, if you will.  The Battersbys were Corrie's version of Emmerdale's Dingles, a batch of scraggy, screwed-up misfits whose entire purpose was to wind up the rest of the Street.  If they'd arrived twenty years earlier, Ivy Tilsley would have been stood on her doorstep in a cross-over pinny, pursing her lips and calling them no better than they should be; as it was we were left with Ken Barlow sighing and biting the end of his glasses in exasperation.

Leanne was a particularly unpleasant trollop.  While Toyah had secret reserves of heart and brains, Leanne was sharp as flint and unashamedly manipulative.  She clattered into Nicky Tilsley (v. 2.0), attracted to his washboard abs and lack of mental faculties, and soon they were hightailing it to Gretna Green to get married.  They returned to join Ashley in number 4, that weird ragbag of young house mates that were part of the Street's attempt to be all Millennial and with-it.  Scenes in the house were mostly notable for being played against eye-searing wallpaper in loud clothing, interspersed with shouting and screaming and Nicky taking his shirt off; after all that we were quite glad when the show cut to Norris Cole whinging about his bunions.


Leanne became pregnant, following the soap law that no-one under the age of 20 has ever been shown that video of Claire Rayner putting a condom on a cucumber; she thought it would cement her relationship with Nicky, but the idea of being tied into the Battersby family until the end of time was too much for him and he pressured her into an abortion.  It signalled the beginning of the end for their relationship, not helped by Gail hovering behind Nicky and being so overprotective it made the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats.  Since his choice was a life with a girl who looked like a member of Vanilla (the worst girl band ever) or Diana Rigg in Mother Love, Nicky did the only sensible thing and fled to Canada.

Leanne's heartbreak was soon quashed by a two thousand pound pay off from Gail.  This went straight up her nose, as she developed one of those instant cocaine habits that only exist in soaps.  If cocaine really was as freely available and addictive as our nation's continuing dramas would have us believe, you'd have to shake the drug off every tenner in your wallet.  Hamstrung by the fact that Ofcom won't let you actually snort coke before nine pm, Leanne was left wandering around the set looking wide eyed and slightly more scraggy than usual, which is to say, very scraggy indeed.  She finally ended up being beaten up and put in hospital and fled to London to be a policewoman at Sun Hill.


Her return to the show a few years later was as a stripper, accidentally performing for her Dad; Les's "get them out for the lads!" attitude took a sudden turn to the puritan, and he hauled her back to Coronation Street.  She moved in with demonic Hobbit Janice, and the two of them formed a vortice of spite, circling Underworld with tongues sharper than a samurai sword.  Leanne finally got her claws into Danny Baldwin and they started their own game of The Chase, with the top prize being Mike Baldwin's will.  Having an affair with a married man (while simultaneously sleeping with his son) and then swindling a man suffering from Alzheimer's did nothing for her reputation as a stand-up citizen.  Just when you thought she couldn't get any lower, she burrowed through the cobbles and found a new level of horrible behaviour, turning on Danny and blackmailing him, then turning him in when he refused to pay her.  She was eventually driven out of town to clean some of the poison out of her system.


The real reason for her disappearance was that Jane Danson was off having a baby, something you may have been clued into if you'd spotted all the times she walked around Underworld with a massive clipboard in front of her stomach.  It's an irony of the show that the thoroughly nasty Leanne is played by the utterly lovely Jane who is, by all reports, a delight to be around.  I can't quite love her unreservedly, because in real life she's married to Peter from Brookside (Robert Beck), a man who played quite a prominent role in my teenage sexuality, and so my happiness for her is tinged with intense jealousy.

When Jane had finished dropping her sprog, Leanne was ready to return to the Street, this time gussied up in power suits and flashing her wallet around.  Janice, who is impressed by anyone who's able to iron their clothes before they put them on, was soon following her around devotedly.  Her devotion took a bit of a hit when she discovered that Leanne was, in fact, a whore.  It seemed that after years of handing herself out on a plate for free, Ms Battersby had finally clicked that she could make a few bob out of it, and was now a high-class escort.  Well, as high-class as Leanne could ever get.

By this time, Underworld had a new owner, and soon she was in bed with gruff Manc hearthrob Liam Connor.  This proved awkward when she turned up for a client and it turned out to be his brother Paul.  She gave up the hooking after that, parleying her hostess skills into the rather more wholesome role of restaurant owner.  All was going well until Paul Connor had a mental breakdown, locked her in the boot of his car and then smashed it into a truck; experts have termed this storyline as "bonkers" and it tends to be glossed over these days.

Leanne was left lumbered with a failing restaurant.  Now that the whole neighbourhood knew how she'd got the money to buy it, no-one was very keen to sample her dough balls, and she was up to her elbows in debt.  A normal person would declare bankruptcy, or go to their creditors for a bridging agreement; Leanne decided to seduce a minor Duckworth into burning the thing to the ground for the insurance.  Say what you like about her, she never does things by half.

She dragged herself from the flaming wreckage, dusted the soot out of her hair, and set about a relationship with Peter Barlow.  An alcoholic bigamist and a criminal prostitute - it was a relationship crafted by the Gods, and soon they were engaged.  Leanne's propensity for self-sacrifice meant she couldn't stop herself from rekindling her romance with Nick(y) (v. 3.0), mainly by having mucky sex on the ground of the Bistro while pretending to be doing a stock take.  She put the affair to one side in time for a tram to fall on Peter's head; their tender wedding took place against the beep of life support machines rather than church bells, but at least she was an honest to goodness married woman now, and her rehabilitation began.

As it turned out, when you gave Leanne a chance, she could actually be a perfectly decent, almost pleasant human being.  Being in close contact with Simon Barlow obviously helped; it is surely impossible to be nasty around The World's Cutest Child.  Joining the Barlow family made her look better by association; next to the heinous tornado of spite that is Tracy, Leanne looked like Princess Diana.  She also acquired a mother at this time, the quasi-Northern Stella; we all tried hard to put the image of Les Battersby grunting away on top of the fragrant Michelle Collins out of our head, but it kept coming back, unbidden.  Poor Michelle - the only woman to be knocked up by both a Battersby and Ian Beale.  Presumably when she's finished on Corrie she'll move over to Emmerdale  to have a baby with Eric Pollard.

Leanne was initially troubled by her new mother, not least because she looked an awful lot like Cindy Beale.  She eventually came round when she realised she had literally no other relatives left within a two hundred mile radius; plus Stella owned a pub, so she was always guaranteed a job if (/when) things got tough.  She also acquired a half-sister, Eva, who proved that being devious and self-interested is clearly a genetic trait as she could give Leanne a run for her money on that score.


Peter finally abandoned Leanne for Carla Connor; I know we should judge him for this, but it's Carla, the most awesome woman to clatter down the cobbles in stilettos, so it's hard to be too cruel.  Leanne responded by returning to her vindictive ways, passing Simon back and forth between them and whispering bile in his ear on every visit.  It culminated in Simon being dropped in the middle of Victoria station and being asked to run to whichever parent he liked most, like he was a cocker spaniel on the common.  Leanne won that battle, and Peter vanished to California; he returned at Christmas to interfere with her attempt to become a Tilsley for the second time.  Frankly he should be rewarded for that alone.

Now Leanne's bouncing round the Street, looking desperate and arranging weddings without any certainty that the groom will turn up; it's nice to know that she can still be stupidly rash when she wants to be.  I love Leanne, even if she's had most of her hard edges knocked off her - I liked her best as a prostitute, because who doesn't love a tart with a heart of gold?  I can't imagine where her life on the Street will take her next; I hope it involves burning the bookies down for the insurance, not least because its decor is a nightmare (what's with those weird origami shapes on the back wall?).  Good luck Leanne; you'll probably need it.

Follow the Coronation Street Blog on Twitter and Facebook

Creative Commons Licence
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

14 comments:

Flaming Nora said...

Brilliant!

Tvor said...

Bwahahahaha!!!! Best. Ever!

bbhilda said...

Loved it! Thank you.

Graeme N said...


That really made me laugh!

Mrs Barton said...

I love this. Also wish I wasn't so much in the habit of shouting all of the above shades of dubiousness at Leanne every time her holier than thou face comes out. YOU TART LEANNE! <3

vicky said...

LOVED this. Reading it reminds me of how much I used to like Leanne, before she became a devoted wife and mother (snooze). Perhaps it's the fact that I can remember her wild days that makes me roll her eyes when she complains about being cheated on or Peter being unreliable or whatever. I mean I can't remember the last time she criticised someone for something and I didn't find myself thinking "but you've done that yourself!"

If she is going away for a bit, I hope the writers can think of something to do with her that can find a happy middle ground between the sparky, fun character she used to be and the sour-faced self-righteous woman she's become now. AND BURN THAT RED COAT.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Brilliant! I think Leanne would benefit from the return of either Janice or Toyah. I'm rather hoping under the new regime that Stella will be axed and that would leave Leanne in desperate need of an ally. Janice would make a marvellous Gran for Simon. I'm not usually in favour of returnees but it would give Leanne the chance to perhaps open a shop, giving her a new direction. Anything that didn't involved affairs or babies.

Clinkers (David) said...

Laughing like a loony at this! great blog Scott.

Billy Niblick said...

Terrific Blog entry. Thanks very much for that.

Anonymous said...

Fantabulous! Precisely why I love this character, and she's a Corrie stalwart.

Jackie said...

Brilliant post!!!!

I definitely preferred Leanne when she was a prostitute. I don't want to watch her bouncing between Nick and Peter anymore.

Give her a storyline away from them!

Anonymous said...

Me thinks that Leanne has changed physically over the years, as I honestly thought for a mo' that it was Sophie standing up there with the original Nick!

Anonymous said...

What, Sophie is way prettier than Leanne ever was :O

njblas said...

Wonderful writing Scott - as always!!

You might also like...