Saturday, 12 January 2013

The end is nigh? This Corrie fan certainly hopes not

The very recent news that actress Julie Hesmondhalgh will sadly be leaving Coronation Street has upset the vast majority of Corrie fans. Hayley Cropper seems to represent a great deal of what is good about traditional Coronation Street, what it stands for and what it tries to represent. Not only that, Julie is also a terrific actress whenever she is given a chance to shine.

The news was a shock to me, although in retrospect the actress has taken quite a bit of time out lately so I guess the writing was maybe on the wall. Fair play to her for making this decision as I could see her longterm future on Corrie being safely assured. I have noticed a few comments in recent days where viewers have said they will stop watching the Street once Hayley leaves. This made me think back to times past when other popular, well-established names had announced they were leaving the cobbles for pastures new. 


Who can forget when Julie Goodyear announced she was leaving the role of Bet Lynch/Gilroy after a quarter of a century? I was similarly upset when Sarah Lancashire quit as dippy but loveable Raquel. I was a huge fan of Amanda Barrie's performances as Alma Halliwell and felt her departure in 2001 left a huge hole for a time. And while we miss characters like Jack and Vera Duckworth, Curly Watts and Betty Williams, the show does go on without them. It has often been said that Coronation Street is the real star, that the brand itself is so powerful that it will go on indefinitely regardless of who comes and goes. 

I do believe this to be true, but probably less so than say ten or twenty years ago. As someone said there are just fewer characters I care about or feel like investing time in these days. Many of the current Corrie cast could be fairly interchangeable with any in the other prime time British soap operas and to me, that's a huge shame. Looking back at some of the original Coronation Street characters created by Tony Warren you can see they really were originals. However as Coronation Street was a trailblazer, leading the way in this medium, it was always going to be the case that other drama serials would come along and copied the formula. 

In the early 1980s many commentators predicted the end of the Street as so many integral figures left. In a short space of time we lost the characters of Annie Walker, Len Fairclough, Albert Tatlock, Eddie Yeats, Stan Ogden, Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner. In a cast half the size of todays that's quite a blow. While initial attempts at new characters failed miserably (the Clayton family anybody?) things did eventually settle down. So while the loss of Hayley is terrible news, I still think there are enough vibrant, worthwhile characters to keep us engaged. Not as many as I'd like, but just enough!

So who would have to leave before I considered switching off? (Just so it's known, I would never switch over to one of the poorer imitations). Well, it will be a sad day when my favourite trio of ladies finally leave Weatherfield - Emily, Rita and Audrey really do keep me watching today. I also have a great deal of affection for Gail, Sally, Roy, Steve and Tyrone. And the reintroduction of Dennis has been superb. If several of these characters were to depart within a short space of time, I really would be concerned. 

As always I have questions to put to you: Who among the current Coronation Street cast would you struggle to do without? Would there ever come a time when you see yourself switching off as a result of a particular character departing? Do you think Corrie still has the nack of recruiting actors who can create classic Corrie characters? 

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think Coronation Street maybe a thing of the past once we have the departures of Ken, Deirdre, Emily, Rita, Dennis, Audrey and Gail as the streets link to the past will be gone forever. maybe I will but I can't acutally imagine myself watching the street once they all go :(

Humpty Dumpty said...

It's always been said that the Street is bigger than any of the characters, and I think that's still partly true. Unfortunately, at the moment, it's the charisma of certain individuals that keeps me hooked rather than the stories. It shouldn't be down to whether your favourite characters are still in the soap, though. Coronation Street is ensemble acting and while you may miss your favourites, there should be enough entertainment to make up for them.

Let's be realistic, looking ahead a few years, a number of the older generation are going to leave, one way or another, within a fairly short space of time. If I were the producer, I'd be making sure the 'middlies', like Gail, Peter, Sally were given super scripts to keep them and the audience engaged. If any of these characters were to be axed, that would really make me question my loyalty. What we urgently need is a diverse bunch of new writers.

David said...

Great post. We often hear that no one character is bigger than the show, which is true and I would never quit watching because of someone leaving, but there are a few characters who seem to take a part of the show away when they go.

Today the show has as many great characters as at any other time, but because of the size of the cast they're not always in the spotlight (and some hardly ever... given this week's news, I hope Sylvia returns soon and we get a full year of great Cropper action).

Janice said...

It isn't about the quality of actors but the scripts. Sorry but the real star is not the street which is a wooden facade. The problem is when the characters are written as wooden facades that I get turned off. Even Meryl Street could not breathe life into Carla or Leanne or Stella or Eileen. I care less and less what happens to them, no matter how 'explosive' the story. Lately the entertainment in this soap is laughing at how bad it is and sharing that sense with others. I no longer bother catching up on episodes when I go away. Same screamer still there yelling and pulling collars.

Anonymous said...

The entire Street would have to be blown to smithereens and what remains of the cast relocated to Jubilee Street before I'd consider turning it off. Even then I might consider watching on if the Street stayed bigger than any one character.

However, I agree with comments above that Corrie has suffered most from terrible writing over the past couple of years. In addition to a new producer, I wish, wish, wish there was a new team of writers heading up to the starting block. I suppose that's too much to ask? Despite the abundance of writers available in this economy.

Anonymous said...

I stopped watching when Karen McDonald, Suranne Jones, left. I only read the blogs nowadays for news and such. It will be almost 10 years since I regularly watched Coronation Street.

bbhilda said...

I too would never stop watching because one or two characters leave. It is the storylines and the quality of the writing that is the backbone of the whole thing. There are plenty of extremely talented actors out there that they haven't even recruited yet, so as long as the quality is maintained, they do their homework and not rewrite history (very important - it has a history like no other show, which needs to be given the utmost respect), then the viewers will remain loyal.

njblas said...

It's interesting which characters leave a gap once they're gone, while others who you like are not really missed as much as you would expect. I agree about Alma - I felt her departure tore a big chunk out of the heart of the Street. Others I missed when they left include Ivy, Percy and Phyllis...and Blanche of course.

Anonymous said...

I could never ever stop watching Coronation Street; I don't care who leaves; one character isn't enough to make a show and I love my Corrie.

Rachel said...

I thought I would miss Graham more than I have, I thought he would be the next Fred. I still miss Becky - I think it's the actor as much as the character.

Llifon said...

When the senior cast will leave, it will mean the last links of the past will be lost. But who knows? If it has survived without Elsie, Hilda, the Duckworths and Blanche, it can survive anything it seems.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I really don't see what the big fuss is about. Julie H has been off screen for months and is given minimal time - usually relegated to wandering around the faktry with a clip board muttering to herself so I can appreciate her wanting to move on. I hope she does well!!

Anonymous said...

October 16th 1995 was a sad day in my household when that taxi beeped its horn outside the rovers and Bet went off to find her sun. What followed was a couple of dodgy years of square dealers, baby buying, Natalie Horrocks and 'issue led' storylining, but the street recovered to a certain extent (although the rovers has never quite found a landlady to fill her stilletoes IMO). The loss of Hayley will be sad but providing she leaves in a plausible manner then we will all get over her departure and Roy will evolve into something different. Please don't have him shack up with Mary though!- Micky

Anonymous said...

You have hit the nail on the head by saying that it's what Hayley represents that makes the departure significant. Hayley is a moral character. Her unusual past makes her tolerant of others foibles, but you know she will always recommend doing the right thing. In a Street where even Betty's death had to be sensationalised with revelations of supressed wills and kleptomania, there is little room for Haley. After all, her wedding couldn't be dramatically halted by tales of secret adultery and love children.

With Haley, you know she won't judge or betray you, but she also won't lie and tell you what you want to hear. She's a rock. Like Emily, Rita, Audrey and many departed characters, you would like Haley as a friend. There are fewer and fewer characters like that.

Graeme N said...


Gosh you are right there! There may be a future blog on how many Coronation Street residents would you actually want as a friend! :)

Anonymous said...

I believe the sense that Hayley would make a genuine friend and the actress is a lovely person are the two reasons that Hayley's departure from the show is a big shock, despite the fact that she's been off screen for much of the past while. Added to the slim pickings of multifaceted characters left on the Street and there's a great nod in the direction the new producer should explore! No one wants to see Hayley in anything sensational because she's too real!

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