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Saturday 23 February 2013

Ida Clough & Harry Flagg

No, don't worry. This isn't the greatest love story never told on t'cobbles. Indeed, this next section of waffle is not particularly about them either. It's more about the type of character they represented. Both Ida and Harry were good examples of Street folk who, although they were not just background faces, were never going to get a lead story.

Peering down the years at Corrie's rich and varied history, it seems that there used to be a place for the characters wheeled on merely to flesh out a scene. For viewers of a certain age, memories of Edna Gee, the nascent Ivy 'Tyldesley' and Vera Duckworth were always there or thereabouts. If a scene needed that rent-a-mob feel, there they were. This always felt realistic to the junior me.

After all, not everyone is a major player in everyone else's lives. Some faces we see now and then. They are not major friends and comrades but they still play a part. The Street always seemed to do this well. of course, some characters did get their chance to shine. Gail certainly spent a couple of years shuffling around in her sheepskin coat doing very little prior to escaping the confines of her friendship with Trisha.

For some though, there were never to be any major defining storylines. Phyllis Pearce soldiered on for well over a decade, dispensing wonderful one-liners and assisting in the café. She was a confident of Gail, Alma and Des Barnes. Phyllis never had to deal with arsonists, runaway vehicles or long-lost children. Yet she was still integral to the Weatherfield story.

Joyce Smedley (remember her?) was another who glided through our subconscious minds during the mid-1990s. She was Judy Mallet's mother, a dog-loving , light-fingered barmaid who eventually perished in a hit-and-run accident. We probably didn't miss her but she had provided sterling service, adding meat to the bones of the Mallet family.

Ida Clough was, at the best of times, a rancorous old bat. She was the militant (well, for Weatherfield) shop steward, forever threatening a strike and hectoring all around her. Ida had, from memory, a couple of comedy children who serviced a few storylines and were then forgotten. As for Ida, she managed to survive through to the early days of Underworld, yet the character was never really developed over a period of twenty years. Ida Clough - support act. A welcome one though.

As for Harry Flagg? He bobbed around as Rovers' cleaner and potman for a couple of years, chipping in here and there with a comment but never pushing his way to the front of the crowd. Inoffensive, pleasant and mild. He disappeared and that was that.

There seems to be little place for the supporting character in the twenty first century Street. Everyone seems to be beating a path to the front of the queue. Some fall by the wayside (steer yourselves around the forgotten carcasses of Lauren Wilson, Umed Alahan, Warren Baldwin) but few have a tendency to stay around and do an 'Ida'. Is there no place for such a character these days? We don't particularly need them to light up the screen with a stellar performance each week but they should be on hand to nod, laugh and offer wise words. Sometimes.

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Tvor said...

You're right about that, and for much of her stint on Corrie, Betty was like that too. A supporting player, especially in the last 15 years or so. A supporting player we all miss very much. Mary is much like that now as long as they can keep her quirky and not mad, bad and dangerous to know. Yana was another one that was a great supporting player.

Janice said...

Many of the older characters are that now. Rita, Dennis, Norris, Mary, Emily, Sean have had no major storylines for years.

Glenda Young said...

Lovely post david, spot on too as always.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I suppose we're so used to characters having a 'point' that everyone's got to have a story. Katy was fine as a supporting actor but really not up to taking on a central role.

Anonymous said...

Kirk in a nut shell

Anonymous said...

I loved Phyllis Pearce. Now Rita is in it less, it seems to me that the role of an older confident is lacking. As the elderly are virtually invisible on British TV, unless they are dribbling, it would be nice to have a wise, older character on the Street. St Ella doesn't cut it.

njblas said...

Dr Matt Carter is something of an 'Ida' I suppose - he just pops up sporadically to dispense medical advice. Apart from a dull romance with Tina, he's never had much opportunity to show us what he's made of. Personally, I'd be happy to see a LOT more of him:) I just read that Catherine Tyldesley has suggested him as an ideal love interest for her character Eva. Bring it on I say!!

Barrie.T said...

Kirk, norris and emily and Sean haven't had a storyline for years. Kirk and Sean are the padding for the factory workers. Even Beth hasn't done much. Emily is just there to roll her eyes everytime norris puts his foot in it.


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