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Friday 22 February 2013

In praise of Corrie's redheads

I think it's a particularly British thing, but historically, gingers have always been subjected to more mockery than most in television, film and all things cultural. I don't know why that is but most redheads have been on the receiving end of it at some point, myself included. 

Coronation Street however, stands tall as a safe haven for Northern gingers for generations. Let's look at some of my favourites.

The first redhead to grace Coronation Street, albeit initially in black and white, was that glorious femme fatale of the back street, Elsie Tanner. She was bold, brassy and no better than she ought to be, but we always loved her and took her side. We never quite knew how Elsie afforded her expensive tastes in clothes on her wages from Baldwin's Casuals or Jim's Cafe, but nobody really cared as that was Elsie. Many men were drawn by her fiery temperament, including Len Fairclough, Alan Howard and Bill Gregory. Slim pickings I know, but times were hard! She finally exited Weatherfield in a flourish, head held high as befits a classy ginger!

Our next prominent redhead is the Salford songbird herself, Rita Littlewood. A great rival for Elsie's crown as the Street's Queen ginger bee, Rita was initially much harder than the soft, grandmotherly character she has since become. She was a hothead, quick to shoot her mouth off and had obviously seen some life. Any woman capable of knocking Len Fairclough out cold is ok by me! As she softened and went through countless unsuitable, often deranged men, Rita began to take on increasingly bizarre shades of russet. This was often complemented by padded jumpers boasting beads and trinkets that these days would pose a health and safety risk to young children and would probably be banned by the EU. 

Rita is my all-time favourite Corrie redhead I must admit, despite introducing us to that ginger terror, Jenny Bradley. Jenny did boast a beautiful mane of red hair but that was seldom enough of a distraction from my desire to skull drag her up and down the cobbles. Lovely Liz McDonald was also originally a ginger. As the 1990s progressed, that ginger frizz became tighter and tighter until it exploded into an affair with Big Jim's physiotherapist. Since then Elizabeth's hair has featured more colours from the rainbow than even Zippy, Bungle and George had been used to. Enough to warrant a trip to the Big House if you ask me.

Fortunately, there is still a significant ginger presence in the Coronation Street of 2013. Rita's barnet is still a magnificent auburn hue despite her advancing years. All I can say is that Audrey Roberts works wonders. Maybe the fabulous Claudia Colby passed on some tips.

Of the younger Street residents there is of course Fiz Stape and her brother Chesney. Fiz, currently boasting a mane of ginger hair to make Rapunzel jealous, is hardly a shining example to redheads the world over. At least in baby Hope there is a chance of a better Corrie ginger generation in the years ahead. However given the parentage, one cannot be sure. And as for Chesney...well, all I can say is, poor Chesney! He's never been the same since Schmeichel. 

No, my favourite current Corrie redhead is none other than the lovely Gary Windass. Originally a bad lad capable of giving David Platt a run for his money, Gary has now settled down into a relationship with Izzy Armstrong. I do like this pairing and only hope they can survive the current surrogacy storyline which threatens to drag on until Rita finds a grey hair. What I like about Gary is that although he is a reformed character you know he is never far away from reverting to type. A complex character indeed - let's see more of Gary in the months ahead please. And yes, I mean that in every possible permutation!

So enough of my wanderings through Corrie's potted ginger history. Who is your favourite Coronation Street redhead? Are there any famous redheads out there you would love to see step onto the cobbles of Weatherfield one day? 

Please note: you are forbidden from suggesting either Cilla Black or Bonnie Langford.

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Tvor said...

I think Irma Ogden Barlow was a redhead too? Cilla was bottle-red and Les was sort of a strawberry blonde ginger and wasn't Eddie Windass kind of gingery? I like that Corrie features lots of redheads and that they aren't as a rule the object of scorn. I don't know why either, over here in Canada, redheads are most certainly not made fun of in general.

Rebecca said...

I love Gary, he's my favourite.

Anonymous said...

and now we have also got the fab Craig Tinker joining in this list of corrie redheads

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Hilda Ogden a redhead? Eddie Yeats was. Sam Failsworth.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Coming from the south of England, I've always been struck by how many red-heads there are on Corrie (assuming most are natural). Could be something to do with regional characteristics in England, perhaps. Not many red heads on EE.

Anonymous said...

It's probably down to the high amount of Irish immigrants to the North-West.

Some more redheads: Len Fairclough, Vicky McDonald, Ivy was a redhead at times, Suzi Birchall, Wayne, who the Croppers fostered, Becky Palmer, whose mum went out with Des Barnes (and was played by the actor who plays Chesney's sister), Doreen Keogh is a redhead so Concepta must have been, Eve Sykes.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post! Rita is one of my all time favourite characters and I love Gary too. One of my favourite scenes with Gary and Chesney was the Christmas play episode in 2011 - only redheads could have looked so great in those brilliant green elf costumes!

Janice said...

Almost forgot Leanne was a redhead like her dad when she first came on the street.

Anonymous said...

I love redheads (gingers) but Chesney is well past his sell-by date! Gary is great.

Anonymous said...

And what about our Ashley Peacock? Still miss him loads.

Oh yeah, and Claire was a ginger too. Don't miss her though.

Anonymous said...

Wasnt Madge Hindle who played Alf Roberts wife Renee Roberts a readhead too?


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