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Monday 18 March 2013

Corrie characters: Then and now

Here's an interesting idea, I hope. There are certain stereotypical Coronation Street characters that reappear again and again through the decades. Occasionally, a true original will catch us by surprise. I'm thinking of Roy and Hayley Cropper or Graeme Proctor. However I think we'd all agree that the majority of Corrie characters follow stereotypes or caricatures. 

There's the strong, resilient Rovers Return landlady and the brassy, gobby barmaid for a start. What about the nosey gossip, the hard man with the rough edge to him, the battle-axe, the blowsy tart with a heart and the luckless dreamer who never quite achieves personal happiness. 

It's pretty easy to put names to these characteristics from Coronation Street residents in times gone by. Annie Walker was Queen of the Rovers with Bet Lynch as her brassy barmaid. Hilda Ogden was the Street's very own "super nose" and the classic rough-edged brawler was always Len Fairclough. The term battle-axe was almost coined by Violet Carson's Ena Sharples; Elsie Tanner was the legendary good time girl, soft as butter inside and the first in a very long line of shy, unlucky dreamers was very obviously Jerry Booth. 

All classic characters, but which of today's cast of Weatherfield regulars matches up to these legendary icons? And if they do match up today, could we even consider that they are better than what's gone before?

Looking at today's cast of characters, all the roles I've mentioned are filled and still fully functioning. Let's see how they compare.

We all know the current Rovers landlady is Stella Price, but how does she measure up to the regal Annie? And Tina McIntyre is currently the bolshy barmaid, but could she ever out do our Bet? I guess the closest we have to a Hilda-type gossip on today's Corrie is Norris Cole but does he lack that special something Mrs O had in spades?

While most Corrie men are traditionally weak or henpecked, Len was always tough and hard to tame - is Owen Armstrong the 21st Century Fairclough? Rita once commented that she thought along those lines. Do you agree with her? The battle-axe character is a more difficult fit in today's Weatherfield, I guess the late-lamented Blanche Hunt was the best post-Ena Sharples harridan we are ever likely to see. I can't see Gloria Price filling her shoes, but what about the wonderful Sylvia Goodwin?

Pat Phoenix used to tear through the scenery as the marvellous Elsie Tanner - could there ever be another? I doubt it. If you are looking for a deeply flawed Street siren today, I think the closest you're going to get is the feisty Carla Connor. And finally, there have been many characters that have followed in the footsteps of Jerry Booth, Curly Watts being the most familiar. Perhaps the closest we have to him today is Tyrone Dobbs

So what do you make of these comparisons? Do you agree that many of Coronation Street's most typical characters tend to regenerate through the years? And is there any other actor you would like to see in any of these roles? 

For me, Sally Webster is just crying out to be the new Annie Walker! Let's hear your thoughts!

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njblas said...

Maud Grimes was another great Corrie battleaxe...

Tvor said...

Steve McDonald who loves to duck and dive could be a new age Dennis Tanner. He's certainly cheeky enough at least and he was in jail as a young man just as Dennis was. Brian Packham is similar to Derek Wilton. Gary could possibly be molded into a Ray Langton though he's not really got that womanizer gene that Ray did. Yet.

Anonymous said...

Which every character they seem to be, you can be sure that at one time during their stay on Corrie, they will fall unconscious, be rushed to the hospital with tubes up their noses and spend time in's written in their contract somewhere I think because they've all done it.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Go along with you there, Graeme. Indeed, Sylvia is near as anything to Ena, and I appreciated her telling Michelle about her wayward son. Bring back the moral guardian of the Street! As for Carla Connor, Alison King's a great actress but Pat Phoenix had a hard childhood, and it's that troubled life that seeps through her performance as Elsie Tanner. Elsie was a one-off like Annie, but Sally is definitely on the way to becoming a Corrie icon. Terrific at comedy and drama, and has Annie's social pretensions.

Janice said...

Another archetype of the Corrie formula is the lovelorn spinster. Emily was the original, followed by Mavis and now we have Mary. The disapproving mother-in-law would be another. The bad seed son, Terry, David, Ryan.

Karl said...

Great post!

I would definitely say that Carla Connor is the closest we're going to get to Elsie. She really was a one off but so is Carla!

I also agree about Sylvia. She's wonderful!

Mrs Barton said...

Lets have a think about this one... I agree with Carla as Elsie, Norris as Hilda and Sally as Mrs Walker.

I also think Eva could be a new Bet Type, Fiz and Tyrone the new Vera and Jack (less drama please), and Julie as Mavis to Eileen's Rita.

Not one a carbon copy (which would be bad), but similar types.


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