Friday, 3 May 2013

Corrie A-Z: C is for Controversies

Like any other TV show, Coronation Street has endured much controversy over the years, be it involving characters, actors, producers or storylines. Sometimes the controversy proves to be a good thing but sometimes it brings a lot of negativity and backlash to the soap.
For many years now the press has been responsible for bringing a lot of publicity to soaps and they have been responsible for leaking storylines and production decisions that have sometimes led to public outcry and outrage and have forced the powers that be to rehash their ideas. And with them come controversies.
It has become a common occurrence for the last 15 years when a new producer arrives on the cobbles, the press go into overdrive wondering which characters will be getting the boot. While it was Brian Park back in 1997 that set the trend, there was a cull of characters back in 1964 when 29 year old Tim Aspinall was at the helm. Amongst the casualties back then were Frank Barlow, Florrie Lindley, Harry and Concepta Hewitt, Jerry and Myra Booth and of course Martha Longhurst. It was Martha’s departure that proved the most controversial: why get rid of such a popular character? There was a public outcry and the Corrie cast were also up in arms as well. Nevertheless, the axe was wielded and Martha died in the snug. The characters of Ken and Valerie Barlow, Albert Tatlock and Lucille Hewitt were also on the hit list but were spared at the last minute.
Thirty-three years passed before such a cull happened on the cobbles. Brian Park was appointed the new producer in 1997 and immediately set to clear out the deadwood characters and give the soap a younger vibe. The characters of Derek Wilton, Don Brennan, Andy McDonald, Maureen Elliott, Bill Webster, Billy Williams, Anne Malone and Joyce Smedley were axed to be replaced by the fresh faces of Natalie Horrocks, Chris Collins, Zoe Tattersall, Spider Nugent and a sexier Nick Tilsley. Long-serving writers Julian Roach, Barry Hill and Adele Rose left the show, angry with the changes. But the most controversial additions were the nightmarish family: the Battersbys. The reserved residents of the street were taken aback with the arrivals of Les, Janice, Leanne and Toyah as they wreaked havoc with their loud music and rudeness towards their neighbours. Their elderly next-door neighbour Percy Sugden left the street for pastures new to a retirement home, exasperated by his new neighbours (Bill Waddington, who played him, sensed there was too much sex scenes in the show and quit). Another veteran member of the cast, Thelma Barlow who had played Mavis Wilton since 1971, left the show. The myth has been that Barlow quit the soap after Peter Baldwin, who played her on-screen hubby Derek, was axed. But in a matter of fact, she had quit the role before Park’s axing of Derek. Park believed that without Mavis, Derek would be lost. What I don’t get is why they just didn’t write Derek and Mavis out together? Wouldn’t it have saved a lot of aggro?
Another thing that brings controversy is the sudden departure of a certain member of cast. Many have fallen into that category over the years. Jennifer Moss (Lucille Hewitt) was sacked in 1974 for her drink problem; Stephen Hancock (Ernest Bishop) quit the programme in 1977 when he had a dispute with producers over pay; Peter Dudley (Bert Tilsley) was involved in controversy in 1980 and 1983 and when he was summoned for a re-trial for indecent behaviour in 1983, he died of a stroke; Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough) was also involved in a case of indecent behaviour in 1983, but was actually sacked for breaching his contract (he’d also been previously suspended in 1969 for his drink problem); Doris Speed (Annie Walker) left the programme abruptly in 1983 after the press revealed her true age and she suffered a nervous breakdown; Chris Quinten (Brian Tilsley) quit the serial in 1988 when he decided to move to the USA; and Bruce Jones (Les Battersby) was sacked for breach of contract in 2007.
As for controversial storylines over the years they include: Valerie Barlow taken hostage by rapist Frank Riley in 1968; the reveal that Betty Turpin was Gordon Clegg’s mother and not his aunt in 1974; Deirdre Langton being attacked under the viaduct in 1977; the introduction of the first transsexual character in 1998 in Hayley Cropper; the case of ‘The Weatherfield One’ with Deirdre Rachid; and an illegal immigrant storyline in 2007 involving Joanne Jackson at the factory. Some storylines have occurred at the same time as a real-life occurrence: toddler Freddie Peacock went missing the same time as Madeline McCann in in 2007; while there was gun siege in Underworld when there was a siege at Cumbria.
And of course there’s that taboo of Michelle Collins/St. Ella’s accent!!
Do you remember any other controversies?

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Anonymous said...

Peter Adamson (Len) was found not guilty - he was only sacked because he sold his story to the papers.

Anonymous said...

Although not past history, currently two major controversies are actors Michael Le Vell and William Roach being arrested and charged.

Glenda Young said...

First anon - Peter Adamson was found not guilty, yes, but then later admitted his guilt to a tabloid reporter.

Anonymous said...

I thought that John Stape kidnapping Rosie was pretty controversial. Kidnappings and hostage takings are nothing new, but the fact that he had her locked in the attic for such a long time...unusual for Corrie. And I don't know if it was as controversial as it was weird, but Zoe and the cult was strange territory for Corrie. (With Owen from Torchwood as the cult leader no less).

Anonymous said...

Andrew Lancel has recently been up on charges as well.

Barrie.T said...

The actress who played Irma Barlow who left the street to start a new life in Australia but the producer lured her back after a year but the actress started going missing in certain scenes, and by the end of the year she disappeared altogether without a proper write out. It was only revealed this year that her mum was sick in real life so she had begged the producer to fire her. In the end she walked out. In 2001 actress who played Linda Sykes walked out midway through her wedding to Mike Baldwin. A lookalike had to be filmed from behind to finish off the scenes and it was later revealed that she had fled to Ireland. Julie Goodyear was to make a comeback as Bet Lynch in 2002 but the actress walked out after a few scenes and was said to have returned to Brighton. When Betty died in real life her character was kept alive for over a year so the producer could come up with a fantastic storyline to send her off. Fans were disappointed when no ex-cast members were involved, but Stella was centre of attention and was seen to be nosing through her belongings. A massive continuity error also occurred when It was revealed that Annie Walker owned the rovers and had left it to Betty in her will. It was also revealed that Betty had stolen several pint pots and was keeping them as souvenirs in her home. Beverley Callard had suffered from depression and her character disappeared in the middle of a big storyline involving Steve and Becky. She was said to be staying in spain. A few years later just before the tram crash she went missing again suddenly and again later returned from spain to be given a proper write out. In 2000 Peter & Susan were recast. Corrie history was re-written when it was revealed that Susan had not aborted her baby to Mike Baldwin but had gone ahead with the pregnancy and had given birth to Adam. Susan was soon killed off leaving Adam to be cared for by Mike and Ken. Adam was played by a bad actor and was sent back to Scotland. Another baby controversy occurred when Michelle found out her son had been switched at birth and Hayley found out she had fathered a Son when she was Harold. In 2005 Martin Platt caused controversy when he started going out with 16 year old school girl Katy Harris whose family had been on a witness protection programme. Her Dad tommy never accepted the relationship and after a heated argument Katy killed her Dad in cold blood then took her own life. The actor who played Martin was not happy with the storyline and left the series. Theres so much more...someone should write an artical

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