Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Ginger Nuts

Last night's Corrie ended on a bombshell: Faye's bullying of Simon had resulted in a report to the police.  It seemed that the young Miss Windass was going to be getting a visit from the fuzz in the near future.  Across the nation, viewers turned to their loved ones and said, "Good."

How did it all go so wrong for the Windass family?  They are, by quite some margin, the most tedious family in the Street at the moment.  They haven't reached the levels of boredom induced by the Mortons (a.k.a the Family of Sinbad) but your heart sinks when you see their names appear on the EPG.  Gary and Izzy have more problems with baby Jake.  Katie is upset.  Anna has an argument with Faye.

It could have been radically different.  The Windasses were introduced as the new "family from hell", a 21st century version of the Battersbys.  They had a comedy surname and everything.  They started by ordering a kitchen from Joe McIntyre and then refusing to pay for it; Tina and David's perfectly reasonable response was to set it on fire.  Next thing you knew, the Windasses were moving into Gerry's old home, though how they managed to move up from their scabby estate to a well appointed modern three bedroom house (with luxury shed) was never satisfactorily explained.
 

Perhaps they used their criminal connections; because the Windasses that moved into Coronation Street in 2008 were part of one of Weatherfield's most notorious families.  Graeme visibly blanched when he heard their name, and he'd just come out of a young offenders institution.  The clearest sign of this dodgy past was Uncle Len, who was every Gallagher rolled up into one sheepskin jacketed package.  He didn't so much walk down the cobbles as swagger, his legs so far apart you'd think he was doing an impression of Viz's Buster Gonad.  Uncle Len was bent as a nine bob note, and didn't care who knew it.  He was cocky and violent, and was suspiciously similar to his nephew Gary, which made all the viewers give Anna side eyed looks.  Oh aye, we thought.  There's a big revelation to come out over the Christmas table in 2010.

We were, after all, baffled by what little chirpy Anna saw in Eddie.  His long ginger hair dangling pathetically round a hangdog face, a fag dripping from his fingertips, a crutch welded to one arm just in case the Social were watching.  Steve Hulson brought every part of his considerable comic arsenal into Eddie Windass, making believable as the kind of man you end up sitting next to on the bus, the man who moans about his lot while stinking of Rothmans and Poundland aftershave.  Eddie was a loser, the biggest loser the Street had seen in a very long time, and a considerable part of Anna's life was devoted to mopping up after him.


Gary Windass, meanwhile, was wandering around the Street with his hands down the front of his trackie bottoms, leaning on the garden walls and lasciviously staring at Tina's legs.  The textbook definition of "a bit of rough", he was soon diddling Rosie Webster as a way of passing his afternoon, robbing copper from Joe's lock up, and generally showing David up for the spoilt little bad boy he really was.  While David's devilish plans ran to "sending some forged birthday cards", Gary was smacking blokes in the jaw and gobbing into the gutter.  No wonder Tina was intrigued by his hot ginger ways.

But almost immediately after arriving, all the corners were knocked off the Windass family.  Eddie was introduced as a benefits cheat of long standing; it was strongly implied that his disability allowance had been granted on account of his crippling allergy to work.  A couple of months on the Street though and Anna was badgering him to get a job at Streetcars, while she was installed behind the counter at Roy's Rolls.  Anna, it turned out, was the only one of the Windasses with a conscience; you got the feeling that she'd spent many a night fretting in front of a gameshow, wondering where her men were and scoffing bakewell slices to ease the pain.  She revealed this heartfelt side in a teary soliloquy to Gail Platt outside a prison, where she begged her not to dob in her Gary for his latest  crimes.

While Anna and Eddie were going straight, Len was just going.  He was at their house so often in the early days he may as well have taken the spare bedroom; suddenly he vanished, presumably to the same place that Jerry Morton's scary haunted father went to.  Overnight, everyone just stopped mentioning him, and Gary - who'd looked up to him as a better role model than the decrepit Eddie - simply accepted his disappearance with a shrug.

Gary was changing as well.  After David conned him into robbing Audrey's house, as part of their interminable feud, he was banged up for six months.  He came out a little more subdued and then, after a chat with Gail's gay dad Ted (who also subsequently vanished into the Len-hole; perhaps we should start an investigation?), Gary decided to join the Army.  Our teenage thug was suddenly a member of Her Majesty's Forces - quite a turnaround.  This probably had nothing to do with the fact that Mikey North got attacked by a drunken idiot who had problems differentiating between "stuff that happens on ITV" and "real life".  After that, you could understand if Mikey asked the writers to make him a bit less confrontational and a bit nicer.  On the plus side, it gave him a broken nose which added to his scally charm.

The writers perhaps went too far.  The Gary that returned was shell-shocked, yes, but he'd lost some of his bile and spite and become a bit... bland.  The old Gary wouldn't have bothered romancing Izzy - he'd have dropped his trousers and said "Do you want a go on it or what?"  Now he was coquettishly loitering around her, devoted to her, locking her up in her own home to protect her.  Ok, that last one isn't exactly the actions of a modern day Romeo, but at least he cared.


In the meantime, Anna was coping with empty nest syndrome by adopting.  Eddie wasn't exactly overkeen on the idea; he seemed to go along with it just because it would annoy Steve and Becky, who were trying for the same thing.  Of course, the McDonalds were rejected as parents, while the Windasses were seen as perfect fostering material; in unrelated news, Weatherfield Social Services received a massive "must do better" from the Audit Commission.  They were given Faye, a troubled young girl with a devilish streak.

Faye is actually a miraculous character; she's had a lifetime in care and children's homes, has a waster of a father in Tim, a smack-addicted mother, and a decade of psychological trauma and fear of abandonment.  We should all want to care for her and understand her pain, but for some reason, all we want to do is drop her in the canal.  Poor Ellie Leach is doing a fine job with a character that is, and always will be, deeply unlikeable.  In fact, it's possible that Grace was only invented so that Faye would look better in contrast.

Eddie seemed to have a similar reaction to the viewers, and after a few months of putting up with Faye, he wandered off to Germany.  It was a distinctly low-key exit, and didn't really make any sense.  He deserved better; perhaps they could bring back Auf Wiedersehn Pet to catalogue his antics on the worksites in Frankfurt?  Gary, in particular, greeted the destruction of his parents' twenty year relationship with little more than a "meh", suggesting that perhaps he still has a bit of shrapnel wedged in his skull somewhere.

Newly single Anna was now free to hook up with Owen Armstrong, because after Eddie a borderline psychopath seemed like a great catch.  Owen showed his devotion by buying the house with her in it, which seems like a bit of a feudal way to romance a lady to me, a bit Droit de seigneur.  It actually worked out remarkably well as Gary was busy squiring Owen's daughter Izzy; the resultant foursome was a bit crypto-incestuous, but let's face it, we've seen worse on the Street.

Izzy and Gary decided that the perfect way to enhance their love would be a child; unfortunately Izzy's disability meant that she was unlikely to carry a baby to term.  "Hey!" said Gary, in a moment of inspiration, "Why don't we ask that girl I spent almost a year trying to seduce out from under her boyfriend if she'll lend us her womb?"

"I'd be happy to," Tina replied.  "I've completely forgiven you and your family for contributing to my father's bankruptcy and subsequent mental collapse.  My uterus is yours to play with."


So began a year long odyssey of tedium and gynaecological meddling that destroyed any remaining shred of fondness we might have had for the Windass/Armstrong clan.  Even Katy literally giving birth in a manger couldn't bring a ray of sunshine to watching Izzy wail and Owen lose his rag for no apparent reason.  Gary became so sensitive and caring, Dr Miriam Stoppard asked him to fill in for her when she took a holiday from her problem page; the ballsy young thug who'd roger you in the ginnel and not even drop his chips was a very distant memory.  When Tina finally gave birth, it was a far greater cause for national joy than the birth of HRH Prince George: finally! we thought.  This storyline is over!

In the meantime, Katy had an illicit bunk up with Ryan Connor; it was hard to have any sympathy with her because Chesney is basically a sentient glove puppet, and has spent a decade on the Street being loveable and chirpy.  Anyone who makes his plasticine face go all crumbly and upset is naturally evil, and the audience wishes a pox upon their house.  It's similar to the current Faye vs Simon Barlow storyline; Simon is quite clearly the most adorable child in the north west, so we have no sympathy for anyone who makes him blub.  Couldn't they have picked on someone less personable?  I mean, Amy Barlow was right there.

Add in the gormless waste of space that is Tim, and number six is just a big hole of tedium at the moment.  There's no spark to any of them, and all their storylines seem to go on forever.  Perhaps the house is cursed - it's where Tracy Barlow murdered Charlie, after all, and she was replaced by the repulsive Family of Sinbad with their baffling familial relationships and horrible hair.  Remember in the Sixties when number 7 collapsed, and it was replaced by a park bench for twenty years?  Maybe the producers should consider that as a potential future storyline for the Windass house.  Preferably while they're all inside*.


*Except for lovely Gary.  His character may be dull as ditchwater now, but he's still a Hot Ginger.  He can stay.

Follow Coronation Street Blog on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog and Facebook: CoronationStreetBlog

Creative Commons Licence
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

14 comments:

Tvor said...

hahahahahahaha!!!! Favourite bit " the ballsy young thug who'd roger you in the ginnel and not even drop his chips"

I *so* agree and *so* look forward to your acerbic analyses!!! Well worth waiting for!

Clinkers (David) said...

An absolute joy of a read! Nice one and I find myself agreeing with everything. It's time this moribund bunch were melted down for candles or something.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Great blog, agree with it all. The surrogate story was a bore because you can't mess about with nature and it had to go on for almost a year - a century in soap land. Did people originally complain that the family was too rough? That happened with the Battersbys who were then transformed into lovable rogues. They reinvented Anna; out went aka-Janice and in came a new partner for Owen. From Liz McD to Anna W? - didn't ring true. They're probably all good actors given the right script. Faye was very good last night with Grace. But I think it's gone beyond repair and the family should leave.

Pickledjo said...

" Anyone who makes his plasticine face go all crumbly and upset is naturally evil'

HA HA HA HA!


Oh how I miss Eddie...

Anonymous said...

Totally disagree - The Windass family are excellent and Debbi Rush is a great actress. Last night's episodes were electric.

Anonymous said...

That was Brill! :D XooX

Anonymous said...

Oh Scott... absolutely brilliant! Thanks for making my day :)
Rebecca in TO

Anonymous said...

Brilliant demolition of the Windass/Armstrong clan. I'm glad Corrie didn't go down the EE route of characters having "connections" to gangsters, but Corrie badly needs some realistic loveable rogues and characters we love to hate. None of his clan cut it, although I agree that Mikey North is super cute. He could become a loveable rogue.

Zagg said...

LOVE this blog!
"I mean Amy Barlow was right there"! HAHAHAHA!!!
I liked the Windass clan when they first came to the street. Eddie was fun to watch. I loved how they balanced him out with being a master baker. Gary was a bit scary and Anna was good hearted.
Now, no Eddie, (that exit never set well with me) Gary is I don't know and Anna needs to put a sock in it and get real with Faye. It's crazy when Owen is the constant voice of reason.
I am glad that Katie seems to have disappeared. Did she go somewhere and I missed it? Or will she come back and little Joseph will be ready for Uni?

Hannah said...

OMG! How I hate the WINDASSES and faye friend GRACE Is such a piece of work

Chris said...

I think Anna and Owen work quite well as a couple. We need to see them have more happy, couple times though. Anna's scenes with Roy recently have been good. Faye is a horrid character, and we need to see less of her for awhile. But she is quite interesting.

Mikey North is a star, he always delivers with material. Gary is a bit dull at the moment.

I think the best way to give this family a bit of life again, would be to kill off Izzy. Kill Izzy off in a shocking, sudden death, even keep it from the press. It could be really powerful.

Owen relying on Anna for a change. Gary as a single dad. And I would use it to drive Katie out of Weatherfield for good, with Ches.

The.HR.Doctor said...

Superb blog.

The Corrie writers would do well to read and gain perspective in righting their own ship.

Ping Pong Poon said...

I also agree the whole Windass/Armstrong clan should now leave. Eddie left as he was just becoming a popular character for reasons which were strange to say the least. Anna with her annoying voice and hanging lank hair saying “come here” all the time has run its course. Gary is perhaps the only one worth salvaging

Newfy Pearl said...

Owen is one of my fav males on the street. I met the actor when he came to town and he is the most adorable man ever! After meeting him you see that he is a great actor. I love the Owen character warts and all. :-)

You might also like...