Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Elsie Who?

Copyright @pickledjo

There's been  recent excitement over the latest regeneration of  Doctor Who, where the original character was, to use a modern term, "rebranded" using a new actor, with differences in personality as ell but with the basic persona intact.

Nobody can dispute that Elsie Tanner is one of Corrie's iconic characters, so much so that decades later, sometimes a new female character would be described as the "new" Elsie Tanner though most long time fans never really believed it.

When Pat Phoenix left the show for good in January 1984, what if they had regenerated Elsie instead of letting her go off on an adventure alone? We could have had different actresses, younger or older, different personalities but with the basic core of Elsie, tough, feisty, maternal, not very lucky in love and a real survivor.

If we could look at some characters that came after Elsie, we might envision some of them as regenerated Elsies.

Gloria Todd (Sue Jenkins, 1985 - 1988)
Gloria was a bit on the young side and wasn't very maternal, but she was feisty and by'eck she didn't 'alf go through the men in the three years she was on the show. She was either admired by or dated the following: Steve Holt, George Newton, Frank Mills, Alan Bradley, Terry and Jack Duckworth, David Atherton, Mike Baldwin, and Pete Shaw.  She went out with Alan Bradley who was also romancing Rita at the same time but Gloria had scruples and dumped Alan when she found out. Elsie would do that, too, she never liked to fight over a man with a mate, and wouldn't steal one from a mate either.

Denise Osbourne (Denise Black, 1992 - 1997)
Not long after Gloria fled the cobbles, Denise Osbourne made her entrance. She was the first of the characters to have the "Elsie Tanner" label. She had the pouffy hair, the cynicism that comes from too many failed relationships, the vulnerability of one that is still looking for love (in all the wrong places). She had one ex husband, George, that we never met and one younger toyboy fella, Neil Mitchell who was a mistake, her post-divorce fling/marraige. In additin, she was admired by or dated these men: Don Brennan, Brian Dunkley, Ken Barlow (with whom she had a child, Daniel), Reg Holdsworth, Jack Duckworth, Doug Murray, Jon Welch and Hanif Ruparell. Many a neighour would sniff that Denise was no better than she ought to be. Elsie would approve.

She also had a maternal side and took young hairdressers Fiona Middleton and Maxine Heavy under her wing, particularly Fiona. In Elsie's later years, she often had  young women as lodgers who looked to her for advice and comfort. She left the show, having taken Brian Dunkley off her sister, scarpering to Scotland with baby Daniel. She did make a brief reappearance in 2007 but the spirit of Elsie Tanner had moved on by then.

Natalie Horrocks Barnes (Denise Welch, 1997 - 2000)
Natalie was another short lived but busy woman. She came onto our screens intent on homewrecking the Webster marraige and succeeded in short order. Subsequent relationships included Vinny Sorrell, Ian Bentley, and brothers Colin  and Des Barnes, marrying the latter. But that fairytale did not end happily because Des was killed defending Natalie's son, Tony, from drug dealer heavies. Natalie helmed the Rovers for a short time, providing a maternal figure for young Leanne Battersby, Samantha Failsworth, and her niece Lorraine Brownlow. Natalie often had the neighbours gossiping and disapproving of her, with many a wife pulling her husband away from the bar when Natalie was serving.

She lost her fella, Vinny, to her sister and left the Street, pregnant and ready to start a new life. She started out in the centre of scandal, left with scandal chasing her skirts and never really shed the scent of it while she was in situ but she didn't give a damn. Elsie would approve.

Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay, 2001 - 2006)
Shelley might be another one that's a little young to be Elsie regenerated but I believe she had Elsie's spirit in her. She was indeed feisty, a real good time gal and one of the lads but the lads fell all over themselves to avail themselves of her "Charms".She was one of the few Elsie regenerations that didn't go through men like butter, having only one other major relationship, that with Peter Barlow who crushed her when, newly married, she discovered he was already and still married to Lucy Carmichael with whom he even had a child!

She wasn't really a maternal figure but had her best mates, Sunita and Geena and was a kind of big sister to Violet.  She was tough and strong until the dastardly Charlie Stubbs wormed his way into her brain. She found her backbone eventually and jilted Charlie at the altar, taking her life back with both hands. Elsie would approve. But one last one night stand with Charlie found her pregnant though she left town to raise the baby on her own.

Carla Connor (Alison King, 2006 - present)
No sooner did Shelley swan out of Weatherfield, than Carla Connor swanned in on her stillettos, flouting a designer handbag. She's got a lot of Elsie's spirit. She's tough, strong and feisty almost to the point of failure because she has a hard time showing her vulnerability to anyone. She's had terrible luck with men, most of whom either end up dead or who attack or try to kill her. Her husband Paul had a prostitute habit and was killed in a car crash while speeding into town to prove to his wife that he wasn't a customer of the prostitute he had in the car boot (Leanne Battersby).

Then it turns out she'd loved her brother-in-law, Liam, since they were kids, love of their lives and all that. Except he married Maria before starting an affair with Carla. Liam ended up dead on a back street in Manchester when her fiance Tony discovered she loved Liam and had been having an affair with him. She didn't know Tony killed Liam and married the man! But she soon discovered the truth and fled town only to return when Tony was insinuating himself into the life of Maria, the woman who had been married to Liam. Tony turned himself in but later broke out of jail and nearly killed Carla when he set fire to her factory with the two of them in it! She dated binman Trevor for awhile and he helped her recover from the trauma but he felt she wasn't really into him and he didn't like being under her thumb so he left town with Janice Battersby! Quite an difference but at least he got out alive!

Carla had another controlling boyfriend in client Frank Foster but she'd fallen in love with Peter Barlow who married Leanne instead. She decided she'd take Frank if she couldn't have Peter but when she and Peter inevitably had an affair, she jilted Frank the eve before their wedding. Frank didn't take it well and raped Carla and then managed to get off of the charges in a dramatic trial that ended with Peter's wife Leanne discovering the affair. Frank ended up dead on the factory floor after admitting to Carla that he knew he raped her and threatened to do it again. Was Carla guilty of killing him? Was Peter? No, neither one of them did it, Frank's mother was the culprit, lashing out after she'd overheard his confession.

Carla finally ended up with Peter only to have him snog a barmaid young enough to be his daughter on their wedding day after Carla was put to bed drunk. She doesn't know that yet. Carla doesn't have a maternal bone in her body though she tries with Peter's son, Simon. She can't really relate and the lad knows it but she's not the evil step "monster" either. No matter what awful thing life throws at Carla, almost always at the hands of a fella, Carla seems to keep going even with a bit of a wobble. And though Elsie's tipple was gin, Carla likes a bottle of red wine or two to soften the hard edges of life. I think Elsie would approve.

Most of the ladies above would have similarities to Elsie when she was younger and into her 40s. The only other possibility on my list was Eileen Grimshaw who is actually related to Elsie whose maiden name was Grimshaw. She certainly has the "loser in love" aspect and the maternal instincts with a house full of lodgers over the years but I don't think she has the eternal optimism, that "pull yourself up by your 20 deniers and get on with it" hopefulness that Elsie had. Argumentative isn't a fair substitute for Feisty and Eileen is miserable more often than she's not even if she lives in Elsie's old house.

So there you have it. Elsie Tanner regenerations over the past 30 years since La Tanner left the street for Portugal with her fella. I'd say that, in my opinion, Natalie and Carla are the regenerations closest to Elsie's spirit, though like Elsie, all the women are survivors.

Download our App | Follow on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog | Like on Facebook

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


Laura said...

Interesting article. As I was reading it, I wondered if Leanne should be on the list. If Shelley made it, I feel she should have as well. She's certainly got that "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" bit going on, over and over and over again. She's also feisty and quite maternal, unlucky in love, and often the talk of the town. She's made mistakes but has a heart underneath and regrets the bad things she's done.

If she would stop being such a sourpuss sometimes, I would definitely put her on the list.

Mary said...

Great post:)

njblas said...

Very enjoyable post Tvor! One query though, I am pretty sure the photo of 'Gloria Todd' is actually of Susan Barlow Baldwin. They did have similar hairstyles.

The.HR.Doctor said...

I think Paula Lane is the best reincarnation of Elsie to date...

Glenda Young said...

I've changed Susan Barlow for Gloria Todd ;-)

Great post though. I always thought Steve's girlfriend Ronnie (the sweater girl with the gangster husband) came the closest to a new Elsie, I loved her character.

njblas said...

Oh yes! Ronnie Clayton was fabulous...I was very surprised the Powers That Be decided her character wasn't working and gave her the chop! She turned nasty overnight and went to gaol as I remember. Ronnie could have been an excellent long-running character, as far as I was concerned; she had a lot more going for her than numerous other beige characters who inexplicably have their contracts renewed year after year:( Her character has probably served her time now, let's have her back - along with Angela Harris:)

Humpty Dumpty said...

I always thought Bet in her younger days was in the style of Elsie.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

I would say that Carla is the closest to Elsie.

Barrie.T said...

I think Carla fits the bill. She works at the factory as Elsie did and has the same rotten luck with men that Elsie had. Although Elsie was known as a bit of a tart amoungst her neighbours (mainly Ena Sharples) and a bit feisty. Perhaps Liz Macdonald is a better fit

Tvor said...

My only requirement is that none of the characters could overlap, i.e. be on the show at the same time or just very briefly.

Chris said...

I think Carla does have a maternal side, and it happens to be towards her factory girls. Haykey, Fiz, Sally and even tonight with Beth.

NZ Coro Junkie said...

Where did that photo of Carla come from? Never seen her smoking before (although there were photos of Alison king with a cigarette recently). And I don't think she's ever been an Underworld model!

Laura said...

Interesting point, Chris. I hadn't thought about Carla's relationship with her workers being similar to a maternal one, but I think you're right.


You might also like...

Coronation Street Books for Fans