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

Monday 24 February 2014

Time to rejuvenate the Corrie royalty?

So Dennis has fled Weatherfield once again, this time with that Gloria. Part of me says good for him as I can see what a good match they might be. Part of me says Boo! for poor Rita. The rest of me (that would be the majority) just feels heartily disappointed at the massive waste of talent this has all been.

As became common under the reign of Phil Collinson, a lot was promised when we heard Dennis Tanner was returning to Coronation Street, but very little was actually delivered. The Powers That Be obviously knew the importance of this move, after all Philip Lowrie was pictured having been newly entered in the Guinness Book of Records, however after that came not very much at all.

I think the lack of anything decent for Philip Lowrie to do clearly demonstrates the wider issue of Corrie not really knowing quite what to do with its older characters. We should be cherishing them while we can, not bringing them back and doing nothing with them or changing personalities over night just because it's convenient to the plot. Once upon a time characters like Ena Sharples, Albert Tatlock, Annie Walker and Minnie Caldwell were the backbone of Coronation Street. Year after year they would be there in the snug of the Rovers or chatting away in the Corner Shop and although not a great deal happened, their performances were lively, truthful and entertaining. They had a niche and the writers of the time knew well what that was.

Even in more recent times we had the onscreen joy of Phyllis and Percy, Maud Grimes, Blanche Hunt and the Duckworths. I know we've lost many class acts in recent years, but that should only mean that the Corrie bosses invest even more in the older characters that remain.

Neither Audrey nor Deirdre have had decent, stand alone storylines in months (possibly years in Deirdre's case). We've seen how wonderful Anne Kirkbride can be recently and I want to see her do more than just disapprove of Tracy's behaviour or throw in a reference to her stuffed marrow. I've always loved Eileen Derbyshire and think Emily's character has stayed true to itself over the years, but the writers have let Barbara Knox down in recent times. Yes we see plenty of her onscreen, but she isn't the Rita we all know and love. The relationship with Dennis didn't work and the friendship with Tina continues to baffle me.

It wasn't that long ago that we gloried in the Book Group meetings in the cafe as Blanche, Rita and the others thumbed the pages of Mel Hutchwright's Hard Grindings. We need more of this, it's the kind of material Corrie thrives on and it's been absent for far too long.

I'm not sad to see the back of Gloria Price but I would desperately love to see Stephanie Cole return as Roy's mum, Sylvia. She was magnificant. I would also dearly love to see Roy Hudd reprise his role as undertaker Archie Shuttleworth. There was real chemistry between Roy and Sue Nicholls as Audrey. Much better than that dreadful Marc/Marcia debacle. And let's develop Norris and Mary a bit more - their touching dance in the Rovers backyard after Hayley's funeral was wonderfully moving.

I also think we need to see some new older characters brought in to freshen things up. I've often thought Lynda Baron would make a great addition to the Corrie cast. She has appeared once before back in the 1990s and more recently, Lynda was fantastic as Violet Carson in The Road to Coronation Street.

So do you agree more needs to be done with Corrie's older characters? Who would you like to see join the ranks? I'm sure I read somewhere that Stuart Blackburn wanted another older character in the cast - get your suggestions in, he might be reading!

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


Anonymous said...

Totally agree that Deirdre is RIDICULOUSLY underused - and whilst I appreciate her comic scenes, I do think there needs to be a balance. I miss seeing her in a serious storyline, because she is a great actress.

Llifon said...

Yes I agree with you Graeme. I am glad that Rita has had a storyline, even though it's been ridiculous.

But I would like to see a story for Deirdre, Audrey, Norris and Emily as well.

Use them before they leave!

John in Cincinnati said...

Talking with my friends, some of whom have been watching Corrie since the beginning, the lack of older characters with any stories is really turning them off.

Trying to appeal to a younger audience is one thing, but turning away the core is a foolish mistake.

USE the older characters that are still in the street for more than window dressing, BRING BACK older characters that have a tie to the "glory days" and give them stories..don't the writers have imaginations??

Anonymous said...

Brilliant blog - the writers misuse and neglect of the older characters shows their own lack of awareness of the world outside of their own social groups.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I wish they would do away with the explosive story lines and cull some of the younger characters that are going nowhere. A smaller cast would give more time to more people. It's not just the oldies; Kirk, for instance, doesn't get a look in and he would be great paired with Craig.

As for new 'oldies', a couple aged 50+ on the Street, would be welcome, perhaps running a dry cleaners/locksmith/anything you like. Gail needs a proper storyline about loneliness which is the root of her clinging to the family. Deirdre gets a couple of wonderful scenes and then is forgotten about. Norris could make a good pal for Roy going off to model aeroplane shows.

I really would like to know the average age of the jobbing writers are on Corrie. Anyone know?

Rosie said...

Great blog Graeme, totally agree, there's no age balance, the writers seem to think that the older generation aren't worth writing about. The story lines are defiantly geared towards the younger viewers. I miss the likes of the Duckworths, Fred Gee, Alec Gilroy and the simple gossip in 'the snug' Ena, Martha and Minnie. Don't the writers have older members in their families. I too would be interested to know the ages of the jobbing writers.

Carry On Blogging! said...

Thank you! Glad you agree!

ChiaGwen said...

Still perplexed that Dennis has been let go and Sophie is to be hanging around another two years. Agree, bring back Archie for Audrey - wonderful together or Lewis for that matter - both great actors and give them a story worth their talent and worth watching. Unless the actor portraying Craig is not available, why have they not seized the opportunity for more scenes and stories with him and Kirk? It's almost as if the writers/producers are watching Coronation St in another dimension, totally unrelated to what the fans are watching and want to watch. Now if only Fred could be resurrected, I'd be happy!

Anonymous said...

Not only would I love to see the return of Archie, but also Ted (Gail's father).

Anonymous said...

Agree, older characters are just 'window dressing' which is a shame indeed.
Yes, what is the average age of a writer for 'the street'?
I don't have to know, I can guess.
I have been watching, nearly right from the beginning, and popular or not, I believe that humanistic, clever and careful writing for older characters would turn them less into parodies or barely tolerable bores, which would go a long way towards breaking down barriers between youth and seniors.
Another question I would ask is "what is the average age of a viewer of C.S."?

Zagg said...

I completely agree with this post. The writing for the "older" characters has been dismal. The writing for the younger characters has not been much better, I just don't care about them on the whole. For me, Katie, Steph, Sloppie Webster and Madd-Ehhhhhhhh could just disappear without any explanation and I'd be just fine with it.
My guess is the writers for the most part now are young 20 somethings, right out of school who never watched the show before. They have no feel for the characters and just rely on the same old cheating formula for every story line. Somehow they think this is "edgy".

Anonymous said...

I also agree. Some of the older characters in the past were the reason I tuned in. They were witty, strong, some were daft (in a good way). It doesn't even feel like Coronation Street most of the time these days. I think there has been a gradual slip and complete change in the way the show is written over the past six or so years. Other than the set and the accents, it doesn't really feel like Coronation Street most of the time.

I also agree that Rita has changed too - her responses seem different.

Anonymous said...

Blind Date used to have the occasional segment devoted to senior citizen daters and it was popular, even on a show that was pretty much aimed at young people getting ready to go out on Saturday nights.

The older contestants often didn't care what they said or how they were perceived and that has been the strength of the older Corrie characters: Ena, Phyllis, Maud, Percy and more recently Blanche, Emily and Rita.

The older characters can voice what the audience is thinking and used to be able to so in an amusing way. Maybe the plots have become too ludicrous for Deidre/Rita to be able to let rip about the Peter/Tina affair, as pithy, witty comments about it might well show up such stories for the disasters they are.

John McE said...

While I completely agree with you regarding the underuse of the older stalwarts of the Street, isn't the real reason that they aren't used more is that in a show that shoots 5 episodes a week, the workload is just too much for anyone in their 70s and 80s.

I would imagine that actors like Barbara Knox or Eileen Derbyshire, while happy to remain on the show, do so only because they've been guaranteed a reduced workload.

Sylvia was, for me, the best new older character Corrie has had in decades, and while she was certainly used a lot, I can't help wonder if the heavy workload was the reason she left. After all, she is now doing other TV work.

Her sudden departure was such a shame, as she would have added so much to the story of Hayley's last months.

So perhaps we are better off with occasional scenes featuring these actors than no scenes at all.

Anonymous said...

John McE, your comments do make a lot of sense.
The senior stalwarts of yesteryear, those very valuable characters that helped form the fabric of the street in the early years, did enjoy a much reduced work schedule.
It's been noted in interviews over the years, and not just for C.S., how very grueling and time-robbing the long days at the studio have become for most of the actors.
This could indeed be a reason very few of them do much more than toss off some lines in the pub or the Kabin, and I too think this has robbed the show of some wonderful story lines that could have been.

Carry On Blogging! said...

I agree with you John, very good points. Another reason to reduce the number of episodes they churn out perhaps!

Anonymous said...

Quality over Quantity.

John McE said...

Can't help noticing in the episodes per year summaries, how the likes of Alec appeared in 122 out of 157 episodes shown in 1990. It will be very interesting, if you continue this feature right up until the present day, how much lower the percentage of episodes for each character will be.

Even Tina, or St. Ella, still regularly disappear for weeks at a time... Which pretty much shows that all the actors are worn out by doing 5 episodes a week, and need long breaks to recover.

The quality would sky-rocket if they cut the episode to say 3 per week, reintroduced rehearsals, and got rid of the dead wood characters.

But of course, advertising revenue would suffer, and we know what is most important to ITV.

Anonymous said...

You know, I would happily not see my favourite show as often if, like you suggested, the dead-wood characters disappeared and we had more in depth, decent story lines instead of a myriad of sensational stories for each character in turn.
But, as you say, Advertising Rules the air waves, so quality will be sacrificed.

Newfy Pearl said...

Eastenders is killing off one of their young wooden actresses....maybe they should think about that for Sophie! Sally Dynevor and Michael LeVel would act the heck out of that situation! lol
P.S. Make Maddie the killer to get rid of her too.
But in the meantime...remember Sally and Gail are two characters that started out as teens on the show...there is room for younger people too. I would not watch a show full of middle aged to old people...and I am middle aged!

Anonymous said...

I don't think the increased number of episode has to have any baring on whether the older characters are brought in or used the best of their ability. They don't have to be in every episode - they could still only be in 2-3 episodes out of the 5 each week. It also doesn't excuse the poor writing quality. When we do get a classic older character in an episode, often the dialogue isn't any where near the same as it was for characters like Mavis, Ena etc.

They should introduce more older characters into the show and spread it out so that there is at least one/two older characters in each episode instead of the younger characters dominating each week.


You might also like...

Coronation Street Books for Fans