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Monday 21 April 2014

Anna Windass: Heroine or Harridan?

With thanks to Nathan Richardson of for sending us this great article about Anna Windass.

Manchester has always been a city of strong women; from Mrs. Gaskell, the Suffragettes, and Shelagh Delaney. It is a city in which women are not content to take to the background, rolling out the pastry in pretty pinafore. Gaskell gave Dickens a run for his money, the Suffragettes together effected such indelible, extraordinary change in society, and Delaney took the largely male-dominated world of 1950s theatre and made her genius known, influencing both cinema and pop music consequentially.

This aspect of the city is invariably felt in Weatherfield, for Weatherfield too is a place of strong, commanding women. In 1960, when Coronation Street was first broadcast, the three most central characters were Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner, and Annie Walker. They were all different, but each a matriarch in their own respect. Men in Coronation Street are like men in Jane Austen or Barbara Pym novels; while they may have their name over the door, in reality they are feeble, infantile, pitiful. It was the women who held things together, the women who called the shots. Such gender roles are still apparent. Steve McDonald is the babbling, boyish figure who comes across as so absent minded that, without the help of Michelle, he’d struggle even tying his own shoelaces. Jason Grimshaw is but the pet dog of Eva Price, and even Tim, who entered the show as a roguish figure, has fallen under the thumb of Sally Webster, and her company has the strange ability to reduce him to that of a submissive school-boy. (And even the men with something about them, like Tony Gordon, or Frank Foster, transpired to be both deranged psychopaths, and Dev, who could be seen as a wealthy, confident male character has always, in one way or another, relied on women.)

Carla, Liz, Leanne, Gail – they have all led tough lives, yet they get through it, and come out somehow stronger. The greatest heroine of the street at the moment is Anna Windass. Without her, the family would simply collapse. We see the great toil and trauma in which they find themselves presently, yet she keeps a brave face, and perseveres, assuring everybody that everything will be alright. It is her that they turn to, and she is always on hand to support, encourage, love. She may be by profession a cafe assistant, but she is as powerful and as important as the lioness.

It took me a long time to warm to the Windasses. They seemed too dull, easily replaceable, and their reason for being there didn’t really wash with me, but with the recent Pat Phelan storyline, I’ve seen a different side to them, and to Anna especially. She stands in a long line of leading women, from Elsie Tanner, to Bet Lynch, Vera Duckworth, and Becky McDonald, embodying the very spirit of the cobbles, of the city, all that makes it unique and wonderful. She is an inspiration.

Nathan Richardson

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Defrost Indoors said...

Beautiful article, but I don't actually see her as being particularly strong, more like nasty and interfering. I would put Audrey much further up than Anna.

Upintheattic said...

I agree,Defrost indoors, and feel Audrey would be in that line-up. I think she is due for her own story. Loved her in the Lewis romance. She is great...likeable and all that.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Very well written article but I disagree with the conclusion. As commented above, Audrey is the one who is the current strong female. The other thing is that Sue Nicholls has terrific presence on the screen, just as the actors who played Elsie, Annie, Ena and Bet had. Debbie Rush is an OK actor but not commanding in any way. And it's very hard to like Anna even when she was supposed to be helping Roy. Anna took completely the wrong approach during the surrogacy story and should have been the voice of reason rather than skipping around with joy. I think that's the point at which I lost interest in her.

Anonymous said...

Oh puhleez, Ena was moralistic, Annie was pretensious, Elsie and Bet were rich because of their flaws. Give Anna time to grow her own warts and roses. She's well on her way.

Anonymous said...

I argree with Defrost Indoors, Audrey is a much more meaningful strong female character.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it took a real strong woman like Anna to rip off Joe MacIntyre, starting him off in a downward spiral into drug abuse and depression.

Anonymous said...

She's had so many personality changes Anna might do well to check her meds. They've done too many drastic things with Anna and I'm beyond caring about her development or anything else. I have to agree that Audrey is much stronger than Anna will ever be!

abbyk said...

Anna's been around for how many years? She was a baddy and a cheat with Eddie; like Anon 22:41 said, they were the ones who ripped off Joe McIntyre, and she certainly showed no backbone when Len pushed things further. First impressions are lasting and hers were awful (never the acting, just the character). I don't see her as glue, but rather as an over extended mommy to a bunch of adults who shouldn't need one, and under available to Faye, who does.

I think Carla could one of those legendary heroines, if she stays around (please please please). She has certainly made some dreadful romantic partnerships but kept a business running employs half the street. It's really a shame about the affair & impending murder; she has a great relationship with Tina which could have become a deep friendship with time. I would have liked to see them in the snug with milk stouts (or whatever) 30 years from now.

Smiley said...

Oh please! Steve has owned Streetcars for years, 15 years now, if I recalled correctly and no other women has part-owned it. Thus, no burning down, crazy explosion, etc etc, only because men ruled the roost in that place. Steve isn't hopeless as you make him out as be.

We did have strong male characters with the likes of Mike Baldwin, Fred Elliott and our Roy Cropper.

Mike owned a business longer than anyone on the street ever did - maybe Rita did - but when Mike's down, he isn't down for long. Women don't get to henpick him because he'd kick them out. Mike has always had the stabilities.

Fred is a big softie, he is kinda like Elsie - unlucky in love but he has money. He is well liked and wouldn't cower to women like Steve currently are.

Roy had to stand up for his woman, like no others, he remained in the area when many would have packed up and left Weatherfield. Roy is one of the strongest men in the street.

It is easy to remember Elsie, Ena and Annie, only because they appeared more and it was the only way you could get some drama if there is a fight. A fight of moral, decency and self esteem.

Just Saying said...

I like Annna too and just because Audrey wasn't mentioned doesn't make her irrelevant...afterall it wasn't a
Audrey is the supreme older citizen of the street. She is simply dynamic!

Mad Hatter said...

Smiley, I agree completely with your post. Very well written and great points.

About Steve and his businesses, he might get henpecked by the likes of Michelle and Liz who look down on him, but if it wasn't for Steve they wouldn't be running the pub. Most of these 'strong' female characters relied on their male partners to get them higher up. Carla did with Paul, then relied on the likes of Tony Gordon and Frank Foster to keep the business afloat.

Leanne burnt down her last business, then wormed her way into the bookies when getting with Peter and is only running the Bistro because she was married to Nick who was the one who built the business up. If it wasn't for him, would she have what it takes to run her own business like he did?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...21 April 2014 22:41

I agree 100%

" took a real strong woman like Anna to rip off Joe MacIntyre, starting him off in a downward spiral into drug abuse and depression."

The writers transform characters into hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I have one thing to say to you:
"What goes around, comes around".
Let's see what happens to you, now the 'construction boot' of debilitating debt and the hardships that come with, is on the other foot.

Canuktuk said...

Great observations about Steve and several of the other strong men on the Street. That's why I think it bothers me so much to see the way Steve is written while he's with Michelle. He may have always been involved with bossy (and slightly crazy) women but he's always found a way to stand up for himself. With Michelle, he's just a verbal punching bag and that is not entertainment.

Roy, Nick, Lloyd, Dev - they've all had potential for strength and success but one by one they are cut down into emotional wrecks. The victims of lazy and unimaginative writing.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the surrogacy storyline, Anna wasn't 'jumping for joy' she was a lioness fighting for her son and dsughter-in law whose son was being stolen from them by Tina.Rita another Corrie 'strong woman' should've been the voice of reason at the time telling Tina that she was wrong instead of jumping for joy at being a 'grandmother' and treating Tina like she was the victim when she had to return Jake to his parents.I bet that despite Dennis' betrayal, Rita will be on Tina's side again once it hits the fan about her and Peter even though they were sleeping together while Carla was with a dying Hayley.


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