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Friday, 10 October 2014

Oh, Steve

Coronation Street’s Clown-in-Chief Steve McDonald has been feeling a bit down in the dumps recently. Wracked with guilt over his involvement in the Peter-Carla-Tina situation, further compounded by his Dad Jim’s mischievous and violent actions in prison, Steve is feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. Weatherfield’s wally has pressure coming from all sides with a demanding girlfriend, two businesses to run, mum Liz getting involved with Jim again, not to mention his infatuation with a dot-to-dot of moles he's discovered causing him extra worry, albeit unnecessarily, things are getting to him. There’s also the additional worry of little Amy and her ever more present Tracy-like behaviour, which we are all fearful of!

Who can blame Steve for feeling a bit stressed?

Well it’s more serious than that. We are about to witness Steve descend into depression. Who can blame him with everything that’s going on? And the cherry on the cake is the big 4-0. It’s becoming clear to Steve that even though he might go through life making light of situations, he can’t get away with joking his way out of things any more. He’s a dad, a partner, a business owner and actually, he’s proud of what he’s managed to build up over the years, especially considering the many hurdles he has had to confront. But who knows how long he has been hiding these feelings? It’s common for people with depression to cover it up until they are at breaking point. The McDonald clan have certainly had a lot to contend with over the years.

The Steve and Liz of today are a wonderful example of how characters can change and develop in Coronation Street. Many of us remember the tumultuous 90’s with Jim, an ex-solider terrorising his wife, Liz whose pain could be read in every facial expression. The twins Andy and Steve fighting, getting into trouble and further making Liz’s life a bit of a nightmare. Add in a few more prison sentences, murder charges, wives, children and of course the ever present Tracey Barlow, and you’d actually expect a rather fractured mother and son relationship. But Steve and Liz have become quite the double act. Despite the trials of life in Weatherfield they have stuck together. Granted they get right on each other’s nerves a lot of the time, but they are a team and at the moment it seems one that would prove difficult to break. This was highlighted quite beautifully when Liz last left the cobbles in 2011. Her final scenes showed that love Steve and Liz have for each other.

At the time, Bev Callard who plays Liz was going through her own serious depression problems and thankfully she has got through them and returned to Corrie. Bev and Simon Gregson are very close in real life and I’m sure the experience of those difficult couple of years for Bev will help them both portray this important storyline in the brilliant and delicate way Coronation Street always approaches such issues.

So what does this storyline mean for Steve McDonald? Have we lost our favourite joker for good, will he too get through this difficult time or will he come out of this a different person? With depression, and I know Corrie will have done their homework, as in life it’s difficult to say. Life experiences, trauma and the daily grind contribute to depression, but sometimes it’s difficult even for the professionals not only to explain but diagnose. Steve’s storyline has only just begun. We’ll see him try to diagnose himself, question his worth and question his relationships. Hopefully we'll see the strong bond between Liz and Steve prove it's worth during his difficult time. It’s sure to be emotional but essential Coronation Street viewing, for those that know about depression and those who may learn a thing or two. 

There are many ways people can get support if they are feeling depressed, or can’t explain exactly what they are feeling. Here are a few ways you can find out more information: / @MindCharity – one of the most prominent mental health charities

Twitter: @timetochange – the campaign to end discrimination against people with mental health problems



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Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, Stevie. As well as the great explanation and advice about depression you've provided for understanding and links to helpful organizations, you've written a really fantastic background outline of the character Steve McDonald.

Llifon said...

Really enjoyed reading that! Very insightful.

Frosty the Snowman said...

I would like to see being given a bit more support and taken seriously rather than the smirking and sneering from his mother, his partner and the ghastly Eileen who is supposed to be a friend.

Anonymous said...

Poor Steve. The constant ridicule has probably taken its toll on him. Even when he went to get himself educated he was constantly put down by the ghastly lot, who are hardly the most intellectual bunch. Forgetting he is the primary reason any of them are working so they can constantly take the pi$$ out of him and practically make him out to be thick and useless.

Hopefully this story is treated with sensitivity, I liked the scenes last night, just hope they can keep this good standard up.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, that smirking and sneering attitude from the ghastly lot, is often the way this issue is treated. They are reflecting reality there.
I'm a Canadian viewer, and haven't watched your last night's scene yet. (we are getting closer though, YAY!)
This could be an excellent opportunity for Corrie, to shed some light on 'Depression and Causes Of'.Robin Williams recent suicide, being a recent 'celeb' wake up call.

Emma Hynes said...

I've always complained about the belittling brigade who are supposed to love and care for Steve. But my recollection of last night's episodes are different. Yes, they mocked his concern about his mole which infuriated me, but there was a scene in the Rovers while he was at the doctor where Eileen, Liz and Michelle grew genuinely concerned and appeared sobered by the thought that there may be something wrong with him.

When he came home, there was a very tender scene between himself and Liz where, despite knowing there are no concerns on the skin cancer front, she asks him seriously if he's okay. It appears the tide has already begun to turn on their treatment of Steve and I think this bodes well for an appropriately serious treatment of the issue by all concerned.

Great piece Stevie.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate this blog and agree with most of it, the word that jumped out at me, that I must object to, is "mischievous". Jim's actions go way past mischief. I would call them malevolent, even vicious. Jim's always had a short fuse, a bad temper and a tendency to violence. Prison has added cruelty and cunning to that description. Even his "love" for his family is now a desperate, purely selfish behaviour, a survival tactic. There's nothing redeeming left in him. The Irish charm is now sinister.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that this depression storyline shows a different side to his friendship with Lloyd as well. They're brill as a comedy duo but it would be interesting to see how they work together on something more dramatic.

Nikki NZ aka NZ Coro Junkie said...

I agree with Anonymous at 22:37. Assuming they've got time to include Lloyd in this storyline before the Craig Charles goes off to film Red Dwarf.

It would be great if Lloyd was the friend who tries, and at times fails, to relate to someone with depression.

Like the Hayley cancer story, the reactions and effect on other people around the person at the heart of the story are also critical if the storyline is to be real and powerfully moving.

Unknown said...

I bet Beverly Callard will also play a crucial role in Steve's depression story. She kicked it off with genuine emotion for him in the back of the pub after his appointment. Those 2 almost made me cry in that scene!

Martin Leay said...

Great post. It's a massive storyline and Simon Gregson is doing a brilliant job so far. In tackling depression in men, I hope Corrie will shine a light on an issue that affects millions and help de-stigmatise mental health problems, showing people that they can and must seek help. I hope that will be reflected in the storyline and that Michelle, Liz, Lloyd and everyone else around Steve will show him the support that he will need. I am sure they will.


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