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Saturday 28 March 2015

Corrie on Camping

The current chit-chat relating to Corrie's current one-man campfest, Callum 'who dear? me dear?' Logan serves to remind us of the show's historical fey (as opposed to 'Faye') undertones.

They have always been there of course, right from day one with Elsie archly commenting on her own looks. Tony Warren ensured that a certain camp aesthetic ran through the script and at a time when there was no possibility of a gay character on t'cobbles, it was down to the ladies to help lighten the load.

Although the idea of Albert Tatlock swishing into the Rovers with a clutch bag or Ken holding court in the Rovers 'a la Kenneth Williams' would have been fun. Instead we had brassy 'n' bad Elsie, tart with a heart Bet and snobby Annie on hand to provide the knowing looks and cutting one-liners. To this day, the tradition continues in the form of Sally, Liz, Julie and Carla.

As with Callum and the wonderful Jez Quigley, camp doesn't have to mean gay. Corrie has had some delightfully 'light' characters tripping across the cobbles down the years. Norris Cole has been a bastion of camp for almost 20 years. He is a sniffy old woman disguised under a tank top. Any camper and he would be folding his arms under his bosoms and sniffing loudly. Norris isn't 'fun' camp though. He's Ena Sharples for the new Millennium.

Alec Gilroy and Fred Elliott also provided us with numerous camp moments. These were probably down to, particularly in John Savident's case, a theatrical style of performance. Savident always delivered Fred's lines as though it was to the back row of the London Palladium (see also Yasmeen Nazir). This exaggerated style became synonymous with Fred and was part of the character's charm. Alec too was camp writ large, with his endless fussing.

Of the younger cast, there aren't all that many characters, other than Sean, who have had a touch of the Charles Hawtreys. Steve is possibly the closest, thanks to the slightly over-the-top facial expressions and his tendency to opt for a high vocal in some scenes. Dev continues the fine tradition of Fred Elliott with his booming performances and occasional fey mannerisms. Those two aside though, the blokes are pretty much blokey.

For those who worry about another week of Callum sweeping across the cobbles with all the swagger and bravado of Celia Johnson circa 1946, here's two words for you. Greg Kelly.

Cast your mind back to the somewhat unbelievable macho man, seed of Les Battersby, who caused the faktry girls to coo and flutter their eyelids and who eventually bedded Sally. Poor old Greg. No wonder he was so unhappy, mincing around Weatherfield, desperate to order a Cinzano and lemon in the Rovers or rifle through Sally's Bananarama CDs. If you think Callum is the Street's campest ever baddy, then revisit the Greg Kelly years. Even Frankie Howerd would have raised a glass of sherry in admiration.  Watch him on YouTube here.

By Clinkers to Riddle

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Glenda Young said...

Love it!

Humpty Dumpty said...

Definitely, 'camp' doesn't have to mean 'gay' although many of the Corrie characters whose personalities fall into the high camp category have been played by gay actors. 'Camp' in British entertainment has its roots in music hall - Max Miller is a wonderful example - or pantomime where many Corrie actors go. Corrie has its share of camp actresses - OTT characters like Bet, Yana, Cilla, perhaps even Raquel. You could say most of the Corrie barmaids are camp with their big hair and eyes rolling ceilingward.

Then there's camp meaning 'precious' ie: overly pernickety, and Norris is such an example.

Callum isn't covered by any of these definitions. I suppose he could run his finger along the dusty woodwork in the Platt household and sniff disapprovingly. That would be more believable than his apparent ability to scare the pants of David. Alternatively, give him a bit more swagger and that might see us through the next couple of months till Kylie returns.

AmandaB said...

Craig is rather camp withh his lisp.

Tvor said...

I agree, Greg Kelly wasn't very scary either, though I wouldn't call him camp. I guess maybe i don't really get the concept of camp when it isn't overly theatrical or exaggerated or "precious". I certainly wouldn't consider either Greg Kelly or Callum Logan precious. I think of them as not really well cast for what they're trying to portray. I hesitate to say "bad actor" because it might just be the material that doesn't suit but perhaps a good actor can make anything believable.

Zagg said...

I would not put Callum in the camp category. I would put him in the bad acting category. Camp is an over exaggeration of an acting element or theme that is believable and appealing. Sadly Callum over acts all the time and comes across as wooden, uncomfortable and high school-ish.

Anonymous said...

Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility -- unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it -- that goes by the cult name of "Camp." - Susan Sontag

I'm loving this conversation and hope it carries on.

One thing I always thought about camp - my own included - was that it has a defensive edge, a way of parrying with presumed rejection. (Pls correct me if I've got this wrong.)

I remember how Bet Lynch used to tease Alf Roberts with pretend sexual innuendo, not to lead him on, but to mock the pieties and cowardice of his narrow world view, at the same time, she was also searching for security, if by a different name.

Greg Kelly - a brilliant example of camp. Mocked and abused Sally, at the same time, well,, he pro'ly wanted to be her.

I don't smell any camp coming off of Callum, mainly because I have no idea of where his vulnerability lies and how he's using camp to cover it over.

If, as one commenter said, he's a rich kid who is slumming it as a dealer to get closer to real life, then let us see the places where he gets insecure at playing this character. For me, that would make him the campest drug dealer Weathefield has seen. Until then...

Milly said...

Firstly, thanks anon 17:01 for the news. That would deffo work and be fun.
As you say David (Clinkers), Doris and Sean are top campers this day and Dev has a bit of it going on. Love when Steve Mac does it and personally I don't find Callum all that campy at all.
He's just mildly menacing and scared of Chesney and kittens and butterflies. So.....

Cobblestone said...

I think I'd describe Callum as slightly effete rather than camp, but there's a big overlap with the concepts.
On the subject of 'bad acting', it's often rather a matter of performance style rather than good or bad, and that's often down to the direction (which I think often suffers because of the turn-around speed of each episode). I have younger actor friends who claim Lawrence Olivier was a bad actor, when what they really mean is that they're not used to his acting style which, in its day, was as revolutionary as a di Niro or Pacino. I noticed a couple of recent comments on this blog about Michelle Keegan being a bad actor, which I personally think it utter nonsense - I'd direct those posters to the phenomenal performance she gave last week in the BBC's Ordinary Lies. Occasionally though we do see cringingly bad acting - anyone remember Violet's sister, Lauren?


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