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Tuesday 24 November 2015

The Good, the Bad, the Flamin' Useless

Let's take a trip down memory lane. The curlers are in, the HP sauce, thickly buttered bread and a steaming mug of tea form the centre piece of a lovingly furnished dining table. Stan Ogden sits in wait until the fry-up eventually arrives accompanied by the chirping sounds of wife Hilda, mid-anecdote. She flutters about putting the world to rights whilst he pretends to listen, nodding every now and then to show he's paying attention. In what could be described as a typical working class marriage of that era, the Corrie husband served a purpose however useless he was and Stan was the epitome of that. 

"Pull my finger"
Following in Stan's footsteps, Jack Duckworth also personified the bone idle, but loveable Corrie male. The fondness for a pint or three at the Rovers, an eye for the ladies and an apparent allergy to a hard day's work meant that wife Vera was the ultimate long-suffering spouse, a situation which often led to a vicious cycle of misbehaviour, a rollocking from the missus, followed by a few pints to alleviate the stress caused by the rollocking from the missus, followed again by another rollocking from the missus for coming home blind drunk. It was glorious to watch and one wouldn't be the same without the other.

Also from the school of bone idle - Les Battersby. Although perhaps jail of bone idol is more accurate. The Battersbys were cartoon-like in how stereotypically common they were. With the family causing trouble right from the start, hapless Les was often at the centre of their problems. When put with Cilla that familiar Corrie theme of male failure, female disappointment and all the corresponding sound effects (screaming, shouting, insults etc) fall into place.

"I asked for two halves but they only had one glass"
Coronation Street is and probably always will be dominated by the female of the species, but without the lazy, good-for-nothing slobs who test their wives to the limit, the Street would not be the same. A more modern example of the flamin' usless is Kirk. Debateably a few cobbles short of a full street, Kirk is a more modern take on the sloth-like Corrie male. Not so much letting the women do all the cooking, cleaning and going out to work, but not entirely reliable in an emergency. He respects his better half though and 
isn't afraid to show that respect, something the more old fashioned Corrie men weren't so comfortable with.  

In what seems to be a bit of a transitional period for Coronation Street, the type of man described above, that has always been a staple of the show and that have helped make the strong women so prominent, seems to be dying out. New castings have meant that the Street is fully stocked up with new families such as the Connors and lots of new and younger male faces to see Corrie into the future, but will it be the same without the Jack Duckworths, the Stan Ogdens and even the Kirk Sutherland's of this world? If a couple of the most recent long term arrivals are anything to go by, probably not.

Take Andy. Entering on a great storyline of deceit, blackmail and heartbreak - literally in Michael's case - the character had promise. They dragged the initial storyline out a little bit too long but that gave us more time to get used to Andy (or Gavin as he temporarily was), but now he just seems to hover around the periphery of the show, contributing very little. He does indeed seem useless, but not in the comedic, scripted way we like, he's just a bit wet. 

Another floater is Robert. The scenes this week with Simon in the Barlow's yard were touching, and gave us a little insight into Robert's own past, but again he seems weak and a little bit pointless. Perhaps when turbulent Tracy finally sends him over the edge we might see a bit of oomph from the sexy chef.

"It's like talking to a brick wall"
All is not lost however. Tyrone and Fiz have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Jack and Vera. Still quite young, they are already veterans of Coronation Street and the writers have the potential to make them true soap legends. Just imagine Tyrone is his 50s, complete with string vest and pigeons . And THANK GOD for Tim. And Sally for that matter. Their pairing is genius and the new comedy element to Sally's character is just perfect. Tim has quickly become a Corrie favourite and certainly shows elements of that classic, henpecked Corrie bloke. 

We've been a bit obsessed with men on the Coronation Street blog recently. Llifon has been counting down his all time favourite Corrie men, and over the summer Emma gave us some of her thoughts about Corrie's Mithered Men. I also wrote about What Makes a Corrie Man last year. Enjoy.


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Alison said...

I'm happy for characters not to follow the old Corrie stereotype. Men lazing around and their women screeching at them isn't what I want to watch.

Stephen said...

I can't agree with you about the Mighty Kirk. He may cluelessly let others' chatter go over his head, but he's not bone idle. He turns up to work every day and even has a work ethic, happy in his job. Like Tim and Steve, Kirkeh is a wonderful character, and (yes, I know I've said this before) much too good for the gobby, awful Beth.
Still, she knows when she's well off. When the superfluous Connor girl was flirting with him at the factory, Beth grudgingly said that she could see why, because "sex just oozes out of him." The Mighty Kirk, indeed.

Stevie said...

I'm not sure I want to think about sex oozing out of Kirk... :)

Humpty Dumpty said...

Let's not forget Jason, though he's soon to depart the cobbles. He's a rare Corrie male, liked by other blokes and fancied by a lot of women. A hard grafter but probably doesn't lift a finger at home. He's easy going and kind-hearted which means he can get henpecked by the strong Corrie females in his life. All in all, Jason belongs on the Street and it's a shame he and Eva didn't stay together.

Tvor said...

lol Stephan and Stevie. Yep, I was going to add that Kirk isn't bone idle and is a wonderful character. Eddie Windass was probably the last really classic feckless bone idol fella we had on the show. Steve has his moments, and Michelle certainly treats him like the classic Corrie husband but he does own two businesses and is a decent dad as well.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand the Fizz/Tyrone, Jack/Vera comparisons. Fizz's character is dreary and awful, she's not a patch on Vera.

Llifon said...

May I point out it's fans' favourite men, not mine ;)

Anonymous said...

Anon 14.50, I agree with you. I am not a fan of Fizz at all. I got completely turned off her when after Hayley passed away and she started treating Roy like a child. She is constantly nagging at Tyronne he never seems to do anything right. Both she and Tyronne need to smarten up use their heads and learn all they can about their daughter's disease and the best way to help her through it. I'm sure there are all kinds of resources available to them. But of course this is Corrie and no one ever seems to get professional help for anything. Fizz seems afraid to take Hope out in public in case she picks up an infection but has no problem letting half the street troop into the house.

Anonymous said...

I'm also not a fan of Fiz who I observed has become a bully to Tyrone in the same way Hayley was with Roy when she had cancer and wondered why aren't they seeing a counsellor about Hope's illness?
I wonder why is the term 'bone idle'is only used in reference to male characters? Sarah Platt is not what I would consider a 'strong Corrie woman'She's whinging when she doesn't get her way and when she was 'working' at the Rovers,she was always on a 'break'.

njblas said...

Totally agree with you about how the characters of Andy and Robert are floating. I feel sorry for the actors that it appears the writers can't do more with them and beef them up a little. They are both being wasted - especially Andy, who I think has huge potential. The biggest waste however was of the actor who played the real (nasty) Gavin - he was brilliant, so menacing. How very different (and more believable) the Callum storyline would have been if they had cast the Gavin actor as Callum! Instead he was wasted on a handful of episodes, while we had to endure a panto-villain at the helm of that never-ending Platts vs Callum saga...

Cobblestone said...

They certainly are wasting Andy, who I find very likeable and decent (when he's not pretending to be someone else) but currently adrift. I'm still pretty disgusted with the writers that they didn't show us the evolution of Andy & Michael's relationship after the latter left Gail (who only lied out of concern for his health) and moved in with the guy who'd caused all the strife in the first place. We were expected to just accept that 'ah, Michael & Andy have patched things up', while instead of this potentially interesting story, all we were served up with was the dross of the Gail/Eileen battle for Michael. Surely we should have seen at least one frank conversation between Michael & Andy, addressing what happened, now the dust has settled. Wouldn't the essentially decent Andy have put in a plea for forgiveness for Gail? What was compelling about the original story was the growth of Andy's filial love for Michael, not having had a relationship with his own father, and the problems his deception threw in the way of that. We all remember how touching the surrogate father/son relationship between Jack and Tyrone was; this could have been fascinating given the complications, the trust-issues &c, but no, as soon as the cat was out of the bag, it was just dropped by the writers. All wasted opportunities.

And can I just say, I CANNOT buy into Eileen & Michael as a couple. When is he going to go back to Gail?


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