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Tuesday 26 January 2016

Carla and Roy - the Best of the Best on Coronation Street

Let’s start with the good news. Although Roy, played by David Neilson, is leaving it is only temporarily, and for just three months. He’ll be treading the boards in theatre and wherever he is and whoever has the opportunity to work with him and watch his performances are lucky indeed.

His twenty year run as Roy Cropper has from the very beginning charmed a nation. Diffident, trustworthy, wise, kind, thoughtful, reliable – are just some of Roy Cropper’s qualities. His particular charm comes out of his being somewhere on the Asperger’s scale so he takes things that people say literally and thus frequently misses the humour that is intended. He misses the nuances of what people mean and has to have things explained in literal terms.

His anorak, his shopping bag and the Woody place him in a former time – a gentler time, a less technologically obsessed time - a time when the nation’s main pastime was not shopping or consuming, television was not available for 24 hours and shops weren’t open on a Sunday and there was half day closing on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons, depending on your region.

He loved Hayley, through and through and she loved him the same way. How surprising then that this much loved couple were indeed that – much loved. Not in any sense flashy, not wealthy, not fashionable, but two people of first class characteristics. Each brought out the best in the other and there is not much more you can ask for in this life.

His childhood with a mother such as Sylvia cannot have been easy, especially for someone like Roy who, finding himself to be at odds with other children would have benefited from a fierce and demonstrative mother’s love. Nobody said life was fair and for Roy, with a mother who, currently, is putting her energies into sending away carers by the bucket load. No wonder Roy became a major procrastinator as Cathy tried to persuade him to go to Hastings.

To briefly revisit Hayley’s illness and death, and it does bear repeating, that the trip to Blackpool and especially the dancing in the Tower Ballroom was a wondrous television soap moment or two.

Roy’s friendship with Carla is a masterstroke by the writers. On paper it shouldn’t work. In reality it clearly does work. Their friendship developed over the course of Hayley’s diagnosis, illness and death. The actors, David Neilson and Alison King, are at the top of their craft and in their capable hands, almost anything would work

Put simply, Roy is unique. He is in the midst of the community in Roy’s Rolls and yet he is, and always will be, a man apart
As for Carla, played so brilliantly by Alison King, I will miss her greatly. When it was first announced that Alison King would be leaving, I am pretty sure that it was to be a temporary absence and that Alison King had every intention of reprising her role as Carla Connor. Then it was reported that the break wasn’t temporary, in fact it wouldn’t be a break at all. She was leaving the cobbles. For good.

Carla is riddled with faults. She drinks too much, she gambles, she sometimes engages in destructive relationships and she has taken other women’s husbands – Liam Connor, who was married to Maria and Peter Barlow, who was with Leanne.

Carla though has had bad things happen to her: her childhood, her brother murdering Tina, the discovery that Johnny is her father, being raped by Frank Foster, Peter’s affair with Tina, to list just some.

Carla though, to my mind anyway, is the most interesting of the women on the cobbles. Alison King succeeds in conveying Carla’s toughness along with her vulnerability. Her need for independence is a part of her and yet the temptation to throw in the towel with Nick, who undoubtedly loves her, as she only too well recognises, is an answer for her, a resolution. Sadly, it seems to me that Nick is more of a safe bet than the man of her dreams, an answer and a solution to her persistent insecurity.

Carla is a force of nature: charismatic, intelligent, sometimes moody, tough with her staff though occasionally appreciative and kind. She has the measure of Sally, but recognises her organisational skills outweigh the irritation she causes.

What really put her at the top of the tree in my eyes, was the love and care she showed for Hayley. Two unlikely women to forge such a friendship but the genius of Alison King and Julie Hesmondalgh combined, made it work - and it was sublime.

After Hayley’s death, Carla did not walk away and leave Roy stranded She went out of her way to show her friendship towards him and now, the two of them have developed a friendship which is only pure and good. In so many friendships, one may be using the other to exert power or to claim some kind of advantage for themselves. Not so here. The two of them genuinely look out for each other.

Whether a temporary or permanent departure, not having these two on our screens is a great loss for us all.

Ruth Owen, twitter @Ruth1722


Lorna said...

I entirely agree. I for one will miss Roy and Carla a great deal.

Anonymous said...

I will also miss Carla greatly. Perhaps it is not my position to say, but I honestly feel that her decision to leave was based on how the character of Carla has been presented of late - no longer the strong willed person who was capable of achieving great things over the worst odds, her loveless homelife growing up, the many men in her life who were loosers, she never let them get her down completely, until now - the writers somehow, have changed her into a blubbering, addictive, vindictive woman with no redeeming characteristics. In her years on the street she has devoted a lot of time and energy into developing her character only to have it torn to shreds by the likes of Stuart Blackburn and his new crop of writers. I have no doubt that she will find many more opportunities after Corrie to realize her full potential as an actor and shine on the stage.

Anonymous said...

Roy I'll was a big mistake IMO that they killed off Haley. Carla..not so much..her time is at an end.

vintgal003 said...

VERY well written Ruth....a real pleasure to read your commentary!

Anonymous said...

I honestly would've liked to see Audrey and Ken develop a genuine friendship like Roy and Carla - that would have made a lot of sense for both characters at this particular time in their lives.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I am a Corrie fan who also watches EastEnders and Emmerdale and without a doubt, the friendship between Roy and Carla is one of the few things I believe the writers have got absolutely right in the last few years. No other soap has a Roy Cropper, no other soap has a Carla Connor and no other soap has a friendship as endearing as Roy and Carla's.

Corrie without either of these actors just doesn't bear thinking about.

Ruth owen said...

Thank you very much indeed vintga1003, very kind of you and much appreciated. .

Anonymous said...

I don't even want to watch Corrie if Roy isn't going to be on. Carla, I just find annoying most of the time. She has no personality, no consistency. She's a caricature, stomping and flouncing around the cobbles in her heels -- she's just a vortex of drama. How many times has she almost died now? I'm counting about 6 or 7..maybe 8? One day she's an alcoholic whose life it completely out of control and then, with no program or counselling or anything she's all better and can go back to drinking in high moderation like everyone else on the show. She can't be alone for 5 minutes without a man. Her and Nick together are nauseating. She apparently has a successful business but never seems to be working and never conducts herself like a businessperson. She's tedious and I won't be sad to see her finally go. C.C.

Ancient corrier said...

I'm glad I'm not alone, I don't like Carla either, so inconsistent, and not very nice. I won't miss her at all. Having said that,I think Alison King is a brilliant actress and wish her the best for the future.

C in Canada said...

Regarding Anon's post above me.
What you have described could be part of why she is leaving. She's had so much drama in her life, almost never ending, that it could be wearing her down. I'll bet she's exhausted.
I don't agree that she's tedious though - she's one of my favorite characters who can do drama, empathy, nerves of steel or showing herself at the bottom of the barrel.
It's too bad that they didn't give her breaks here and there by putting her in the 'cupboard' from time to time, instead of nonstop high drama storylines.
Her leaving is going to leave a massive hole in the show.
At least Roy's coming saving grace.

Newfy Pearl said...

Roy has never been diagnosed with Asperger's. Don't give the writers ideas

bluegardenia said...

First of all to Ruth Owen...your critique is stunningly written and absolutely dead on. Roy Cropper and Carla Connor are among the most real characters on the entire show. Fortunately, Roy will only be leaving for a short while. However, I am devastated to learn that Alison King is leaving the show permanently. I disagree with those that have yet to appreciate all that is Carla Connor/Alison King. If she has lacked anything at all in her portrayal it is the fault of the writers not the actress. There isn't another woman on the show that comes close to the charisma that is Carla Connor....with the exception of Rita. I also blame the show for her permanent leave taking. Surely, they could have made her an offer to stay that she would have been hard pressed to say "no" to. So many good characters have left the show...and not been replaced by actors who can hold a candle to those who have left. Eileen is wearing thin...Gail is nauseating. Luke is just is his sister and her boyfriend...Micheal is useless. CS needs a good shake up!!~!

Fay said...

Very well written Ruth, thank you. I agree with you about both characters and actors. This why we watch and love Corrie.

C in Canada said...

As an aside to my earlier post - I'm not sure about the UK, but in Canada, Asperger's is not part of the ASD spectrum anymore. It's been simply taken out and replaced by Autism. My son is high functioning ASD and I see a lot of the same 'features' in my son as I do in Roy. (Being literal, needing that 'personal space' around him, not getting sarcasm/jokes, that sort of thing.)
I can only hope my son grows up to be like Roy :)

I think Roy is probably on the ASD spectrum, but not in a severe sense.

I agree though, don't give the writers any ideas.
Royston's perfect as he is!

also Canada said...

By the time people understood the term Aspergers they took it out of the book... It's still a term people use to describe the Roys of the world to imply high functioning. Maybe not medically correct usage, but people "get" it (usually)


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