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Tuesday 18 July 2017

Situation Vacant

Many characters in Coronation Street are instantly recognisable because of the jobs they do. Rita for instance is and forever will be linked to that Kabin counter and the endless proffering of aniseed balls and pineapple cubes to the toothless residents of Weatherfield. Audrey has, since the days she gave Hilda Ogden a dodgy rinse in Alf's front parlour, been synonymous with standing behind various be-wigged characters, somehow miraculously cutting their barnets with scissors about a mile away from their heads. And Roy's Rolls wouldn't be Roy's Rolls without...Roy! 

The issue of employment pops up frequently in Corrie. Not in the same major plot device way it was used back in the 1970s. In those days an entire week of episodes could be given over to Betty walking out of the Rovers after Annie Walker accused her of nicking Newton and Ridley pint pots (Oh no, hang on, that was only in the imagination of Phil Collinson). Recently, we've seen several characters have their jobs thrust into storylines, with varying degrees of success. First up is the super new Special, Craig Tinker. Craig is shaping up to be the best thing to happen to TV police dramas since Cagney found Lacey. I have loved his involvement in the Bethany story and it has been great to see one of the Street's youth forge ahead with bettering themselves with a noticeable effect.

Craig Tinker they are not!
Less positive is Brian Packham (or BPack as he is apparently known to raven-haired kebab scraper Cathy "Catherine Wheel" Matthews). Personally I preferred "Cathy Come Home" although maybe "Cathy Go Home" would be even better. Brian is very much the 21st Century attempt at a Derek Wilton and while he's not as weak and feeble as Gail's most recent husband (Gail got over that bereavement pretty swiftly), Brian is a bit wet to say the least. I nearly went for mo*st but that takes the blog in a whole different direction. 

BPack's over-bearing, interfering, pedantic council work is supposed to be light relief in amongst the more serious fare Corrie have been feeding us of late. I'm all for a bit of light and shade but I draw the line at BPack brandishing his little litter pincher across Roy's counter display of cream horns and fancies. Hygiene completely out the window and running down the road faster than Phelan's new daughter.

Catherine Wheel
Liz has also had a change of job recently, being dragged out from behind the Rovers bar by her jaggedy necklace. I can't quite come to terms with the idea of no more Landlady Liz. Liz McDonald was a natural fit for the Rovers, standing proudly behind her gleaming pumps...Anyway Elizabeth is now standing slightly less proudly behind the reception of the rarely seen Rosamund Street Medical Centre. She has a rather officious and spiky new boss in Moira (where has she been hiding?). Moira has already had to kick Liz into touch for breaching patient confidentiality for referring to 85 year old Rita's feet giving her bother. I think Moira needs to get a grip, or maybe she hasn't heard of Gail McIntyre who during her time in that role witnessed her deranged husband break in with a sledgehammer to steal drugs before Gail herself was sacked for revealing private medical details of a patient to her son. After all that lot, Rita's corns are a drop in the Zambezi (Club, not River).

It strikes me that there are certain rules that always seem to apply to Coronation Street characters where the world of work is concerned. And here they are:

1. Everyone must work within at least spitting distance of their own front door. Nobody waits on at Delphine's or The Clock anymore. Jobs only ever materialise at the Bistro. Nobody ever ventures to the Trafford Centre for a job, they just add themselves to the payroll in the Underworld Packing Department. 

Liz hopes Moira will like her new look

2. Characters without a fixed role in life never seem to last long in Weatherfield. Everybody needs a purpose and a place to be and be seen. Without that you're pretty much toast. That's probably why Sean Tully has wangled himself seventy-two jobs and yet still no major storylines to speak of. So be careful out there Yasmeen Nazir and your random Community Centre leaflet brandisher/ Roy's Rolls filler in whenever David Neilson has a day off! Seriously though, Yasmeen is an intelligent, thoughtful, eloquent lady - give her something interesting to do which exploits those attributes. And that's not tonging eclairs into a box for Fiz and the faktry girls.

3. Characters move between jobs and take on new jobs with alarming speed. Last Wednesday Liz was all moist-eyed in the back room, bemoaning the end of her days in the hot pot kingdom and then with the briefest flourish of a pair of specs she was off to the Medical Centre to grapple with the appointments system. Gina Seddon got a job in packing with Kirk while the ink was still drying on the script which saw Sally find that heart in a box. And Queen of the Job Swaps is Michelle, although to be fair, she did sleep her way to the top of Victoria Court first. 

Michelle settles in behind the Bistro bar
4. People will strangely come into large sums of previously unheard of cash just as an exciting new business opportunity to invest in the Rovers/Bistro/Faktry/Cab Office comes along. Someone we've never seen before will drop dead and leave a major character a pile of notes. Either that or a timely divorce settlement will come through or if you are of the Barlow persuasion, you'll blackmail or wheedle it out of some poor, unsuspecting simpleton.

5. Characters will always make bizarre, not even in the world of soap is this acceptable, career choices. Look at Toyah Battersby, the beiged-down version. I get that she loves Peter Barlow, well I don't get it but I can see she's smitten. Despite this, she had a successful career as a therapist in Liverpool although once making the move back to Weatherfield, does she pick this up again, no she settles for the odd shift slopping out half pints to Norris in the Rovers. Back to Michelle again. Why does she persist in taking on customer-facing roles when she has the people skills of Rosa Klebb (she of the knife/shoe combo in James Bond) and the temperament of Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie. And as for Dev, would you ever set foot in that Corner Shop knowing he'd be lurking behind the product placement cash machine and before you can reach for the gin? Maggie Clegg he is not! 

Dev's Service at its finest

Weatherfield is obviously in its own little micro-economy. Kevin Webster's garage is about to go under one minute and after a bit of a cash injection from David/Anna, all is forgotten. He must make a mint from that poor sucker whose Fiat Punto has been up on the ramp since Mike Baldwin owned the joint. 

I will finish with some of the Corrie employment pairings which have really made my heart sing. I still pine for the days when Gail and Alma worked together behind the counter of the dirty old caff. I still long for the delicious foursome of Annie, Fred, Bet and Betty at the Rovers, with Hilda popping up in her tabard when you least expected it. Mike Baldwin will always be King of the Faktry, Alf Roberts' spirit is always in that grocer's white coat at the Corner Shop and Rita and Mavis were the Kabin Queens. I still take pleasure in seeing Norris mither away over his liquorice torpedoes; from seeing Gemma in her Eurovision-esque Kebab shop outfit and of course from seeing Roy dither gently in his cardigan as he feeds the faces of folk.

No caption required...
By Graeme Naylor
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Tvor said...

Eileen, Steve and Tim in Streetcars are another trio that works though we don't see as much of Eileen in there as we used to. I do think Tim has filled Lloyd's shoes in the cab office admirably, though.

Carry On Blogging! said...

He has and i really like the banter between Tim and Steve

Humpty Dumpty said...

There ought to be a blog on Nonsense Storylines, or perhaps there already has been. Top of the list, at the moment, is Brian. His storyline belongs to Mr Men. He would be Mr Ridiculous. I get that it's not 'real' but there has to be some truth in comedy if it's a sitcom and, even more so, in a soap. Cathy grinning inanely from the doorway didn't help. They are also in danger of ruining Gemma, who was coming along nicely but is now back to OTT mode. All these job swaps are becoming a writer's in-joke. Why would they be opening a police station, when all over the UK police stations are closing down, other than to give Craig a job on his doorstep? And would the police give Craig a job on his doorstep amongst his friends and family? Agree Tim is brilliant, a master class in under-stated comedy from the actor.

Catsmom said...

I've noticed that these jobs at the Rovers, Dev's shop, etc, just spring up at exactly the right moment for a Corrie character to take. There do seem to be a lot of jobs for such a small street. AND PLEASE TAKE CATHY OUT OF THOSE PIGTAILS, SHE LOOKS HORRIBLE! Yes I know, I was shouting.

Where's Emily?? said...

There was a point when inheriting cash, or owing (as in Kev's case recently) and the sum was always 14,ooo pounds...weird


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