Thursday, 12 October 2017

Five things we've learned from Classic Coronation Street this week


I was overjoyed when the announcement came that ITV3 would start re-running classic episodes of Coronation Street. To begin with, I was disappointed the network wasn't going to show episodes from earlier on - I believe the mid 1970s to early 80s to be the golden age for the show - however I can now see the benefits in starting in 1986. The episodes broadcast this week are modern enough to feature a vast number of characters viewers today will still be aware of, either because they are still regularly on our screens or because their time has only recently been and gone.

Coronation Street in 1986 featured regular characters who stlll appear today - Ken, Rita, Jenny, Audrey, Gail, Sally and Kevin. The likes of Deirdre, Emily, Jack and Vera, Betty and Hilda are still very much in our consciousness too. Early '86 also began some long running stories, introducing Sally Seddon to enliven Kevin's life for many years to come and most of all, the start of the three year Alan Bradley saga. 

I have been tasked with cobbling together a blog on five things we've learned from a week of Classic Coronation Street on ITV3. Week two of Classic Corrie has seen Hilda going from door to door looking for her own storyline, Mike Baldwin owning his sheepskin overcoat retro look and Granada forking out the cash for an outside broadcast at the bins depot just so Curly Watts can overact and snivel about. Oh and Susan Barlow still cannot act for cinder toffee.

Emily tucks in
Pasty-gate with Emily Bishop

Poor Emily seems to have spent much of early 1986 appearing in the background of other stories, shuttling back and forth across the cobbles in her sensible winter coat from Baldwin's Casuals to the Rovers (she drank a lot of pineapple juice it seems). Emily's main role was providing understanding looks to Ken and Deirdre as the Susan and Mike saga dragged on into month three of the year. Sigh. Not only that, Mrs Bishop was then also landlady to drip in a donkey jacket Curly Watts. I often look back at Curly through rose-tinted Deirdre bins however recent viewing of these 1986 episodes has made me realise just how irritating he was. I wouldn't have blamed Terry Duckworth for thumping him either side of the advert breaks. All sympathy for Curly eventually dried up when he mooned about after Susan Barlow for several episodes. What is it with her? Can't they see she's the blight on an otherwise glorious classic Corrie horizon?

Anyway back to the Bish. In yet another scene providing succor to a quite simply undeserving, bouffant Kenneth Barlow, our Emily also has to suffer through a Rovers lunch of beige pasty and pineapple juice. Dame Eileen of Derbyshire toys with the pasty as only a lady of breeding would - delicately with her fork and the sheer skill of her performance makes it look like she's enjoying it as much as Lord Roache of Cheshire who inhales his in an instant while spitting bile about Baldwin. Either that or Ken was secretly wearing the pasty on his head, which would at least explain that awful haircut.
Much more satisfying than a ride in Baldwin's Jag

Barlow's Beetle

Staying with the prodigal son of Weatherfield, in a rare moment of outside filming Ken spluttered down the cobbles in a rust coloured Volkswagen Beetle this week. This is the same motor Ken bought back in 1980 that lovely, kindly old Uncle Albert Tatlock refused to get into, principally because it was "built by the Jerry's". Not one to hold a grudge, our Albert. Or perhaps that was just a front and Albert simply didn't want to sit in Ken's car in case he squished the cream horns he'd just half-inched from the Granada tea trolley (ah, those were the days). Anyway, Ken's wheels clearly show why Deirdre walked away from burgandy coloured Jag driving Mike Baldwin and back into the back seat of Manchester's very own Love Bug. 

Bet is so pleased for Gloria

Gloria Todd - the Tina McIntyre of '86

Years before Sue Jenkins swapped the cobbles of Weatherfield for the glamorous locale known as Brookside Close, she spent a few years behind the bar at the Rovers Return as barmaid Gloria Todd. Gloria was finding herself squarely between Duckworth and son in February '86 and was in danger of sending out signals to beefy young Terry after she asked him to pop round and deal with her sticky sash. This week has seen our Glo receive the attention of a secret admirer after a rose was left on the front step of the Rovers. Bet, the sympathetic kindly employer that she was, gave poor Miss Todd a look that would curdle milk but obviously, this being Corrie, the admirer isn't going to turn out to be Robert Redford. Ok, Gloria didn't end up falling off a balcony and being beaten to death with an iron bar, taking part in a surrogacy that goes terribly wrong or having an affair with Peter Barlow (hers was with Alan Bradley - six of one I suppose) but as drama and intrigue go a rose in a plastic box had to do in 1986.

George Wardle...I mean Sam Tindall

A Blue Rinse Love Triangle

One of the proper joys of these old episodes is becoming reacquainted with gravel-voiced Phyllis Pearce, beautifully played with grit, warmth and weary charm by Jill Summers. Phyllis first turned up in Corrie in 1982 as a relation of the instantly forgettable Chalkie Whitely and his grandson Craig. By 1986 she was a regular character, eking out her pension with shifts in a floral tabard at a rather grimy Jim's Cafe alongside Gail the Wail and a pimply Martin Platt. The main storyline for Phyllis as the years ticked by was her unrequited love for Tatlock replacement, Percy Sugden. Mrs Pearce was a racy girl and probably too much of a handful for our Perce, more at home in the Community Centre flat with his budgie and a nice tin of Spam.

Things were hotting up for Phyllis in February 1986 though as she became embroiled in a rather slow-moving love triangle which made Susan and Mike's affair look as appealing as a night in with Ivy Tilsley and an individual fruit trifle. Phyllis found herself enamoured with a quavering-voiced, cagoule wearing pensioner by the name of Sam Tindall. Mr Tindall was now clearly filling the void left by last week's George Wardle as the mid-80s character we'd all rather forget, if we could actually remember him in the first place. Sam was one of those characters you'd get back then who you were never quite sure would get to the end of their dialogue without drying up. Despite Phyllis and her fruity suggestions, I doubt Sam Tindall was up to much and the only thing Randy about Mr Sugden was his pet budgie.

Move Over Rio Rita...

Finally this week we learned that back in the day our Jenny Bradley was a bit of a songstress. She spent much of this past week 31 years ago exiting stage left for a bit of late night band practice while estranged dad Alan and foster mum Reet Petite got cosy on that awful brown patterned sofa. Jenny B was so into her rehearsals that she turned down a Chinese meal in the company of Alan and Rita in favour of banging out some tunes with her mates. Mind you, given that Mike and Susan ended up at the same restaurant, it was probably a wise move. 

This got me thinking. Perhaps with Rita in no fit state to fill the role of resident songbird these days, our Jenny could rediscover her musical roots. What about Weatherfield's very own answer to Bucks Fizz (continuing the eighties theme). Sal, Jenny B (or is that C now?) Kev and Tim could form Milk Stout! Ena Sharples would be turning in her hairnet. 

Until next week!

Classic Coronation Street is broadcast on ITV3 every week day at 14.40 and 15.15, repeated from 6am the next day.

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Lily Bigfield said...

I'm enjoying your witty Classic Corrie posts as much as the episodes themselves Graeme. Long may they both continue. They're far more entertaining than dreary Current Corrie, and give me a warm nostalgic glow. Just what I need these autumn evenings!

Graeme N said...

Oh thank you very much! I'm really enjoying blogging about the old episodes :)

corrierules said...

Graeme, so happy to hear you are enjoying this gig, because these posts are brilliant! Loved the sly reference to Jack Howarth's habit of stuffing pastries in his pockets. I remember reading about that in Bill Podmore's excellent memoir.

Anonymous said...

Lovely review. The actor who played Sam, Tom Mennard, lived in a house called Upham Hall. My type of humour.

Graeme N said...

Thank you! I love that name too!

Graeme N said...

Thanks! I appreciate your kind comments! I also enjoyed Podmore's biography as you can tell!

Martin Leay said...

Great round-up Graeme. I'm enjoying your pieces alongside the episodes! I've learnt that 1986 Terry Duckworth is nicer than I expected him to be, while Jack is less so with his constantly roving eye.

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