Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Week In Classic Corrie

MONDAY - Episodes originally transmitted 1st and 3rd May 1989

It was a long dark night of soul searching on the Street.  Alec came back to a Bet-free pub, and was less than thrilled when she rolled in with Paul Rigby at midnight.  He immediately assumed she was having an affair, despite her protestations, and when she tried to win him over with a champagne dinner he told her he wanted a divorce.  NOOOOOOOO!  Above the Kabin, Derek fretted about losing his job, eventually taking the extremely mature decision to just not tell his wife about it and pretend everything was fine.  Unfortunately, Mavis phoned him at work and was told the truth.  Nicky Tilsley, meanwhile, was missing his dad and wondering when he'd come back, because apparently Gail just never got round to telling him he'd been murdered.  After three months!  He ran away from home to look for Brian, meaning we got lots of shots of Warren Jackson vacantly staring at the camera while he waited for his turn to speak, like a particularly dull Midwich Cuckoo.  He went to the garage, and Mark took him home, despite him never having even talked to Gail to my knowledge.  Everyone was suitably grateful, and Ivy promised to buy him a pint every day for saving her grandson.  I bet that lasted, at most, a week.

TUESDAY - Episodes originally broadcast 8th and 10th May 1989

The War of the Gilroys continued, a Cuban Missile-style standoff only with huge shoulder pads.  Bet went to see a young Diggory Compton, who at this point was a solicitor instead of a baker, and implied that Alec and the budgerigar-toting stripper Meghan had been having it away in the Middle East.  Betty rightly spotted that the two of them were just too bloody minded to apologise for their respective failings, but they poured cold water on her interfering.  Derek was also furious with an interfering staff member, this time Rita, who he accused of undermining him to Mavis just because she suggested it might not be a good idea to take on a mortgage when you don't have a job.  He refused to see any sense throughout, blithely acting as though another job would fall in his lap, until he finally broke down to Mavis.  Ivy whispered in Gail's ear that she'd probably be a much better mother if she stayed at home and looked after the kids; Gail rightly pointed out that she was a mother, yes, but she was also her own woman, and she needed a job to keep her sane.  And Curly was settling into Jack and Vera's, having been evicted from the shop flat; he gobbled down the Hobnobs while Vera made him breakfast in bed, so he had no reason to ever leave.

WEDNESDAY - Episodes originally broadcast 15th and 17th May 1989

Today's episodes concentrated mainly on bad customer service.  Alma was throwing her weight around at the cafe, putting the price of a cup of tea up to the eye-watering forty pence (this scared Percy off, which would be job done for me, but made Phyllis wonder what the point of coming in was any more).  This version of Alma is a haughty bossy cow, which is completely at odds with the national treasure she evolved into.  When she decided to cut Phyllis and Christine (yes she's still in it, uncertainly wheeling her sandwich bike around) down to part-time, Gail put on her coat and quit.  In the midst of all this, poor old Sam Tindall made his final appearance, looking as hangdog as usual.  When a customer couldn't pay his fare, Don took his greyhound as collateral; he then decided to keep it, which annoyed Ivy, because (a) she didn't want a dog (b) greyhounds mean gambling, and we know what happened last time Don gambled and (c) it chewed up her settee.  At the Rovers, Alec had sacked Bet, leaving them short-staffed; she took the opportunity to laze around in the back room and refuse to do any housework.  It looked like there might be a ray of sanity in this as Stella Rigby arrived to tell Alec his wife wasn't Paul's type because he liked them young and naive, reminding us all that Paul Rigby is a really creepy old perv.  Alec said he'd caught Bet and Paul at it, and that the staff all knew about it too, leading to Bet telling him that he was spreading his own truth, not reality; yes, Fake News was a thing in 1989.  Betty asked Bet how she could be so chipper, and she replied with one of the finest pieces of dialogue in the history of the show: "It's not really a smile - it's the lid on a scream."

THURSDAY - Episodes originally broadcast 22nd and 24th May 1989

Alec had reached a breaking point: no clean shirts.  He begged Bet to do one for him, then, when she refused, he hired a housekeeper - first a grumpy agency woman who was soon scared off, then budgie-toting exotic dancer Meghan.  This was the point where my patience with this storyline wore out: it's bad enough seeing the Gilroys make such a fuss about nothing, without Alec panicking at having to do ironing and Bet affronted by a charwoman in her domain.  It's 1989!  By the episode's end Bet had reached the end of her tether too, and walked out of the Rovers.  Ivy changed out of her bizarre towelling robe to join Don, Audrey and Alf at the track to race their greyhound.  Unfortunately their dog turned out to be a pup.  Alma's reign of terror continued at the cafe; she fired Phyllis after she told Percy to stop whining and drink his tea and she criticised Christine for trying to get extra orders.  She finally twigged she needed help, and went crawling back to Gail, offering her a share in the cafe and the role of manageress.

FRIDAY - Episodes originally broadcast 29th and 31st May 1989

The Rovers was falling apart as the Bet and Alec divorce plot entered its fifth week.  It was amusing at first, when it looked like a bump in the road, but its unconvincing twists and inability to decide if it's funny or heartbreaking are dragging the show down.  In these episodes Betty quit the Rovers, as she is legally required to do at least once a year, while Meghan was getting a little too cosy with Alec for his liking.  Jack, meanwhile, snuck off to the brewery to grass the Gilroys up, letting them know that Bet had moved out and that the Duckworths would be more than willing to take over the pub to stop it falling apart.  Don had gone sour on Lucky the greyhound since it lost at the track, saying the original owner conned him (and conveniently forgetting he refused to give it back when the old owner begged him - Don's ability to blame everyone else when he's at fault is a real wonder).  By now Ivy had grown attached, so when Audrey suggested that they race the dog themselves, she took her up on the offer.  Audrey was only doing it because she was bored and, she said, couldn't be bothered getting a toyboy.  Derek was cajoled into going for a job by Mavis, and swung it by necking a whiskey at lunchtime and acting like a "bloke".  It turned out the job involved flogging tacky novelties across the north west; the pathetic image of Derek pumping a pneumatic frog to make it hop will be one I'll take to the grave.

If you also think Phyllis Pearce is the greatest and could do a lot better than miserable old Percy, please feel free to discuss it with me on Twitter @merseytart.

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