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Tuesday 9 June 2020

Towards a new Corrie normal

I was planning to write a blog post about how my relationship with Coronation Street has changed since this time last year. It was going to be titled “Corrie is what happens while you're busy making other plans” because although I had started to drift apart from my favourite programme, I never imagined a situation where Corrie might go off air.

But when COVID-19 hit and ITV pulled production, this was suddenly a possibility. Indeed, Corrie fans were facing a Weatherfield-shaped hole in the TV schedule from the end of June. 

It now looks like this scenario will be avoided. If all goes well with the resumption of filming today, Coronation Street will continue with three episodes per week in July. This is good news. I may have partially cut the Corrie apron strings but I really would miss it if it stopped.

Earlier this year, my Mum – the other great constant in my life – sadly passed away. She was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and we lost her in January. So, while all this was going on, Corrie went from being an instrumental part of my life to something much more incidental. It was still there in the background, but I just didn’t fancy escaping my own life to tune in to difficult storylines like Paul’s historic child abuse, Carla’s psychosis and of course Sinead’s battle with cancer. These are all important subjects, but not ones I wanted to distract myself with. So, I switched off.

I associate Coronation Street with my Mum. Watching it now is tinged with sadness because we can’t talk over the storylines and discuss all the spoilers like we used to. But the show must go on and I’m pleased to say I’ve been enjoying Corrie in recent months. Things aren’t much lighter in Weatherfield but there are still plenty of lovely bits in between the relentless issue-based bits.

Over the past few weeks, Evelyn and Arthur’s friendship has provided some sweet exchanges between two terrific actors. Roy and Nina are great too, and the recent Cradle of Filth reference was a nice touch. The band certainly enjoyed it judging by the tweet below, which was picked up by the metal magazine Kerrang!

And although it’s a horrible storyline, I did enjoy this conversation between Sally and Tim last week: “Your Dad’s been seeing escorts” … “What, is he after a new car?” Classic Corrie!

It feels normal to be watching Coronation Street again and it has provided me with comfort during the coronavirus pandemic. As noted by many on this site, three episodes a week is much more manageable. I’ve been able to miss a whole week and catch up in my dinner hour! And last night’s unintended two-day cliffhanger over Yasmeen's plea was truly gripping.

Corrie has been part of my lockdown routine in other ways too. It’s been tough balancing working from home with constant childcare, but I have really improved my Play-Doh skills since March. I’ve made many characters from children’s TV for my daughter and the odd politician for colleagues at work. I’ve now branched out into Corrie characters. Look, here’s Bet Lynch!

Another hobby I’ve taken up is colouring. In 2016, ITV published an official Coronation Street colouring book featuring classic scenes from the show’s history. Glenda, the esteemed editor of this Blog, chose the images and wrote the descriptions for the scenes, as well as the introduction to the book. In fact, I bought it for my Mum that year for Christmas and she loved relaxing with her Corrie colouring.

I was also given a copy as a very thoughtful Secret Santa present at work. After nearly four years, I have finally made a start on it with this picture of the Newton and Ridley sign on the side of the Rovers:

I can see why adult colouring is so popular and I look forward to tackling some more complex scenes. I’m going to stick with Coronation Street as I continue to adapt to the new normal in my life. Whatever happens, Corrie will always be a part of who I am, and I hope it will always be there.

My Mum loved hearing about my visits to the Corrie set with this Blog and she was the only person in the world who read all my posts! She’d say lovely but ludicrous things like “I can see you becoming a writer for Corrie one day.” I can’t, but if I were at the story conference in Salford Quays today, I’d support the approach of referencing coronavirus on screen. It can’t be ignored. Nor should it be.

That said, it would be nice if we could have a few things to smile about among the public health reminders and two-metre spaced queues outside Co-op. So, here are my top ten plots to pitch for the new normal in Weatherfield:

  • Compulsory face coverings on public transport. Hopefully, the residents of Coronation Street will continue to avoid non-essential travel (most of them work within walking distance of where they live, right?) but key workers such as nurse Aggie Bailey could be seen boarding the Weatherfield Wayfarer or alighting the tram at Weatherfield North in a mask. I’m not sure who the current Mayor of Weatherfield is, but I reckon a policy like this would need to be rolled out across Greater Manchester by Andy Burnham.

  • The Government needs to step up its efforts to get track and trace up and running. Perhaps a pilot in Weatherfield might be on the cards. Jenny Connor would be a good volunteer to test out this new technology – she knows a thing or two about tracking apps.
  • Talking of Jenny, how about a virtual Rovers pub quiz when the Connors return from France? They’ll have to do 14 days in quarantine first, mind.
  • While the Connors are self-isolating, Carla could use her negotiating skills to lead the campaign for a one-metre social distancing rule to safeguard the survival of the Rovers.
  • If Sean is currently furloughed from the Rovers and/or Underworld, then maybe he could broadcast a kitchen disco live from Eileen’s, a la Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
  • Kirk could stream lockdown gigs from his front room. Who wouldn’t want to tune in to see live acoustic versions of ‘Our Souls’ and ‘A Nice Pair of Puppies’ over Zoom?

  • Peter is a Barlow. He has a Barlow soul. I’d like to see him take up poetry but more successfully than his old man. I can picture Peter as a Mancunian punk poet: a cross between Tony Walsh and John Cooper Clarke, with a bit of Barry Kent from the Adrian Mole series circa 1985-87.

  • Here’s an idea – how about David stops running to escape from violent situations of his own making and simply runs for pleasure with Craig? While observing social distancing, obviously.
  • Let’s see Yasmeen’s trial conclude (via video-link?) with the book finally thrown at Geoff. Hard.
  • And please, let’s have some happiness. I’d like to see Evelyn and Arthur meet up at the Red Rec with flasks of tea and fold-up chairs for dates from a distance. That would be nice.

It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how Corrie continues in the Coronavirus Street era. I hope the return to filming is successful and that all cast and crew, and bloggers and commentators here, stay safe and well. Let me know what you’d like to see when Corrie returns. And if you’ve got any requests for Corrie characters sculpted from Play-Doh, please tweet them in my direction @mpleay!

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to the memory of my Mum, Glenys (1949-2020). She was a wonderful woman and although taken from us too soon, we were blessed to have her in our lives. I hope you can still watch Corrie, Mum, wherever you are. 

By Martin Leay
Twitter @mpleay
Corrie Blogs @

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Anonymous said...

Martin, please accept my deepest sympathy at the loss of your beloved Mum

fairycake said...

God's Blessings to you and yours, Martin. You are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. X

Louby said...

Deepest condolences Martin.

I do like your play doh Bet. It would be great to see some more classic characters portrayed this way, how about Elsie, Vera and Raquel?

Lily Bigfield said...

What a wonderful post Martin, and a touching tribute to your lovely mum. Like you, Corrie has been part of my life. I used to watch it with my mum too, and in classic Corrie I'm aware we will be approaching the last episodes we watched together. Bittersweet memories. Corrie can still be a joy, and a comfort too, even though I've galloped past some of the overburdening of 'issues' in recent times, I look forward to watching, and have enjoyed the daily dose of classic Corrie even more in lockdown. Familiar friends, popping in for a daily natter. Perfect! I've not turned to Corrie related creativity yet, but you have inspired me to consider fetching out my great niece's playdoh set to try a Deirdre figure!
My sincere condolences on your loss.

Unknown said...

Hello from across the Atlantic in Ontario Canada. I'd like to offer my condolences in the loss of your mom. I wondered if you know if someone else has taken over directing coronation Street? It seems to me that the shots are much different. We, in Canada, are today watching the scene in the Bistro where racist words were close-spoken.The close-ups seem closer than before. Can anyone tell me? Thank you

Martin Leay said...

Thanks very much for all the comments. I suppose Corrie stays with us through good times and bad. Elsie, Vera, Raquel and Deirdre - all great choices. Someone also suggested Nina on Twitter! I’m not sure about the direction but I think there is a team of Directors and different techniques do get used from time to time.


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