Wednesday, 31 October 2012

State of the Street - October 2012

Maria went through hell thinking she might have breast cancer. I know that we went through this with Sally 2 years ago and people complain about repeat storylines. But breast cancer is more and more common. It isn't out of the ordinary that another resident in the same Street would either get it or have a lump and have to go through this. Luckily, Maria was clear and the main reason for the storyline was to be the catalyst to put Maria and Marcus in each other's radar. That's another really good storyline. It really can happen, a gay man can sometimes find he's attracted to a woman, especially in this case.

Marcus and Maria are best friends and very close. He adores her and the little one and that's a strong pull too since he wants a family so much. This isn't a case of him not being gay anymore, it's a case of him finding he's attracted to someone he never expected to be. He's not on the other team now, Maria is likely the exception to the rule. Will it last? Will it go the distance? Probably not but I think between these two friends, it will be handled really well.

Lewis did a runner after seeing a woman he conned in the past. Of course Audrey found out all about it and paid the woman off. Now Gail is intent on proving that he's scamming Audrey. Is she right? Can a leopard change his spots or not? Well it looks very much like Gloria is scamming Lewis and judging from some of the looks i've seen Gail give, she's in on it too. 

Lloyd and Jenna are getting to know each other and they quite like each other but Jenna spent most of the month angry at her mother. Well no wonder! Lloyd really feels caught in the middle and again, no wonder. It's all turned out ok in the end, you knew it would. Jenna has forgiven her mother and Mandy and Lloyd look like they'll be a couple again. After all, she was the love of his life (this week). For Jenna, it must really have felt like a betrayal but without being in her mother's shoes, how would she know how she herself would handle such a situation?

You think you would know but would you really raise a child with a man who loves you and the baby and tell the child from the start that she's the result of an affair? I don't think so. Adoption is different but even some kids who find out they're adopted don't take it very well. I really like this storyline, because I really like all three characters and the actors are very good. I've always liked Lloyd and this is the best storyline he's haver had! The Cheryl business is best forgotten. It did us no favours.

Tyrone is not legally Ruby's father on paper. Now he's going to have to stay with Kirsty to keep the baby and that's exactly what Kirsty planned. Even though she didn't know for sure that he wanted to end it, she did the deed as insurance and she can really be calculating, we've already seen that. In order to get a DNA test to prove it in court, he'd have to get her permission. If he tried to get the sample by subterfuge like Kevin did, Kirsty's solicitor would make mincemeat out of him but he'd still have the proof. She wanted to go live a life so she's got what she asked for. Tyrone's going to be the stay at home dad and make her go back to work. Things have gone quiet but you know they'll heat up again and even while things are ok, Tyrone is still guarded and watching Kirsty with a shadow of fear in his eyes. You can't sustain love with that hanging over it.

Meanwhile Fiz, who knows the truth, is giving Tyrone knowing looks, watching Kirsty like a hawk and can't stop herself sometimes from winding Kirsty up. Anyone that's watched soaps as long as I have can see where this is going. If Ty and Fiz don't actually get back together, they'll have a snog at some point. Kirsty will go ballistic, she will also find out that Tyrone has confided in Fiz and it will be game on. Maybe that will be the point where she hits the wall and finally gets help. I hope she does because I don't want to lose Natalie Gumede. She's too good!

One of the bigger stories of the month is the return of Wendy Crozier into Deirdre and Ken's lives. I don't blame Deirdre for being upset. Ken has a long history of affairs and even at 73 he's not likely changed his spots yet. It wasn't that long ago he was ready to sail away on the canal. I think the more suspicion that Deirdre lays on Ken over Wendy, the more he's going to end up feeling pushed into it. It would be really nice for it *not* to end in an affair this time! But then you know what will happen. He won't have the affair but Deirdre won't believe him, after his habit of a lifetime.

I can't say I am enjoying the Rovers' entry into the pub of the year contest. It was all right, Gloria was good in it but it's been a bit flat and non-funny even though I think it's meant to be. Except it was quite funny watching Dennis get legless on free drinks that one day. Dennis Tanner, the traditional cheeky scammer!

I don't understand why David and Kylie are so broke. I adore Kylie and now she's trying to make something more of herself and David isn't being very helpful. I can see his point, that the salon will be overstaffed but that's no reason why he can't at least start training her and encourage her to go to college to get qualified. She's working for Nick now and I really hope that they don't have her making a play for him as the more ambitious brother. Nick won't take her up on it, I'm pretty sure, even if, when Peter gets back, he and Leanne end up together. (no spoiler, I have no idea what's going to happen when Peter and Carla return, I'm only guessing)

Tracy's plans to wind up Steve and Michelle as revenge did a lot of damage. Little by little, we discover what we already figured out that not only was Tracy using Ryan, but she pretended to be pregnant, then, conveniently, wasn't after all, just "late" in spite of that trip to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy, and Ryan's world came crashing down when he realized it all.

Michelle's too, when Steve stupidly decided to break up with her as a ruse to push Tracy away from Ryan and not tell Michelle about the plan. Granted, her reaction was much more genuine that way but it isn't going to serve him well in the long run. Michelle might have taken him back but  Old mate Rob is all too willing to pick up the pieces when he messes up again and he will because he's Steve. Steve really is a plonker. How many of his Really Good Ideas have ever been that? I never liked Steve and Michelle together and I still don't.

Horrible storyline all around. Maybe not the worst ever but anything that features Tracy, Ryan and Michelle is never going to be anything I enjoy. The actor playing Ryan can't act and can't speak properly, Kym Lomas and Kate Ford are marginally better than they used to be but still not on the list of best performers in the cast.

What I have enjoyed, much to my surprise is the Cafe's international nights. Mary has gone over the top as usual but this Mary is back to the original concept of the character. Daft, over-enthusiastic, with a competitive edge rather than the shrewish, mean, almost-stalker she'd become for awhile. A night every few weeks shouldn't make that much of a dent in the Bistro's pockets, considering most of the punters after the first night were the usual crowd who don't usually eat in the Bistro anyway but the Bistro serving cheap breakfast every day definitely hurt the cafe and that wasn't fair at all.

You could see the theme nights getting more and more boozy and out of hand and sure enough Roy arrived home in the middle of a Greek fiasco. Was he right in banning Mary from the cafe, even as a customer? Well she's done a lot of iffy things in the past and I think she's well and truly burned her bridges. He accused her of living out her fantasies and that's exactly right. Yes, she was doing it to bring extra business in for Roy but had she been content to keep it to one or two theme nights, he might have been ok with it. But as per usual, Mary goes way too far. Ah, but now Nick has hired her to do theme nights once a week at the Bistro. Can you see Gail and Kylie putting up with her bullying? Perhaps Nick has the strength to put his foot down if she's going too far out.

Overall a mixed bag of a month. I've enjoyed a lot of the storylines, big and small. We're ramping up to Christmas and Sophie's recovery from her accident. I expect Ryan's addiction will be miraculously cured now he's promised her he won't do drugs again. It's a soap, of course Sophie will walk again with hard work and you realize, we do have a physical therapist in the cast now so it will be Jenna that pushes her along. I expect a Christmas miracle. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

A new twist on the standard love story

Soaps are all about love stories, affairs, triangles. Star crossed lovers who are destined to be together no matter who they are with in the meantime. People fall in love with a bad'un who hurts them emotionally, or worse. Some people have a long history of losing in love. Sometimes love is found in unexpected places.

We've had all that on Coronation Street and are about to explore a new twist on the "unexpected places" type of love story. We have a pretty hairdresser, a single mother in her late 20s. She's not had much luck with men and seems to choose the wrong one over and over. We have a kind, gentle gay man in his early 30s, recently split from a partner and longing for a family of his own. The two of them have become close, best friends, and are sharing a flat. He gets on really well with her brother who also lives in the flat and her little boy, a mutual admiration thing going on there.

He was her rock when she thought she had breast cancer. He was terrified to lose his friend and was overjoyed when she was given the all clear. They had champagne, she kissed him, and... what? He kissed her back? And he really did kiss her back, properly. They were then, in the tradition of soaps, interrupted by her boyfriend, local builder who has also not had a lot of luck with women over the years.

Thus we have Maria, Marcus and Jason. In comments from blog readers, there has been dismay and even outrage. There is concern that the powers that be are sending the wrong message, that a gay man could be "turned" by the right woman. That this never could happen in real life. They're wrong, at least about that second statement. It could and has happened in real life. People can't always control where they find love. Sometimes it's with the least expected person. Sometimes it's still not Forever After but even so, it does happen.

Poor Marcus was stunned, shocked and confused that he reacted the way he did. He had the biggest WTF look on his face I've ever seen! Marcus had never even tried to kiss a girl or woman ever, he protested, where has this come from? They've decided to write it off as a one -off, a reaction to the stress, relief and alcohol. But it isn't going to go away. It's going to be the elephant in the room even while Maria tries to make a go of things with Jason and Marcus tries to keep his relationship going with Aiden.

I don't know where it's going and I don't know how long it will last. I am, however, confident that the producers are not going to send the wrong message out. I believe that Marcus and Maria will not be Love's Young Dream in the end. I do hope their friendship will not disintegrate because of it but that they will agree that it isn't working. Marcus will know down deep that this isn't right for him and it's not who he is.

Marcus has always known and been confident in himself as long as we've known him. We also know Marcus would dearly love to have a family and has fallen in love with Maria's little family as much as anything. She offers him a son, and he loves her as his best friend. I really think this whole situation is going to be handled sensitively and realistically, as much as television ever can be. This doesn't feel to me to be played for sensation. Charlie Condou who plays Marcus has supported the storyline and I think that he would object strenuously if it was not played honestly.

Marcus and Maria truly seem to be an Odd Couple at the moment but that's not new for Corrie. Roy and Hayley were truly one of life's Odd Couples and they fit together like a scissors, working perfectly together and are one of the show's most and probably only stable couple.  Anyone with Kirk makes an Odd Couple but, oddly, it usually works. Could there have been an odder couple at first glance than Alf and Audrey?

I think that the early objecters and worriers should sit back and see where it goes and how it's handled first. We've only just cracked the seal on the storyline, it's far too soon to decide it's been a really bad idea. I don't always have faith in the producers because they certainly have come up with clunkers in the past, but I'm willing to wait and see on this one and am optimistic that it will be an interesting take on love stories. Marcus and Maria will probably not be the next Roy and Hayley, but I will find their journey interesting.

Monday, 15 October 2012

An old mystery solved and a potted history of Irma Ogden

In early 1964, Sandra Gough began playing Irma Ogden. She stayed in Corrie until 1968 when David Rothwell, who played her husband on screen, David Barlow, wanted to leave. He'd delayed his departure because he knew the producers would also write out Sandra if he left but she agreed and went.

In 1970, the producers wanted to bring the couple back but only Sandra said she'd return. They had David along with their little boy die in a car crash in Australia where the characters had emigrated and brought Irma back to Coronation Street. It was up and down for the character and in 1971, the character just disappeared off screen, apparently claiming illness. She returned briefly and left again later that same year and the publicity hit the newspapers that Sandra Gough was fired though she was quoted as saying "I was taking more and more time off, hoping that they would sack me. I was sick of being Irma. It was driving me mad."

Recently, during the new seasons of The Corrie Years featuring ex-Corrie actors and what happened to them after they left the show, Sandra Gough admitted she'd left Granada high and dry, walking out after she'd asked repeatedly to be written out of the show to no avail. She felt bad for doing it but was apparently dealing with her mother who had a serious illness. She admitted she did call her bosses and said she wasn't coming back but the media didn't get that message and it was all a bit mystery at the time.

Now that the mystery is solved, here's a bit of a history of Irma Ogden Barlow:

Irma was one of four Ogden children. Her name was originally Freda but she changed it, thinking Irma was more glamourous. She left home at 15 due to her father's tendency to violence. She arrived in the Street early in 1964. Her family's rough reputation preceded their arrival a few months later.

Irma was cheeky and lively, with shocking red hair and a lot of it. Her hair seemed to have a life of its own later in the 60s and into the 70s! Come to think of it, flame haired Elsie Tanner's locks were much the same. She worked for Florrie Lindley in the corner shop, and later for Lionel Petty when he bought it from Florrie. She fell for local footballer David Barlow. They got engaged during a Street day trip to the Blue John mines in the Peak District and they married after a short engagement in 1965. They eloped but their secret was discovered and they returned home to a surprise reception in the pub.

After David sustained an injury, Irma talked him into buying the corner shop. But shop work was boring for Irma and she got a job in the new PVC factory on the Street, leaving David to struggle on without her until she got fed up with that, and came back to the shelves of the corner shop.

Irma had a miscarriage and decided it was a sign she couldn't have children, a huge disappointment for David. They fostered for awhile and then David returned to the world of footie, albeit as a coach for an all-women's team. This led to David's re-entry into the sport as a player when he had the chance to play for a team in Australia. They made the decision to emigrate and sold the shop to Maggy Clegg and moved.

Two years later, David and Irma had a little boy but Ken got a phone call, saying David and their son were killed in a car crash. Irma was persuaded to return to Weatherfield with the financial assistance of bookie Dave Smith. Stan wangled a 30% share in the shop for Irma by using money that Dave Smith helped raise for Irma's return. Irma went back to the shop and worked to pay Dave back. She battled depression, both hers and Maggy's. She was even at the centre of a hostage plot when former boyfriend Joe Donnelli confessed that he'd murdered Elsie Tanner's ex-husband Steve Tanner. Joe held Irma hostage at one point and later holed up in Minnie Caldwell's house. Stan managed to get Joe to let Minnie go but when Stan entered the house, a shot rang out. Joe killed himself.

Months later, Irma left Weatherfield suddenly, contacting Maggy afterwards to sell back her share of the shop. We never saw Irma again though she did send a telegram to her mother when Stan died.

Irma was always up for a laugh, loved to have a good time. Her family, the Ogdens, were the Battersbys of their day. Rough and ready, common as muck, loud and obnoxious at times. Stan was a heavy drinker in his day and tended to violence. Irma hated that her mother put up with it. Two of the Ogden children had been taken into care and never did appear on the Street. The youngest, Trevor, was a real tearaway. She knew she didn't want the life her mother had and thought being a football wife was her ticket up and out. It didn't work out as she thought it would but she made the best of it anyway.

Losing David and her son devastated her but she tended to keep her troubles to herself.

After leaving Corrie, Sandra Gough made a name for herself with a well known part in Emmerdale.

Here's a You Tube video with the episode where Stan and Hilda first appeared. You can see Irma from 2:39 in as she tells Elsie a bit of background about her family and later, Ena tells Irma the history of the house that the Ogdens are thinking of buying.

Thanks to the Coronation Street Wiki entry on Irma.

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