Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Rovers Landladies - the Runners Up

I, like many others, have not really warmed up to St. Ella of the Back room (aka Stella Price). Graeme blogged on the Coronation Street Blogthat he feels she’s a weak landlady when compared against classics like Bet Lynch and Annie Walker. They were the two most iconic landladies, for sure, but let’s not forget Vera Duckworth’s stint, which was a disaster from the word Go, Natalie Horrocks, the scarlet woman, and, another of my favourite characters, Liz McDonald. 

Vera’s sojourn as landlady was bound to fail. The Duckies were trying to be upwardly mobile, trying to make something of themselves for once, but as usual, they didn’t have the savvy to make it work. Book keeping, VAT, and their tendency to take the profits out of the till led to their downfall. It was fun to watch them but we always knew there was a limited shelf life for Vera as the Queen Bee. Still, even though she lurched from crisis to crisis, she was a wonderful character just the same. 

Natalie Horrocks was the woman that chased Kevin Webster and broke up the happy home of Kevin, Sally and the gurls. She was branded as a homewrecker and, indeed, that’s exactly what she was. She was the chaser, not the chased and let’s not get that mixed up with “chaste” because she most certainly wasn’t. Blonde, as all landladies of the Rovers must be, Natalie was probably one of the lesser landladies but still had the strength and vulnerability to carry it off. You grew to like her but perhaps Natalie was softened up a bit too much after her hard-faced introduction, and she seemed to become a bit too vulnerable for the job. She buckled under the strain and left. The talented Denise Welch played Natalie and was perfect for the character. 

Shelley Unwin was the bar manager and landlady de-facto for a few years. That was during the trifectorate of Duggie, Mike and Fred. Mike bowed out early on and Duggie played mein host, bringing Shelley in to mind the shop. Shelley was a great manager. She was blonde, of course, pretty, sparky and strong most of the time. She was confident and friendly and knew her way around a bar. She had a confidence knock back, first after new husband Peter Barlow turned out to be a bigamist and then  at the emotional hands of Charlie Stubbs and it was all downhill from there. She got her mojo back and decided a fresh start  away from Weatherfield was in order. 

Fred Elliott continued to run the bar but had so many irons in the fire that he brought in Steve McDonald’s mother, Liz  to manage the pub. Liz had worked at the Rovers several times in the past and fit the part like a glove. She, too, was blonde, this time around anyway, and gave it her all. She loved the Rovers and when Steve bought the pub after Fred died, she finally got her name over the door as licensee due to Steve’s criminal record, "Elizabeth Jane McDonald".

I think Liz is the next best of the classic iconic landladies after Annie Walker and Bet Lynch. Liz had the guts, she had the glory, she had the jubilant highs and crushing lows and still she put on a smile and greeted the punters like a pro. Liz had history in the community. She had friends and family, not just newly made up connections. She had lived in the Street for many years off and on.  She survived, she bounced back, she had terrible dress sense but we loved her anyway!

Liz fought for her family and for her business many a time. When daughter-in-law Becky’s actions threatened her livelihood, she broke out the claws and defended her bricks and mortar chick. But in the end, when her ex-husband Jim’s attempts at buying the pub to bail Steve out of a debt that Becky had instigated failed in a spectacularly botched bank robbery, she left town with tail between her legs in a  classic landlady leaving moment. A darkened room, memories surrounding her, she shut off the lights and got into a cab, doing a moonlit flit

In some ways, Liz may even be my favourite, certainly favourite of the post-Bet landladies and landlords. When the trifecta of men owned the pub, even when Fred alone owned it and had a manager in place, it just wasn’t the same without that woman’s name over the door.

There have been other managers and short-lived wannabes (The marvellous Lillian! Fred’s bigamist wife, Eve Sykes.) but they didn’t make the grade in the long haul. Even the 40+ tenure of Betty Turpin Williams (no matter what any rewrite of history may say)  only had her in as temporary manager now and then. None of these women were blondes and therefore not contenders from the start. Liz had the grit and the glamour and the door has been left open for her return. 

I continue to hope.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How do you deal with spoilers?

Over on t'Coronation Street blog, writer Scott has mused about the upcoming Rovers Return disaster. The spoilers are all over the media and on every cover of most magazines dealing with television. There is going to be a fire and the pub is going to burn "down", with at least one death involved.

First off, I doubt very much the whole pub will burn to the ground. It's a brick building. The last fire, in 1986, was pretty all-consuming but it was still only the inside that was gutted and I expect similar this time. That aside, it's nearly impossible to avoid this kind of spoiler which is similar in nature to the tram crash disaster in 2010.

Scott said that he loved the little scenes that are unexpected, for example, the scene where four characters re-enacted the Bohemian Rhapsody video in the building site for what was going to be Terry Duckworth's club. It was superb! Roy's recent casino foray was another such gem. We don't know about them ahead of time and  it's the small unexpected little things, a scene, or even a line, that makes Corrie so enjoyable to watch these days.

The big, sensational stories are good, they're well crafted and acted, even when you know or are pretty sure what's going to happen (people dying) but it's not the same as something coming as a surprise. I wonder if, when the Rovers burned in 1986, it was heralded in the press? If it was, it wouldn't have been like it is for this go-round, not all consuming sensationalism, but if it wasn't, can you imagine the shock? The shock of the Tram crash if you didn't know it was going to happen?

 But it is what it is, and if we are going to keep watching, we just have to avoid as many spoilers as we can, if that's what we feel makes the show better, or just keep watching for the little gems. I'm a spoiler junkie and writing for the Coronation Street  blog makes spoilers unavoidable. I live in Canada, where, for many years, we were months behind the UK storyline and a lot of people here are more successful in avoiding spoilers because it isn't in the press very often aside from huge stories or a "memorable" death such as Jack, Vera or Betty's passings over the past few years.

I keep a sort of "sister" blog to the Coronation Street blog, the Bluenose Corrie Blog,  for the storylines as they happen in the Canadian timeline but I keep the blog spoiler free as much as possible. It's not always easy and when it came to the tram crash, I did break the rule but I didn't go into huge spoiler detail. It was just so difficult to avoid.

We in Canada are only 2 weeks behind the UK now so I doubt that I will post any spoilers on the Bluenose blog about the fire since there isn't long to wait. The fire will happen the week of March 18 and in Canada, we'll see the episodes from that week starting on Friday, March 30 and into the next week, I think.

I've been watching Corrie from Canada for over 25 years. When I started, we were 6 weeks behind. We fell behind further and further (I won't get into that!) but over the last year or so, we've caught up and it's great! Even though Corrie is one of the most popular tv shows in Canada, there are very few spoilers printed in the newspapers and none in the media magazines on the shelves which are mostly American though a couple of UK magazines are starting to appear including Inside Soap. Even with the American soaps, again, though spoilers are in fan magazines and on the internet, the media doesn't get all excited over soap storylines.

If there is a spoiler in a newspaper, it's never splashed on the front page. It's never on the news or entertainment shows, or very, very rarely. If Corrie is featured in a documentary or in an interview with a visiting star, they are usually careful to avoid spoilers mostly. Some of the fan events with the actors will probably witness some spoilers but even then, they are usually fairly minor in my experience. The actors, if warned, are pretty circumspect.

Canadian fans can always find spoilers on the internet if they want them but if you don't want to know the spoilers, here in Canada you can usually avoid them fairly successfully. You still need to warn your friends not to tell you, however!

If you read this blog or the Coronation Street one, you probably already do see spoilers and don't mind them. Do you mind very much the non-stop spoilers in the media? Is it a necessary evil? Would you enjoy the show more without them or do you just accept them and watch for how it's actually executed, written and acted once it's finally on screen? I do find that even though I know what's going to happen, watching how it happens and watching the actors and how it unfolds is still really enjoyable and still keeps me coming back for more.

Monday, 11 February 2013

How will Kirsty get her comeuppance?

It's a given that Kirsty will be punished for all her misdeeds. The problem is, currently, Tyrone has no real proof of her abuse. Everything else is circumstantial. But we do know that Tyrone has already been arrested for allegedly pushing Kirsty down the steps and we know there will be a court hearing.

Apparently there has been two endings filmed to court case. The only "two endings" filmed are one or two scenes outside the location shoot to try to throw off the papparazzi. The ending would never have been in any doubt realistically because they wouldn't waste days and days filming further scenes that would come afterwards back on the Street.  The question is, how will it happen? How will Kirsty get her comeuppance?

The current lot of Papprazzi photos shows Kirsty's mother Alison outside the court with her daughter and I think her mother is going to be her downfall. Her mother knows what she went through growing up, both witnessing her mother being abused and being abused herself. If you look at those photos, her mother seems to be watching Fiz and Kirsty arguing and it's very possible that Kirsty loses her rag and lets something slip in front of her mother.  If not at that point, then I think she may have said or did something prior to the hearing that made her mother realize that Kirsty is lying and has been the abuser. I think her mother will testify in court against her daughter, hoping that her daughter will get help and the cycle will stop. I do hope that her mother will also find the courage to leave her husband and, in fact, possibly that's what brings her to Kirsty's side in the first place.

I hate that we'll lose Natalie Gumede but if Kirsty goes to jail for abusing Tyrone and/or for contempt of court, lying under oath and all that, then there's a chance she'll come back in future, especially since Tyrone will have Ruby. The last of this storyline, with Tyrone going on the run with the baby is a bit tiresome, only because it's a soap cliche but we have had the main event and now we have to work towards the ending of the story that's kept me watching for over a year. Superb performances and writing, painful to watch at times but in an admiring way, and now we will see the end of it.

Tyrone is the good guy, he must come out on top. If this was a murder, then possibly we would go down the  "Deirdre Barlow 'I didn't do it'" extremely tired route of the wrongfully imprisoned. It isn't, and I think the court hearing will be the finale. I may be wrong, of course, but I don't think they'll drag this out much further as it's been going on for this long already.

Friday, 1 February 2013

State of the Street - January 2013

Lewis and Gail. After everything he's done with Audrey, the initial scam where he ran out on her, and past women coming and revealing his shenanigans, Gail falls for him? Well if it was anyone else but Gail I'd say she wouldn't fall for it but it *is* Gail we're talking about. How could she fall for his smooth, oily line? How could she do that to her mother who still loves Lewis and whom Lewis probably still loves as well.

She protests, she can't do it to her mother, so he continues to work on her. He knows it's just a matter of time. I can't believe she fell for the Hotel in Italy dream job line, almost the same thing he tried on Audrey! And she offered do the same thing Audrey did, get money against the house only this time, Lewis is determined to follow through. Deja Vu anyone? You'd think she'd connect the dots but it *is* lonely, desperate Gail we're talking about. And this time it's not going to end up well.  The month ended with Audrey finding out about the "romance" and  Lewis admitting what his plans were because he was blackmailing Kylie!

There's no surprise that Kylie was pregnant. It always happens if you have sex with the wrong person. The birth control pill question was covered with "I missed a few". I can't believe Nick had the temerity to insist Kylie have an abortion because it might be his baby! He hasn't really changed at all has he?

Whether she got pregnant or not isn't going to make David's reaction any worse. Or maybe it will with the added insult to injury of her having Nick's baby when she wouldn't have his. He'd be like that wouldn't he? Add the twist that Lewis found out and can hold that over her head, all in the most contrived manner possible, hiding under a spindly desk for a couple of hours. Did Leanne not miss him? He said something about being in the cellar with the bottles. I didn't think the viaduct had a cellar. A back room for storage, yes. Other than that clunker, and the standard soap cliche, I am enjoying this storyline as it dovetails with Gail's. 

Nick spends a week or so after the non-wedding licking his wounds, watching Leanne with hurt, puppy dog eyes. Down deep he wants her, he really wants her. His pride and his pain wouldn't let him accept her apology at first and I can't blame him. I'm sure he felt that if Peter were available, she'd go back to him. Leanne tried everything and her last ditch effort, in typical Leanne fashion, was to run away, probably hoping he'd either prevent her or come running after her. And he did.

They got married in the end. I do hope she can finally shake off Peter. There has been enough of her back and forth with him. I'd hate for them to be the Ken and Deirdre of the future, lurching back to one another all the time. It seemed like once the wedding happened, Leanne is now over the moon for Nick when just a few weeks back, she was willing to fall back for Peter. I still don't think this will end well, never mind what will happen when the Kylie thing comes out but Leanne doesn't really have a leg to stand on up on that moral high ground, not really.

It was all about Kirsty and Tyrone this month as Tyrone careened towards marrying someone he didn't want to in order to get a claim on his daughter but Kirsty turned the tables on him. She fell and had Tyrone arrested for it, claiming he often was violent with her. But even without the photos Fiz had taken, there were scars, so Fiz had said anyway. Kirsty has managed to besmirch the reputation of a gentle young man that the neighbours have known for years yet Deirdre did have doubts, having seen what looked like Tyrone shove Kirsty in the yard and Eileen has heard the fighting through the wall many times. But has she actually heard Kirsty crying in pain?

All in all, though, some rivetting performances and Alan Halsall won an acting award for his work this year, well deserved. Natalie Gumede was robbed of her "Best Newcomer" award, though. Unfortunately, Kirsty has now crossed the line and this will be Ms. Gumede's exit storyline at some point. Baddies can't get away with it, Tracy Barlow aside. I don't know how this will end but it could still leave Tyrone child-less and certainly it will take awhile for his reputation to recover in any case. It just annoys me to no end how his friends are so willing to believe the worst on a bit of circumstantial evidence. It's been a very good storyline all around.

I'm not even going to get into Karl and Sunita. I hate this storyline, always did. That burned toast was appropriate. Both of the characters and the storyline have gone up in smoke. Hayley returned (for a minute) and made Roy and Mary make up.

This Jenna and Sophie thing really leaves me cold. There's no chemistry whatsoever between them that I can see. I can understand how Sophie would get a crush on Jenna, that makes complete sense. What is absolutely baffling is how a 28 year old professional who has absolutely nothing in common with an 18 year patient that only barely finished school and dropped out of college would find her attractive and fancy her, risking her whole career. Sophie is not what you'd call a dynamic personality. Jenna is out on her own, building her career, she owns her own house, (at least I thought she owned it but now it seems she's moving in with Lloyd to save money) and, prior to this, struck me as a pretty sensible woman. Nope. I don't buy it. And in this day and age, why would Jenna be so worried about coming out? Apparently her late father was homophobic but he's gone. Mandy seems a bit opinionated and she's obviously going to have some trouble getting her head around it but she'll accept it. I do like Mandy and I do like Jenna, I just don't like Jenna with Sophie.

All in all, I'd rather remember January as the month I visited the real Coronation Street (well, Granada Studios aka ITV in Manchester).

You might also like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...