Thursday, 20 March 2014

No Better Than They Ought

I love the way – and I may be imagining it – that Corrie rewards long-term viewers like myself. I’m someone who’s watched it from infanthood and even kept up during my years as a student. In recent years I’d given up – sometime before the 50th Anniversary and I only returned to watching properly when they started to gradually kill Hayley off. I gave up for the reason a lot of people give – too many Hollyoaks type characters and crap sensationalism. Anyhow, Hayley’s magnificent last few months brought me back and I found that the Street was still itself, underneath all the flashy, silly gubbins they’d been piling onto it.

Because you’ve got characters in it for decades, they can be developed with beautiful slowness – and long-term viewers will suddenly realise that, for example, when Gail gets shrill and goes harping on, she’s turning into her own dreaded mother-in-law of the 1980s, Ivy Tilsley. The script never tells us that – but it’s there. Gail is turning into everything she hated and feared when she was 21. It’s why she drinks so much white wine. She’s another dessicated busybody telling everyone how they should be living their lives, oblivious to her own craziness and faults.

Deirdre is naturally evolving into the perfect replica of her wonderfully, drolly wicked mother, Blanche, and everyone can see that – because there’s still a photo of Blanche on the sideboard, from which she stares with myopic disdain.

I also think that Sally is becoming Hilda Ogden who, of course, was never any relation of hers – but was one of the first people Sally knew on the street, back in the early 80s. It’s like a duck hatching out and latching onto the first thing they see. (Sally even looks a bit like a duckling.) She was sweet and eighteen, but the image of Hilda was imprinted on her subconscious, plus Sally ended up living in the Ogdens’ house for many years, somehow absorbing the very essence of Hilda. (I imagine the famous exotic Murial (sic) was still behind the Websters’ wallpaper – leaking its ineradicable commonness like something malign out of Edgar Allen Poe.) Sally has endured a life of ludicrous melodrama – and is becoming someone whose essentially kind heart is counter-balanced by a whiny voice and a nasty mind.

Perhaps it’s the houses themselves that imprint themselves on the lives of their present owners? I was thinking this during scenes at Eileen’s last night. There she was, telling Marcus he had to go, and glowering at her son Todd. She had a houseful of men in their pants and t-shirts, and she was up to her elbows in sexual shenanigans amongst the young. Eileen looked peeved by it all, at the same time as sort-of understanding how these things happen. Just as, thirty years ago, Elsie Tanner presided over the same house, then filled with young women, and she was being protective and matriarchal, but fully aware of how, inevitably, some people end up no-better-than-they-ought-to-be.

I’ll have to think more about this business of possession, and how the old characters imprint themselves on the next generation. Behind the Rover’s bar, it’s plain to see that Shaun is turning – perhaps quicker than he’d like – into Betty Turpin. He even nods and tuts sympathetically, folding his arms and looking scandalized in just the same way (‘Pardon me for having an opinion!’ he burst out last night, or somesuch, caught in the crossfire of an al fresco fracas, just as Betty would have done.) These are the kind of echoes and things that this long-term viewer – who feels very welcomed back to watching the show, incidentally - loves to pick up on.


  1. You're spot on with Sally, Paul. I even think she's been waiting for her very own Stan, and she may well have found him in Tim. Back in the day, I saw shades of Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell in the Rita and Mavis pairing.

  2. There's a clear evolutionary chain from Jerry Booth to Tyrone Dobbs. Kind hearted everyman, unlucky in love and perpetual sidekick.