“Plenty of gravy, Royston. I lurve gravy”. With dialogue like this and the incredible acting talent of Sir Ian Lord of the Rings McKellen, the character of Mel Hutchwright couldn’t go wrong, and for this fan it did everything right and is up there as one of my all-time favourite Corrie stories. Mel Hutchwright turned up in Corrie for only a few weeks in March 2005 but caused turmoil in his short reign on the Street. Mel was the author of trashy novel Hard Grindings which the Corrie book club took to their hearts so much that Blanche contacted the author. Mel turned up on the cobbles and the regulars quickly find out that he was a freeloading fraudster with writer's block. Click through below for more great pics of Mel Hutchwright on Corrie.
Mel Hutchwright cut a swathe through the street and the ladies were in thrall – but so was Norris! A porcelain figurine went missing at Emily's and Mel asked if it was valuable. Emily replied it was worth two hundred pounds. "It was not!" he retorted, then… "Really?". Clearly he'd flogged it on the market as he was completely skint he then conned Audrey out of a big lunch at The Clock. Audrey was all of a flutter with the attention from Mel although Ken was less amused with Mel for laughing at his column in the Gazette. "Ah, the angry young working class man" said Mel of Ken. "It's not so much Look Back in Anger but look back in a very bad mood and a cardigan". Actually he didn't say the last bit about the cardi but I thought he should have done and was half expecting him to.
As Norris did the dusting at Emily’s, he was content to hear the tap tap tapping of the keyboard as Mel typed away at his new novel in the front room. But when the tapping stopped and started winding itself around the tape machine, he knew there was something up. Mel wasn't typing at all, it was just a con, although he told Norris he couldn't have told him the truth because of his sensitivity. The truth is, Mel said, the publishers refused his new novel and he's thinking of self-publishing instead - the very last resort of a desperate author. I know, I read all about it once in the back of Exchange & Mart.
Norris then decided to help Mel publish his new magnum opus and gathered together the book club members to ask them each to dip into their pockets and cough up £200 a piece to fund the book. Ken advised that vanity publishing has a very bad name and that the contributors would never see a return on their investment. Norris however managed to use his silver tongue and the book club was convinced, most of them making cheques payable to the alleged publisher - Mr Hipkis (with one S). Mel, the old rogue, made a speech saying how he was touched by their generosity but then Ken appeared at the meeting to reveal that Mel was a pseudonym and that as Mr Hipkis he was well known to Her Majesty having resided in at least one of her institutions and having in similar fashion defrauded a number of book clubs up and down the country. Mel departed in shame but with everyone’s cash!
And there’s a wonderful account of his time on Coronation Street as Mel Hutchwright, written by Sir Ian McKellen himself. You can read it online here.