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rovers-return.jpgThere have been stories in the papers and online lately about how Stella Price may need to sell half of the Rovers to Owen Armstrong to finance the reconstruction of the pub. While this may be an interesting dramatic development, in reality it would take a damn sight more than the assistance of an ill-tempered builder to save a small backstreet pub.

We all need to accept that the Rovers is an oddly-designed, one-room boozer in thrall to a minority brewery with a woefully ill-defined culinary offering. For its trade it relies entirely on a small group of loyal regulars who rarely seem to drink much or order enough food to warrant running a kitchen.

The Rovers has at least 5 staff (discounting cleaners) and the fire appears to have written off most of the rooms. It's very difficult to imagine that a refit will make financial sense, even with additional investment.

For one thing, the pub is far wider internally than externally. From the toilets on the right hand side that apparently encroach into the Barlow's house, to the living room and kitchen on the left that (if the external dimensions are anything to go by) MUST jut out into Rosamund Street, the whole architecture of the pub makes little sense.

Upstairs there appears to be at least three bedrooms and a bathroom, all of which will need re-decorating, the bar needs stripping and reconstructing and the cellar can't be in a very good state. We reckon that the whole venture will require upwards of £200,000 to even cover its costs. This doesn't include payments to staff for injury, pain and suffering or the cost of replacing tills, alarm systems, furniture or plates, cutlery and glassware.

NO WAY is this pub financially viable, and NO WAY would a brewery or insurance company pay to have it reconstructed. Owen would have to discuss his plans to provide finances for the rebuilding to his bank manager before he could find enough money to do it and they would not release funds based on any investment versus ROI plan he concocts.

This is nonsense. If Corrie bosses are serious about making any kind of dramatic sense of the corner they have painted themselves into then they will have the Newton & Ridley bulldoze the pub or sell it off to developers to turn it into flats. FACT.


We're kidding, by the way. Long live the Rovers!

Catherine tyldesley.jpgThere has been a bit of a storm-in-a-teacup-style kerfuffle over the past few days about Corrie actress Catherine Tyldesley giving her Family Fortunes winnings to a charity that helps out the families of convicted criminals.

Some people seem to think that there are more deserving causes for the £10,000 Catherine and her family won on the show and she has sadly attracted comments saying that the decision was, at best, 'ill-advised' and even that it was 'tasteless'.

That the charity Catherine chose, Out There, are deemed unsuitable to receive her donation must seem a very odd sentiment to most Corrie viewers, who are used to seeing the affects of imprisonment has on the convict's family portrayed in the soap on a regular basis. Yes, it's only a TV show but every few months one of Corrie's characters is locked up and we see how much those left behind struggle to continue with their lives. Think of Fiz and John Stape.

Catherine has apparently offered as mitigation the fact that, when younger, she used to visit prisoners with her mum and understands what their families go through. She shouldn't be made to feel that she has to explain herself. If she wants to donate to any charity she deems fit she should be supported in her decision and congratulated on her generosity. Making someone feel guilty for doing a good thing is a very small-minded way to carry on.

carla leanne punch.jpgOver the years there have been a fair few punches and slaps thrown in Weatherfield. There can't be many of the main cast haven't hit or been hit by one of the others. But some of them are more convincing than others, sometimes there's something unconvincing about the swing, or the timing of the fall or the sound effect. Rarely do they look real enough to make you wince. Last night was very different, however, as Leanne took a cracking left hook swing at Carla.

For those that missed it - Carla (Alison King) and Leanne (Jane Danson) were rowing in the street about Carla driving to pick Simon from school while drunk. After a bit of grabbing and aggravation Leanne said, "you nearly killed me mother last time". And it was Carla's whispered response of "shame it wasn't you" that elicited a left hook of such ferocity that the sound department must have gone back to an old Ali V Fraser fight to find a meaty enough sound FX.

The result was Carla on the deck and a punch that will go down in Corrie history as one of the best. You know what I mean, Arry?

crazy kirsty .jpgWe all now that one of the incommutable laws of soap is 'bad people shall get their comeuppance'. It's the way it is; if you have an affair, it get discovered, if you commit murder, you get caught. It has always been thus and always thus shall be. Where, then, does this leave Corrie's latest bad girl Crazy Kirsty?

Over the past couple of years she has gradually become more angry and nasty and unhinged. She started off being a bit of the jealous type and gone to full-on Tyrone-beating nutterdom. She is fast approaching the point of no return, terminal velocity, the endgame. She can't get any more evil without causing someone serious harm and she's not such a long-term or much-loved character that the writers and producers will attempt to rehabilitate her. Unlike Tracy Barlow (who's evilness viewers actually revel in) she is following the likes of John Stape and Richard Hillman by flying into an unavoidable bad behaviour brick wall.

What can be done with her? Well, the most likely outcomes are death or prison. We reckon it's a toss up between the two and it'll be down to the keenness of actress Natalie Gumede to return to the street to determine if Kirsty is killed off or locked up to return to haunt Tyrone further down the line.

Either way, it'll hopefully be quite soon as it's all getting a bit ridiculous and repetitive.

DEIDRE BARLOW.JPGOne of the many reasons we all love Corrie is the dialogue. When the scriptwriters are on form then Norris or Mary or Steve or Kylie have all been known to drop in sublime one-liners. The occasional, well-placed, well-paced, bon mot has always been the cornerstone of he show's appeal. Deidre Barlow, though, is not generally recognised as A-list with the memorable lines, until last night that is.

During Wednesday's show Deidre came down the stairs after enjoying a 'nice long soak' in the bath. As she descended she called out to the absent Ken 'Oh, that was lovely. I dropped off at one point and got me Grazia wet'.

Genius. It's an observational line worthy of Alan Bennett and suggestive filth far richer and smuttier than anything even Benny Hill ever managed.

Congratulations and kudos to Damon Rochefort, the writer of the episode, for giving us what may prove to be Corrie's line of the year from a very unexpected source.

fred elliott.jpegOne of the darkest days in recent Corrie history was the one when the glorious John Savident decided to quit the cobbles. His portrayal of master butcher Fred Elliot was EXACTLY what Corrie is all about - big, bluff, funny, warm, OTT, memorable, heart-breaking, perfectly played, audacious and perfect. Fred was magnificent, if you don't agree a) you're wrong and b) imagine how much better Corrie would be now if Fred was still there. Miles better, that's how much.

There are now stories that John Savident will be reappearing on soapland this Xmas in an episode of Casualty. Well, here at Corrie Blog this has got us all sad. How much better it would be if Mr Savident returned to Weatherfield. Yes, his character is dead, yes that presents logical and practical difficulties, but (like Bobby coming back in Dallas) it can be done! Come on, Corrie writers, we challenge thee.

For those of you too young or addled to remember the glory that was Fred Elliot, have a gander at the clip below. It only hints at his magnificence but that hint is all we have and all we should need.


rovers return.jpgSo here we are in October - three quarters of the way through the year - time, we thought, for a little look back at how Corrie has been in 2012.

If we're honest, it's not been great, has it? Despite some stories looking like potential humdingers at the start of the year there has really been very little to write home about and most of the big storylines have been sadly unmemorable.

The year started with the exit of Becky McDonald - a great character played by a fabulous actress, but her final episodes were muddled and hurried. Around the same time Milton 'Man From UNCLE' Fanshaw arrived to very little fanfare and even less affect. His scenes with Sylvia could have been gold dust but we bet many of you had entirely forgotten about him already.

Next up came the whole Frank Foster trial/ factory take-over/ murder/ Carla's confession/ whatever else happened storyline. Considering the build-up and press coverage the whole thing got it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. Frank's mother Anne being the murderess was sign-posted far too early and so, rather than a 'Who shot JR?'-sized mystery, we ended up with a few weeks of drab sensationalism and unconvincing police work.

The Tyrone/ Kirsty/ domestic violence/ pregnancy thing has been protracted and, unfortunately, dull. An important issue tackled, but in an over-protracted and repetitive manner. The same goes for the Izzy/ Gary/ baby/ surrogacy palaver. Just dull.

Aside from these major plots we've had Betty's funeral (which was touching and well done) and Rita's wedding (which was utterly ruined by the rubbish Tommy drugs thing), the arrival of Rob Donovan (meh), Ryan Connor (slightly less meh) and Gloria Price (not as momentous as we'd hoped).

On the plus side, the Stella/ Karl/ Sunita/ Dev omni-shambles has been very entertaining. Sunita seemed to turn into a man-hungry hussy extremely quickly but on the whole it provided some great fun. Norris, Mary, Sean, Julie, Brian and Steve have all continued to provide many laughs and even Ken and Deidre have been responsible for more humour than usual.

As for the rest of the year, the Tracy/ Ryan relationship might prove fun, Lloyd and his daughter might be touching and the Kirk/ Beth pairing might be hilarious. Might. We'll have to wait and see. Certainly the Tina surrogacy and Tyrone DV plots will continue to drag out for the foreseeable future and both look unlikely to turn interesting.

Not a vintage year on the cobbles thus far, then. Let's hope that 2013 and the move to the new Salford Quays set will help Corrie raise it's game.

Now that newspapers can no longer rely on phone hacking to deliver stories they have to find alternative ways of filling the pages of their rags. Today the never knowingly under-frenzied Daily Mail have decided to dedicate a page to Steve Doughty's opinion that Corrie bosses have 'blood on their hands' over the Daniel Bartram murder case. It's an accusation which is as incorrect as it is outrageous.Daniel Bartlam.jpg

Daniel Bartram (so that we're all aware) was this week convicted of the murder of his mother, who he killed with a claw hammer. It's obviously a horrible thing to have happened and (unlike the Mail's salacious coverage) we'll try not to go into too much hysterical detail. Seemingly, detectives investigating the case found TV recordings of various killings in Bartram's home, one of which was the John Stape/ Charlotte Hoyle killing featured in Corrie a couple of years ago. This featured a hammer.

Seizing onto this, Doughty contends that the producers of Corrie are to blame for implanting violent impulses into Bartram's obviously disturbed brain and that they should consider themselves accountable.

It's a ridiculous and insulting standpoint. In recent times, we at Corrie Blog have been as critical as anyone with regard to the increasingly sensational plotlines the soap has featured. There are undoubtedly too many crimes and killings played out in what has always been a family programme. BUT claiming that Bartram was possessed to kill because he watched Corrie is utter nonsense. Bartram's poor mother was killed with a hammer and then he poured petrol over her and set light to her body. None of that happened in Corrie. There were many other, much more violent recordings discovered at Bartram's home - things like Saw 3, which he apparently watched immediately before carrying out the killing. Most tellingly of all, relatives of Bartram testified that he had told of violent fantasies and plans to kill for many years before the murder.

Undoubtedly, TV and film may have had some influence on Bartram's murderous method but they cannot be blamed for his innate impulses to kill. Judges, juries, solicitors and psychiatrists are the people who should be passing judgement of the mental state of Bartram and on the underlying causes for his actions, Daily Mail hacks desperate for stories should keep well out of it.

The Corrie kebab shop made its first appearance on the street in 2007 to give shelter to Brookside refugee Sinbad. It used to be Diggory Compton's bun shop but after that failed (and Diggory died) Sinbad converted it and shipped his dysfunctional family in to help him run it. Suddenly everyone in Weatherfield was either eating kebabs for breakfast, dinner and tea or sat in the shop looking mournful and nursing a can of Fanta.

doner kebab.jpg

When Sinbad was written out (heart attack, moved to Spain) the shop was sold to Dev and there were a few scenes in there involving Amber and more kebabs and Fanta, or something.

Then....nothing.

The kebab shop hasn't featured at all for ages. You see its neon sign occasionally flashing sadly in the back of shot but no one ever goes in and no-one eats kebabs anymore. Obviously, this has something of a positive affect on the waistlines in Weatherfield (Eileen looks much better for it and so does Fiz, although that could be more to do with prison food) but it must be playing havoc with Dev's already depleted pockets.

Maybe it will appear again, perhaps the scriptwriters will need a kebab-based storyline - Emily sees the face of Jesus in a doner, the loss of Betty means the Rovers starts selling kebabs instead of hotpots and Steve and Dev duel it out in the street with shish kebab skewers - or maybe it'll go the way of the chippy and never be seen again. Who can tell?

For now, so long kebab shop and thanks for all the heartburn.

This week marks a televisual landmark. After 4½ years of bad plots, dodgy acting, convoluted farce and surprisingly dull murders John Stape looks like he's finally taking his leave of the cobbles.

GRAEME HAWLEY.jpg

Stape was first introduced as a love interest for Fiz and his presence in the soap was initially benign and marginal. Then he had an affair with schoolgirl Rosie Webster, then kidnapped her, for which he went to prison. This would have been a good and (semi) realistic time to get rid of the character, but no. While in prison he convinces Fiz to marry him and is subsequently released. Then the madness began.

John stole teacher friend Colin Fishwick's identity to gain a position as a teacher, sort-of murders Colin, then (with the help of fellow nutty teacher Charlotte Hoyle) hides Colin's body in the knicker factory. Charlotte falls for John (who wouldn't? - the lovable fraudster/ killer is apparently irresistible to women) then starts to blackmail him into having an affair with her. Then John tries to kill her, fails, then kills her properly. (In the middle of all this Stape - for long-forgotten reasons - pretended to be a furniture salesman and was offered a job selling settees!). Then Colin's mum, Joy, turns up and John befriends her then sort-of kills her. Then he has a mental breakdown and is sectioned. Here was another chance (though slightly less realistic than the last opportunity) to get rid of Stape's character. But no.

Heavily medicated, John comes home, stops taking the medicine, befriends Charlotte's parents by pretending to be Colin again, kidnaps them and Chesney and holds them in a cellar for a frankly ridiculous amount of time. At the same time Stape has to move Colin's body and ropes in Fiz to dump it in the canal. Then he hides in his own attic before being captured and hospitalised. He escapes dressed as a doctor and winds up on the roof of Weatherfield General, holding baby Hope and threatening to jump. He doesn't jump, but sort-of falls, then somehow gets up, walks away and vanishes. Here was yet another untaken chance to write him out.

Now he's back (possibly from outer space) with a beard and a stupid plan to kidnap Rosie Webster (again!) and tutor her in the ways of madness, then have a car crash and die (please, please, please, THIS TIME!!).

You may be thinking 'What's wrong with all that? It's a soap, soap's are full of drama and over-the-top storylines. Well, 'soaps' may well be - but this is Corrie, we expect better. The whole Stape misadventure has been badly thought-through (hence Fiz's insanely convoluted trial), farcical in a non-funny-just-annoying way, dragged out waaaaayyyy too long and, perhaps most importantly, badly acted. If we were being kind we'd say that Graeme Hawley was miscast as a fraudster/ adulterer/ manslaughterer/ murderer but the truth is that his performance has been monotone throughout. He's been sweatily flapping and flappily sweating round Weatherfield for the best part of five years and the whole time it's felt like he's been in his own badly-worked, sub-Brian Rix -scripted, whoops-I've-accidentally-killed-the-neighbours pantomime.

When Stape dies at the end of this week all here at Corrie Blog hope that the actors, crew, writers and producers breathe as big a sigh of relief as the viewers. Not because Fiz is free but because her husband will no longer be around to terrorize his victims - us!

PS Don't count on it, though, Stape has been back more times than the Terminator.

And so it begins. Last night on Corrie we had the first glimpses of what the future of the soap may be like. Every few scenes there was a reference to Rosie Webster appearing on Lorraine Kelly's TV show clumsily crow-barred into the dialogue. Many viewers will have been utterly bemused by these pointless references to the antics of an off-screen character, many more will have just been annoyed. Of course, it's all part of ITV's grand plan to begin migrating viewers onto the internet so that they can start charging them to watch net-only material.

rosie webster underwear.jpg

Whether people will want to go to the internet to watch second fiddle 'webisodes' or if they will be prepared to pay for such half-hearted material as those currently available for free on the 'Just Rosie' spin-off website remains to be seen. What is more relevant is how it will affect 'normal' Corrie episodes.

If last night is anything to go by, viewers can expect disjointed, tangential conversations involving events not occurring in Weatherfield inserted into the plot and characters suddenly disappearing for months at a time while the actors that play them are off on 'B' team duties - i.e. filming poorly produced 10-minute episodes which will only ever be watched by a tiny percentage of the core Corrie audience.

Cannier media commentators are saying that ITV attempting to charge for access to programming won't turn out to be the cash cow they hope and that their current audience-shifting efforts are ultimately futile. Let's hope so, or Corrie may one day end up being little more than a series of scenes involving characters sitting in their front rooms, looking at laptops and exclaiming 'This ITV player thing is amazing, so it is.' (That was Jim McDonald saying that, if you'd not guessed).

Here at Corrie Blog we'll admit that we've been harsh on the programme in the past couple of months. The depressing storylines and relentless criminality of the characters has been annoying and off-putting and we see it as our role to complain if we don't like something. But it's also our job to praise the show when they get it right and last night's episodes were great examples of Corrie at its best.

There was the right mix of comedy and drama, with the scenes involving the aftermath of Norris's toilet confinement and the Brian/ Julie scenes being as enjoyable as anything the show has ever produced. The Fiz/ prison/ grass stuff is a bit annoying but the comedy on show back in Weatherfield more than compensates for the odd duff storyline.

Well done to writer Carmel Morgan for a brace of cracking episodes and for giving us lines such as 'I'm a woman, Marcus, not a yogurt'. More of this kind of frivolous nonsense and the show could soon be right back on track!

Forget the Tram crash, forget Don Brennan driving his taxi into the viaduct, forget Gail going into the canal - was the relatively simple Owen's van/ Fiz showdown on this evening's Corrie the most convincing stunt the show has ever seen? Very possibly.

When Corrie try to do a BIG stunt they always go for BIG production value, this means model shots and CGI for the tram crash or big cranes and studio wet tanks for canal leaps. But actually these rarely convince, you're always left thinking 'that canal water looks very clean' or that the tram looked a bit Thunderbirds as it bounced off the mini-mart and into the Kabin.

Tonight, however, a quick cut, technically basic street accident was shot and edited with precision and élan and resulted in a perfectly convincing-looking scene - nice touch with the overhead group shot at the end as well.

JENNIE McALPINE.jpg

Maybe the Corrie producers should take note - you don't always have to spend big bucks to make a brill bang.

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