For the Love of the Cobbles…

An Ode to What I believe to be the World’s Best TV Show.

When I first thought about dedicating a blog to my favorite TV show, I had no idea, how long it would end up being. I guess that’s the problem with a show that has run for 52 consecutive years, all along, staying in the top ratings. I believe that part of the Corrie charm is that no matter how negative, dismal, depressing and boring television can really be, it’s a great comfort to know that one thing is constant. Coronation Street. The eerie working middle class theme song spouts a feeling of oppression but a slight hint of hope with those last few notes of the song. That song has become somewhat of a soundtrack for my life, and probably so many other lives, in fact, it is currently my ringtone on my mobile phone. Well, that and an Angry Scotsman shouting obscenities threatening me to answer my phone, but the Coronation St theme is my default. Each night at 6:30 pm (I live in Canada so we’re a few months behind and are currently running two episodes now back to back (except now it’s the Canadian Corrie fans’ worst nemesis- Hockey season. In hockey season, everything takes back seat, even the news.) When 6:30 rolls around, I can be found ritualistically perched in my favorite recliner with a fresh cuppa and a few bikkies (permitting I have some in the cupboard). This is in fact, such a staunch ritual of mine that friends, family members and most definitely my wife know, not to talk to me for the next thirty minutes. There will however, be approximately nine minutes of commercial time where you’re more than welcome to engage me in conversation so long as you know I stop listening when the show comes back on.

I spent this past weekend going through and watching all the old Corrie episodes and various specials on YouTube. It was like hitting a goldmine! I have spent most of my life, since a wee child, watching Corrie and it’s still a big dream of mine to walk down those cobblestone streets. I’d stop in to Roy Cropper’s cafe and order one of those bacon butte breakfast sandwiches or a tea with one of those delicious sounding eccles cakes, that, I, as a Canadian-had no idea what it was. I researched it and indeed looks delicious (I’ve actually included a recipe for the delicious treat at the end of this posting) and naturally, it would be begging for a little romp in my cuppa’ tea. I also cannot wait to try other delicious sounding goodies such as “a proper fry up”, brown sauce and tea served out of beautiful tea sets that replicate the plastic ones I had as a child that I would drink water from. Not to mention the real fish and chips and the greasy kebabs.

After that, I’d head down to the Rovers for a pint or a “G” & “T” as is Audrey Roberts’ favorite drink. I’d joke around with Tommy, Kirk and Tyrone, that is if Kirsti will let him and from what I understand she’s well.. kind of a bitch so.. Then the lovely Tina would pour me one final pint which I would guzzle down, tip well and make my drunken way over to Carla’s flat and tell her that I am the woman of her dreams, she may not know she’s gay just yet.. Oh, she wants me to leave. OK Carla, this time I’ll let it go.. I wonder if Tracy’s free.. hmm

The show first aired December 9, 1960 and has been running ever since. Things that draw me in to the show are not only the realness of the show and by realness, I really mean that the neighborhood isn’t this perfect little quaint street with perfectly fake, overly done up actors. It’s gritty, it portrays the working class in all their perils, and tackles some very real, current socioeconomic issues. Sure, there’s a lot of bed hopping, murders, scandals and cat fights, it is after all, first and foremost a soap opera, and this just leads to more of its charm. It has more memorabilia, more TV specials and more cast members than anything I’ve ever seen. Some people complain about the accents. Well, again, it keeps true to the fact that this show takes place in Manchester and all the actors are therefore from Northern England or pretty darn close enough to have mastered that accent. If one really listens, you can understand. Listen a few times and you’ve pretty much got it. Live in Newfoundland for a couple of years and, NO PROBLEM! So on this attribute, I also applaud the series creators and cast for this piece of originality.

Not too mention, the series has had some of the best villains on TV. Here are some of my personal favorites.

1. Charlie Stubbs ~ Actor, Bill Ward brought this loathsome character to the street in 2003. A ruggedly handsome builder who had a “way with the ladies”. His contribution to the show was terrorizing his girlfriend, fiance Shelly Unwin, the Rovers’ landlady. He took a strong confident and well loved Shelly and ended up isolating her and tearing her down to the point where Shelly becomes an agoraphobic. He’s had a series of abusive relationships and Shelly gives him what for in a dramatically brave performance where, at the altar, a tearful Shelly exposes in front of everyone that she indeed could NEVER marry Charlie leaving him dumbfounded and humiliated in front of the entire street. Shelly’s mother, Bev is seen cheering for her daughter and that scene, I dare say, made me bawl! The bastardy Charlie then finally gets his comeuppance a year later when the equally evil Tracy Barlow smashes him over the head to death after doing a very memorable “sexy dance” for him. Poor guy. Doesn’t pay to be a fu**ker Charlie Stubbs…

2. Maya Sharma~Another contribution in 2003 was “Mad Maya”. Portrayed by actress, Sasha Behar, she came in innocently enough as a legal consultant to Roy and Hayley Cropper regarding the infant Amy Barlow. It seems apparent from the beginning that shopkeeper, Dev Alahan has taken a liking to her. Not surprising really, she’s beautiful, smart classy and, oh yeah. A nut ball. She starts stealing things like vases and Tyone’s dog, Monica, leaves a restaurant without paying taking Dev on a wild “Fast and Furious” style car ride until he proposes to her. Dev’s ex, the lovely Sunita develops a brain tumor which brings her and Dev closer together. Maya evens “pretends” to be supportive but once she realizes that Dev’s in love with Sunita, she trashes his flat. She then attempts to ruin Dev and Sunita’s wedding by spilling urine on Sunita’s dress, assuming her identity then marrying several illegal immigrants which ends in both Sunita and Dev being arrested for illegal marriage. Maya then gets arrested after an investigation, thrown in jail, released on bail and starts stalking Dev and Sunita. She then ends up taking Sunita hostage, beating up Dev, tying them both up, while she runs gasoline throughout the flat and the corner shop, setting fire to it and leaving the scene. She flees to her sports car to watch the eminent explosion from the end of the street. Luckily, walking by were Jamie Baldwin and Leanne Battersby who see smoke streaming from the shop. Dev manages to bust a window with a curtain rod getting the attention of the the passerby’s and get saved right before a massive explosion that sends all the residents pouring out into the street and the arrival of the fire brigade. Maya, seeing they got out then guns it down the cobblestone attempting to hit the poor couple, of course, they get out of the way and “Mad Maya” goes soaring to her demise in to the flaming building..

3. Richard Hillman ~ was a great storyline. Portrayed by actor, Brian Capron. He appeared at Alma’s funeral and began a quick friendship with Gail Platt. Norris helped us learn that he had ripped of seniors at a retirement home. He then tried to swindle Audrey’s money when he finds out how much she is worth and when Audrey tries to warn Gail, Richard begun a series of events in an effort to make Audrey appear like she was going crazy. He even set fire to her house and made it seem like a simple act of carelessness on Audrey’ part. Then of course, after a long series of events, Richard murders his ex wife, kidnaps Sarah, Bethany and David then finally Gail and attempts to kill them all in the garage with exhaust fumes. Kevin Webster ends up breaking the garage door down upon which Richards speeds out on to the street. Gail’s ex husband (and David’s father, Martin and his friend Tommy frantically chase after them in their own car. Richard drives the whole Platt family in to the canal where Gail swims out (she actually took helicopter water training for this scene kudos Helen) gets the kids out and poor old Richard comes out in a body bag.. A lesson well learned. Don’t meet shady men at funerals..

4. Frank Foster ~ played by actor, Andrew Lancel, he made his first appearance January 20,2011. Originally, he was brought in as a business associate to Carla Connor at Underworld. It became apparent that this slick and suave business man had his sights on something else. After a failed sexual assault on the lovely Maria, who was assisting Carla at the factory at the time, we started to see what this weasel of a man was about. Carla initially didn’t believe Maria as she needed Frank’s business and expertise to save the factory from going under so she looked past it which played a devastating role on her friendship with Maria. Once Carla realized she was in love with an unattainable Peter Barlow, she accepts Frank’s marriage proposal in an effort to move on, despite her feelings for Peter Barlow who by now was married to Leanne Battersby. It takes no time at before Frank takes control over Carla who feels helpless to stop it. In an effort to numb her pain she becomes an alcoholic which results in her almost killing The Rovers’ landlady and Leanne Battersy‘s mother. Frank quickly takes control of the situation by taking responsibility for the accident. At one point you almost feel sorry for the bloke as he clearly loves Carla but then we realize it’s just one more thing for him to hold over her. The night before their wedding, Carla comes to her senses and tells Frank she doesn’t love him and does not wish to be his wife. He then rapes her violently then pops out or wine and curry to make it seem like nothing happened. This begins a long drawn out process of the viewer seeing the truth but his cohorts, mainly his mother and Sally Webster do not. Frank ends up getting off with the rape charge and returning arrogantly to the factory to terrorize Carla in an attempt to push her over the edge. It will slowly come out and the fact that I am in Canada and a couple of months behind- I DO know he ends up being murdered, but because I don’t want to ruin it for myself and fellow Canuck Corrie lovers, I refuse to skip ahead on the internet.

To a lesser extent but just as evil if you ask anyone on the street about her,

5. Tracy Barlow~Dierdre’s daughter, Tracy. Played by the very talented, Kate Ford since 2002. Tracy is a spoiled rotten, illogical, backstabbing and evil little cow. This is why we love her so. Her actions never cease to amaze the viewers and I pity the poor actress Kate that probably gets her fair share of stink eye and whispers lol. She’s drugged Roy Cropper in an effort to convince him that little Amy was his and not Steve MacDonalds in order to get money from him and Hayley. She’s manipulated men most of her adult life but she met her match in Charlie Stubbs. The ruggedly handsome builder with a history of broken birds behind him (see above) Tracy sees him as a challenge and tried desperately to domesticate him to show the street that they had this “exceptional relationship”. Despite his efforts in showing her just how little he cared for her, even maintaining a relationship on the side with Maria the hairdresser, to prove HE was in control, she develops a plan to get rid of Charlie, he was NOT going to treat her like this, and keep the house that she was now sharing with him. Her plans culminate in a memorable sexy dance by Kate Ford and poor old Charlie Stubbs being bashed in the head with a very ugly statue. Not getting rid of the statue is what ultimately causes Tracy’s downfall and gets her sent away for a couple of years. She is back now however and back to her old tricks. Getting pregnant by Steve MacDonald then blaming a distraught Becky (now ex Macdonald). Steve attempts to fulfill his father duties to their unborn twins by marrying Tracy, of course Becky find s out the truth (with the help of a more than willing Gail Platt) to discover the truth and then to announce it AFTER the wedding so that Steve could then stew in his own mistakes. Tracy has given us much to yell at the TV about and we look forward to more of her ridiculous stunt for many years to come.
Whether you’re tuning in to see how Gail’s wearing her hair these days or to hear Audrey’s witty wisdom, the show has some great characters to which we’ve become quite attached to. You watch the show so often that these characters become almost pseudo members of your family. Tuning in to see what the now “turned around” David Platt and his crazy bride, Kylie are up to, the nosy Norris Cole bicker with Rita Sullivan the “Kabin” owner, who to me reminds me of what a great grandmother would be. Or what’s going on at the factory and Roy”s Rolls. Checking in on the Barlows and the Booky office. We all have our reasons for being constant viewers. The story lines are quite well written and the scenes very well acted for a soap opera. One of of my favorite story lines in the recent years besides the Charlie Stubbs/Tracy Barlow story has got to be The Tram Crash – this was GENIUS although, loosely mirrored the early viaduct crash from back in 1967. ( That was an undertaking because the set was originally an indoor set. This plot prompted the construction of an outdoor set. Interesting note. The set is scaled down so the outdoor scenes are actually filmed in slow -mo to create the effect that they are indeed walking down a long street. After 45 years on the same set, there are plans to tear it out and rebuild a new larger scale set, in fact, you can view the city plans at The Trafford council website here http://planning.trafford.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorerAA/Generic/StdDetails.aspx?PT=Planning%20Applications%20On-Line&TYPE=PL/PlanningPK.xml&PARAM0=396373&XSLT=/Northgate/PlanningExplorerAA/SiteFiles/Skins/Default_AA/xslt/PL/PLDetails.xslt&FT=Planning%20Application%20Details&PUBLIC=Y&XMLSIDE=/Northgate/PlanningExplorerAA/SiteFiles/Skins/Default_AA/Menus/PL.xml&DAURI=PLANNING)

That storyline left me and no doubt many others simply GLUED to the TV. We lost Ashley Peacock and Mollie Dobbs and nearly lost Peter Barlow while our beloved Rita remained trapped under rubble at the now destroyed Kabin. I went through a series of emotions during that story. Bursting out in to tears embarrassingly in front of my father and spouse. Yelling at the TV. Oh my, it was a roller-coaster. It was fantastic and certainly deserved the accolades it received.

The constant viewer also has their favorite characters, I am briefly outlining a few of my favorites;

The Women I Love in the Street

Becky Grainger– Played by the lovely Katherine Kelly, the once shifty little street skank turned, respectable {for the most part} loyal and very loving. She really GREW UP on the street thanks to the kindness and nurturing Hayley Cropper who believed that there was more to Becks than met the eye. She has made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Taking Roy’s {Woody} when he first bought it was the first mistake. But over the years she really turns herself around in to a respected and well loved character who begins learning from her mistakes and end up on top. I think we will all miss Becky.

Hayley Cropper~ Played by Julie Hesmondhalgh you have to love Hayley. A character that was originally only brought on for a few episodes turned out to be a long lasting, loving and respectful relationship with my favorite, Roy Cropper. It also turned out that she was a pre – op transgendered woman. Meaning she was actually a man, going through transition to be a woman. He accepted her for her and in return she accepts Roy for him. They’re my favorite couple on the show truth be told. I’d very much love to take a holiday to somewhere historic and have Roy show me around and tell me the importance and history of each piece of interest. Hayley of course, would pack a snack lunch and bring an extra cardigan in case I got too cold. I just want to hug them both. There is importance for her presence in the street. She was only supposed to be a temporary character but viewers enjoyed her and Roy together so she became a permanent fixture on the show and also the first transgendered character on a regular television show.

Gail Platt~ played by Helen Worth, has been a permanent residence on the street since July 12, 1974. (only 3 days after I was born!) She’s had more bad luck than anyone I know on the show. Being mistreated by her first husband and constantly nagged at by her mother in law for not being what she deemed “good enough for her son, Brian Tilsley. She was a single mother after the divorce from Tilsley and maintained full time employment. Gail has always been a pretty independent and strong character on the show except for when it comes to men. She’s been married three times, has three children and one grandchild. During this time she was almost murdered by her ex husband, Richard Hillman, thrown in jail, courtesy of Tracy Barlow, had a hilarious knock down fight in the cobbles with neighbor and rival, Eileen Grimshaw, having her thirteen year old daughter get pregnant, her sixteen year old son become a juvenile delinquent. It’s been rough on poor Gail, but she always keeps her head up, the gin helps, and she has her m’am with her for advice. Another thing I love about Gail, and I’m sure some of you will agree, her hair. Her hair, and the fact that she kind of reminds me a bird flitting and clucking about when she’s mad..

Some of my other favorites include, Eileen Grimshaw, Steve MacDonald and Kirk Sutherland. They are our comedic relief in the show. Whether it be Eileen’s blunt sarcasm, Steve’s witty retorts or Kirk’s clumsy stoner humor, it never ceases to arise a chuckle out this constant viewer. The show has not only great stories and a phenomenal cast, it just seems to offer a certain comfort to many of us. A constant in our lives, as constant as death and taxes. No matter how long or crappy your day may be, when that theme song starts, many of us just melt in to our chair and take a break for the next thirty minutes.

When I first decided to write a blog solely dedicated to Coronation Street, I hadn’t realized what an undertaking it would be. I may write some more in the future as a follow up, but I really just wanted to write a sort of tribute to the the show. The writers work hard, the actors work hard and for 52 years, the show has been a part of our daily routine, as important as going to work or eating that day, is sitting down with a tea and the remote for a brief journey to Weatherfield…

I have included links for anyone interested in seeing the new set in progress below. I have also included a recipe for the famous “Eccles Cakes” should anyone else like to give them a try.. Cheers.

***Check out the Coronation Street Blog here, to see pics of the new set:

http://coronationstreetupdates.blogspot.ca/2012/04/corries-new-set-april-update.html

A little history of the set construction over the years, beginning with the first initial ‘Grape Street’ set can be found here :

http://coronationstreet.wikia.com/wiki/Grape_Street_set

***Eccles Cake

Recipe : Eccles cakes aren’t cakes, but as you can see in this Eccles Cake recipe, they are a small flat pastry filled with dried fruits and spices. The popularity of the small cakes has not waned in centuries. Perhaps because they are not only delicious, they are extremely quick and easy to make *

Prep Time : 20 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 35 mins Ingredients:

1lb 2oz/ 500g puff pastry

1oz/ 25g butter, melted

Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

2 oz/55g candied peel

4 oz/ 110g sugar

8 oz/ 225g currants

Pre-heat oven to 425°/220°C/Gas 7

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and butter and cook over a medium heat until melted.

Off the heat, add currants, candied peel and nutmeg.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry thinly and cut into rounds of about ¼ inch/0.5cm thickness and 4 inch/10cm diameter.

Place a small spoonful of filling onto center of each pastry circle.

Dampen the edges of the pastry with a little cold water and draw the edges together over the fruit and pinch to seal.

Turn over the patty over, then press gently with a rolling pin to flatten the cakes. Snip a V in the top with scissors. Place on a greased baking tray.

Brush with water and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned round the edges. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool.Try not to eat them all at once!

*To learn more about the history of the “Eccles” cake, I have provided a link. It’s actually an interesting story.

*I used the website: http://britishfood.about.com/od/recipeindex/r/ecclescakes.htm for this particular recipe.

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously.

Sparky.

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About SparkyLeeGeek

I'm a cheesy broad with a good sense of humor. I'm also a self professed geek, dog lover, Whovian and music snob. I have earned money by painting, I've worked in call centers, with dogs and in the fitness industry. I also write for Bubblews http://www.bubblews.com/account/165359-sparkylee74 and I have 2 separate blogs on Blogger: "My Whovian Take" a blog dedicated to Doctor Who and "Life in Fog Goggles" a blog dedicated to daily life and living with Fibromyalgia and CFIDS. I will be featured in an upcoming Anthology for HorrorAddicts.net titled "The Horror Addict's Guide to Life" My interests range from Doctor Who, dogs, and Science Fiction to Zombies, Humor and Astronomy. Creativity is my passion.
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One Response to For the Love of the Cobbles…

  1. Pingback: What Happened to TV? | Sparkyleegeek's Blog

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