Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thoroughly Modern Corrie – Weatherfield in the age of Social Media


What really struck me about Jenny Bradley’s return is how much Weatherfield has changed since her last visit. And last Wednesday’s episode – the vehicle for her reappearance – drove the point home faster than a Ferrari that had just passed its MOT at Websters' Auto Centre.


For starters – before sharing a pudding – Kevin and Jenny found each other through an online dating site, now an extremely common way of meeting people but virtually (pardon the pun) unheard of twenty years ago.


“Anyone can look good on t’internet”, teased Tyrone but luckily for Kev, Jenny looks just like her profile picture – which is always a bonus! Tyrone, however, looks nothing like the David Beckham pic on his Tinder profile, or so went the pre-date banter in the Garage.

Elsewhere, Sean’s Social Media strategy to promote his homemade biryani proved somewhat counter-productive:


“Don’t get me wrong – it was a very nice biryani – but once I’d Tweeted it, Instagrammed it, done a Vine of it and Snapchatted it – the blessed thing had gone cold!”

I only use one of those sites (Twitter – and not enough) and so the zeitgeist buzzwords were largely lost on me. But it did make me ponder and then chuckle about what my Grandparents would think of all the modern references.


It’s a changing world – indeed the only constant is change – and it’s fascinating to consider how different the world of Weatherfield is now compared to how it was ten, twenty, thirty, forty and fifty years ago.

If Jenny Bradley had fallen pregnant under Rita’s roof, for example, I can’t imagine she would have announced, “I’m having a baby LOL”.

Faye’s remark about texting the truth to Anna was another reminder of this modern world we live in. In fact, wasn’t it a Facebook rumour that first alerted Craig to the fact Faye could use a friend?


Next week I reckon Nozzer will download Foursquare onto his Tablet and start competing with Emily, Rita and Mary to become Mayor of The Rovers! I’d love to see Sean give Norris a Social Media masterclass. Some digital marketing could be great for business at The Kabin.

Modern technology has certainly changed the way that I enjoy Coronation Street. Catch-up TV means I never miss an episode and with the constant flow of official posts, memes, previews and tweets, I’d know what was going on even if I did.


The advent of blogging and the Coronation Street Blog (thank you Glenda) mean I also have somewhere to share my thoughts about Corrie and a community of like-minded people from all over the world with whom I can discuss my favourite show (thank you everyone).

.

I actually watched last Wednesday’s episode on my laptop while travelling to Manchester to meet my fellow Coronation Street Bloggers for the very first time. That was last Friday and we had a cracking day out.

We even met Corrie’s Digital Editor who does a great job of managing the Coronation Street website and the various social media platforms. I will share some memories of the day if I can tear myself away from Instagramming my tea!

What do you think? Is it a better experience for us Corrie fans in this cyber age of constant and instant information or do you feel that less was more? Feel free to Tweet, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat your thoughts but for those of us less au fait with social networking than Sean Tully, please also leave your comments here.

By Martin Leay
Twitter: @mpleay  

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Strange Case of Todd Grimshaw


There is a long tradition in literature and drama of exploring notions of villainy, and exquisitely dreadful characters have transferred to and been born on our television and cinema screens. From Dorian Gray to Walter White, we have been presented with complex characters who make us doubt the clarity of the boundaries between good and evil, and pose questions which run to our very core. 

These are not mere mischief makers, but human beings whose stricken moral compasses invoke both an intellectual and emotional response in reader and viewer alike. From the silent battles occurring within us all between who we are, who we want to be and who we should be, and what is right versus what is desired, emerges the concept of The Double where, as Robert Louis Stevenson puts it in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, “man is not truly one, but truly two.”

Some might say that such weighty themes are not the realm of soap, but I ask, why not? In fact, Coronation Street has a history of complex villains, and presents an excellent example in the form of Todd Grimshaw.

Todd is intelligent, quick witted and clever, and has undergone a metamorphosis that has triggered his transition from good-natured individual to a manipulative, scheming adversary. I would prefer if we knew the reason for his transformation, as it would certainly go some way toward explaining it, but it is likely that he experienced some disappointment in London which has induced his current state.

In The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud considers the notion of The Double, and writes “…there are all the possibilities which, had they been realised, might have shaped our destiny, and to which our imagination still clings, all the strivings of the ego that were frustrated by adverse circumstances, all the suppressed acts of volition that fostered the illusion of free will.”

With this in mind, I like to think of Todd as railing against the utter disappointment of his failure to achieve his potential in life, and that his machinations are the result of sheer boredom, bitterness and frustration. He uses his intelligence for bad rather than good, and gains satisfaction from making others miserable. He is therefore a complex character, and while I will shortly question what he has become, his presence has been welcome as far as I’m concerned, not least on foot of what Bruno Langley has brought to the role.

There was a point at which I recall Todd sparkling as something of a Shakespearean fool, and in March 2014 wrote the following in an episode review from that time: “I’ve been singing Todd’s praises lately, and he continued to be exceptional this evening. He is ever ready with a witty aside, some wise words, and is increasingly a source of deadpan humour. Steve faces stiff competition after Carla sings Peter’s praises to Michelle. As he comes up with ideas to treat her, Todd indifferently swats away his suggestions like so many irritating flies. Flowers are unimaginative, the idea of theatre makes him choke on his lollipop, and karaoke at the Hen and Squirrel, where it’s a pound a pint, invokes particular disdain….His insistence that Eileen go through with her apology to Liz is in essence the reason why they make up, and succeeds in making him endearing despite his, at times, deplorable behaviour.”

He appeared at this time like an outsider commenting on the programme from within. His disdain was a source of humour, and despite all his unpardonable deeds, there was nevertheless a goodness at the heart of his cynicism. His lines were metatheatre, and it was a joy to watch.

However, by October 2014, having seduced Marcus and been responsible for almost ruining Jason’s business, Todd’s Machiavellian chickens finally came home to roost and he was completely frozen out by his loved ones. His twinkling disdain for the world around him was royally doused, and despite his genuine attempts to make amends and his sincere remorse for what he had done, he was roundly rejected by all, making him a sympathetic character.

The following month, Todd found a true friend in Roy who advised him to build bridges with those he had alienated, citing it as “good for the soul”. 

Todd took this seriously and attempted to do so. After he cleaned up the cafĂ© following an egging, Roy later declared in front of Todd’s detractors that “everyone deserves a second chance,” and bought him a pint. A genuinely grateful and humble Todd was sincerely relieved at what he considered progress. I wrote at this time, “he strikes me as a character with plenty of potential who could demonstrate positive change from the hard lessons he’s learned. While we’re sadly assured Todd’s difficult times don’t end just yet, let’s hope he’ll come out the other side a fully redeemed individual so that we can see the best he has to offer.”

Unfortunately this has not come to pass.

A good character underwent a metamorphosis which saw him transform into a malevolent individual. However, on realising the full weight of his misdeeds and demonstrating true remorse, he achieved redemption, and I feel a man of Todd’s intellect is unlikely to regress following such an experience. However, despite his subsequent assault and facial scarring gaining him the love he so craved, he seems to have done just that, and is now lashing out at all around him, albeit in a covert way.

The mirror image is a classic trope when it comes to The Double, and as villainous Todd stares at his reflection, scarred and bruised, he is faced with his Jekyll and Hyde duality. Instead of rejecting it on foot of his recent redemption, however, he resigns himself to inflicting continued pain on others.

My problem with this is that his scheming appears devoid of worthy purpose, and his motives are far too weak to do a man of his intelligence any credit. Like Todd himself has failed to fulfil his potential in life, I feel his characterisation is heading the same way; art is imitating art.

Now you may say that Todd is simply a bad person who likes to do cruel things, but I feel there is more to him than that. A character of such quality with depth and dimension who acts with intelligence and who has shown feeling and remorse  deserves a storyline to match, and for me, his current schemes are simply beneath him.

Todd’s malice is borne out of a poor motive, and therefore doesn’t ring true for me. Bring back the metatheatrical jester who doesn’t claim to be anything he isn’t unless for playful purposes, who offers an alternative window on the street, and puts his cynicism and intellect to good use. Have him retain his relief at his redemption. Show that he has learned a lesson from the pain of rejection, and allow the scars of recollection rather than those inflicted physically to guide his actions.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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The many men of Eileen Grimshaw

With the news that Eileen Grimshaw is going to get a new fella, it's time to look back at those who have been loved and lost by Eileen.   
We know that Jason's dad is Tony Stewart - and has been played by two different actors. Eileen caught Tony in bed with another girl when she was pregnant with Jason. Tony proposed to Eileen when he found out she was expecting but she turned him down.

Todd’s dad was dependable and was making plans for them as a family when Eileen got scared and legged it. She regretted it afterwards. We've never seen Todd's dad, have we?

Dennis Stringer. Dennis took Eileen to Paris for her birthday but soon broke her heart when he fell for Janice Battersby. He left Eileen and moved in with Janice but he died in a car crash shortly after.

Harry Flagg, She dated Harry briefly after Jason and his girlfriend Candice put a "lonely hearts" ad in a paper on her behalf but they've decided they are just friends.

Ed Jackson.  Ed was revealed to be Ernest Bishop’s killer from almost 30 years ago.

Phil Nail. Eileen and Gail both became attracted to reflexologist (aka Phil the foot-fiddler) Phil Nail when he started working at the Rosamund Street Medical Centre, Gail was the one who eventually won his affections.
Pat Stanaway. Pat the Irishman (no, it's not a game) turned out to be dating six other women at the same time he was seeing Eileen.

Jerry Morton. Eileen dumped him after he had no time for her.


Jesse Chadwick. Eileen let Jesse move into her home, and she put up with his annoying parrot. However, she wasn't happy when Jesse began using her newfound sister Julie as his sidekick.  She dumped after he had a big win on the horses and used the money to take his parents on holiday.

Paul Kershaw. Paul the fireman was married and his wife Lesleby had Alzheimer's Disease, early on-set dementia. Paul proposed to Eileen and said he wanted to divorce Lesley. Eileen struggled to come to terms with Paul continuing to work in the fire service following the fire at the Rovers. Paul and Eileen agree it is best that they separate and Paul gets a transfer to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

If I've missed any of Eileen's many men, do please let me know!

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Preview of tonight's Coronation Street - Weds 25 Feb

Wednesday 25th February
IT’S A CLOSE SHAVE FOR TRACY AND TONY. Tony sets off with Tracy to buy a job lot of stolen electrical goods. He promises Liz he’ll be home in time to take her out. Tony and Tracy meet up with an old mate of Tony’s. Tracy plays hard ball but they eventually strike a deal. However as Tony and Tracy prepare to leave with their van load of knock off goods, a police car pulls up beside them.
RITA IS HAUNTED BY A FACE FROM THE PAST. After a chat with Sally, Sophie gives Kevin her blessing, telling him he can go out with Jenny if he likes, she just doesn’t want to see him get hurt. Kevin’s pleased at her change of heart. Having ascertained that Rita is away, Jenny agrees to accompany Kevin to the Rovers. But Rita returns home early and insists Norris, Emily and Mary join her for a birthday drink. As Rita approaches the bar, how will she react as Jenny wishes her a happy birthday?
LLOYD AND STEVE EACH BLAME THEMSELVES. Still clearly awkward with each other, Lloyd tells Steve he doesn’t want any bad blood between them.
ELSEWHERE Jason mopes in front of the telly whilst Eileen fusses round him. Todd’s quietly jealous, his hatred of Eileen growing. Liz worries that they’re short-staffed at the Rovers. When Eileen offers her services, admitting she could do with some extra cash, Liz takes her on. Will Eileen prove to be a hit behind the bar? Handing Luke the key to her flat, Maria leaves him to crack on with the tiling.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mark Moraghan joins Corrie as Eileen's new fella

Former Holby City actor Mark Moraghan has joined Coronation Street as a new love interest for Eileen Grimshaw.

Digital Spy reveals that the actor has landed the guest role of Adrian, who is introduced to the cobbles when Eileen decides to try internet dating.

Moraghan announced his own casting on Twitter after filming his first scenes last week, but details of his role can be confirmed for the first time today.


Adrian will make his first appearance on screen in April and a Coronation Street spokesperson told Digital Spy that he will be sticking around for at least a few months.

Eileen has a history of heartbreak in the romance department, so it remains to be seen whether life dating Adrian will be any happier for her.

Mark's official website is here.

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Spoilers for next week's Coronation Street, March 2 - 6

Without any piffle, here's the storyline for the week ahead on Coronation Street, all wrapped up nicely in 50 words or less.

Week of Monday 2 to Friday 6 March



Anna takes Faye to GP, Real Gavin turns up and blackmails Gandy, Rita rejects Jenny’s offer to pay back cash, Erica returns, Sharif and Roy want an allotment.
 
The full weekly preview, with pictures is right here on Corrie.net

Missed last week's Corrie?
Catch up with the Coronation Street Weekly Updates   

  
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Why Melanie Hill is the perfect actress to play Roy's friend

I was very excited to learn yesterday that actress Melanie Hill is joining Coronation Street to play Roy's new lady friend.

Here's what we know about Roy's new friend. Roy gets his own allotment to grow some fruit and veg, and meets a widowed lady on the next allotment lot. This is where Cathy, played by Melanie Hill, will come into Roy's life.

She won't be a love interest - but someone who Roy will feel obliged to help guide through the world. Roy will offer real, redemptive support to Cathy.

I think Melanie Hill is the perfect casting to play Roy's new lady friend, romance or not.  Melanie Hill is an actress that, I think, the British public hold in some high esteem. She was Aveline in Bread, Hazel in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Cilla Black's mam in the recent ITV drama Cilla.  How much more cosy and Roy-friendly do you want?  Melanie is a RADA trained stage actress too. In my opinion, she's the perfect casting to play Roy's new friend.

We all love Roy, and couldn't bear to see him hurt or distressed in any way. I don't think any of us wanted Mary to get her talons into him after Hayley died, and thankfully Corrie steered away from this carefully and discreetly.

With the introduction of such a well-loved actress as Melanie Hill to play a role in our favourite show matching up against such a well-loved character as Roy, I see the stars aligning and things are going to be perfectly matched.  It won't be the Perfect Duet that was Roy and Hayley, of course as there could never be a love story as perfect as theirs. But I'm warmed by the thought of Melanie Hill and David Neilson working together on Corrie and look forward to the appearance of Cathy on screen.  I don't think Coronation Street would dare get this relationship wrong. We all care about Roy far too much.

It's just over a year since Roy's wife Hayley died of pancreatic cancer.  Making friends with a new woman could be just the tonic for Roy that he needs, I feel.  

<< You can relive Roy and Hayley's romance in my little book A Perfect Duet: The Diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Coronation Street double episode review, Monday 23 Feb

I do not think I have ever wanted a cobbles couple to stay together as much as Eva and Jason. They seem so well-suited. Their relationship was real, unslushy, respectful of each other and concerned for each other. It was never going to be the case that their intellects would set the world on fire, but they are practical people, and unlike some intellectuals, actually know how to make a slice of toast, pull a pint and do building work.

Jason had turned a corner, become the good guy, more mature and very hardworking, along with a strong sense of responsibility. He is also easy on the eye.

Eva has become one of my favourite characters after her initial pouty, rather spoilt, moody incarnation. She too has grown up, stands on her own two feet and after the bad luck she’d previously had with men, has now found love and stability with Jason. She too is attractive and, along with many others, I was looking forward to Jason and Eva’s offspring, perhaps having inherited Eva’s laugh. And then!

Todd’s interference is really quite malevolent. His own brother is clearly heartbroken and yet on seeing Eva, Todd tells her that Jason must be upset deep down, but that he has been playing video games with Todd, apparently quite happily. Of course Todd wants to make Eva think that Jason is not really upset at all. Sean very much hopes they will get back together as does Eileen. Eileen is wholly duped by her younger son and even thanks him for being so caring to Jason.

What should Eva do? Should she do her best to put behind her Jason’s accusation of her having an affair with his father, Tony, or should she finish it all?

‘Eva I love you so much,’ says Jason. Eva replies, ‘You thought I was sleeping with your dad! I am so hurt. I feel like I’ve got an actual physical pain.’ Jason hands her the ticket to New York, but Eva says she’ll let him know. ‘I love you so much,’ Jason declares. ‘I know – you said,’ replies a very understandably cold Eva.

Todd’s interference is so frustrating, though undoubtedly very effectively executed. His guise of being helpful and supportive has been nothing but designed to cause Eva and Jason distress. Todd’s killing of Eva’s call was probably the worst thing he did.

Good to see Lloyd back, but matters between him and Steve are not working well. Lloyd is too harsh and will not indulge Steve’s depression one little bit. Lloyd is surprised by Steve’s apparently cheerful mood. Lloyd confronts Steve about the coach crash and Sinead’s dreadful injury and the possibility of Steve having almost ruined the business. Michelle and Liz jump to Steve’s defence. Lloyd’s attitude to depression is that of many people who will not grant as much significance to psychological problems as they do to obvious physical problems.

Tony and Tracy are ‘doing the books’ their euphemism for sleeping together, this time at Tracy’s house. Ken had offered to take Amy out after school for something to eat. But they return home early – Tracy feigns a headache and Tony is holed up in the outhouse with Eccles scratching at the door.

Bursting into he Rovers later Tracy declares that she is glowing and that this is because of her new man. ‘Pity the poor bloke,’ says Liz. Playing with fire Tracy suggests that her new man might be up Liz’s street until Liz declares that ‘blind idiots’ are not her type.


Tony tries to lay the law down. Liz is the real thing and with Tracy it is just a bit of fun. That can surely only goad Tracy, who won’t be happy playing second fiddle to anyone. She would like a weekend away and it looks as if Tony is game. With Liz feeling it would not be right to go gadding about to see Queen because storyline this!
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