Sunday, 26 September 2010

Goodbye, Len Fairclough - And Some Thoughts About Men In Coronation Street

1980 - Rita gives Len, who was going through a slobbish phase, a right lambasting.

Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) was one of the Street's legendary male characters from 1961 to 1983.

Who could forget his on-off romance with Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) in the 1960s, his marriage to Rita Littlewood (Barbara Knox) in the 1970s, and his late-in-life stint as a foster parent in the early 1980s?

In 1983, the character was killed off in a road accident. There were backstage problems for Peter Adamson, but I regretted the end of the character.

Len was a real working class man of the times, and was one of the few men in the Street who could hold his own against those wonderful womenfolk.

The Street was always a matriarchal society, and I loved the fact, but nowadays it seems to me that the show's women are seen as a thoroughly superior species, whatever their wrongs, whilst the men are... well... lesser beings.

The last time I tuned in, it was to witness a woman shrieking at Roy Cropper (David Neilson) that he was the only man in her life that had never hurt her.

Wow! All the men in her life had hurt her... her father, her uncles, her neighbours, her teachers, her employers, her friends, her lovers...

What beasts we are!

But Len, flawed though he was, was also a man to be relied upon. Brash and handy with his fists in the early days, Len was still a good guy.

And he stood shoulder to shoulder with the glorious Street women as somebody we viewers could recognise and emphasise with.

Whatever Len did wrong, and there was plenty (in 1980 he even gave Rita a "good 'iding") we knew he was likeable. And complex - like most human beings, regardless of gender.

Street writer Peter Whalley declared in a 1990s interview that the Street's men were shiftless, idle and untrustworthy because of the original template laid down by the show's creator Tony Warren in 1960.

But that's not true. Jack Walker (Arthur Leslie), Harry Hewitt (Ivan Beavis), Frank Barlow (Frank Pemberton) and Mr Swindley (Arthur Lowe) were all dependable, hard working characters. Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth) may have developed into a bit of a grouse and penny pincher after the first few weeks, but this was also a man who had worked all his life, and fought in the First World War.

The Street doesn't do Len Faircloughs any more.

Or Harry Hewitts, or Frank Barlows or...

And I think it's a shame.

In the modern day Street, I wouldn't trust a lot of the male characters with a jar of Bovril, and the women tend to be sexist martyrs.

Reality?

Not where I live.

Thankfully.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I like this blog as it's not as fawning as some!

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  2. Fawning or just enthusiastic? I loved the Street "back in the day", but I've always been a critical so-and-so!

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  3. The Street became man-hating in the '90s. The soap for men with mother complexes and dedicated misandrists.

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