Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Arrival Of Audrey - Gail's Changing Family Background...

Their first scene together on-screen: a despondent Gail (Helen Worth) greets her newly invented mother, Audrey (Sue Nicholls).

In 1976, Gail Potter told randy Roy Thornley that her father always called her his "dizzy blonde". When Mrs Thornley decided to cite Gail as co-respondent in the divorce case she was bringing against her husband, Gail wept horrified tears. What would her Dad think? And, worst of all, what would her Mam think? We got the impression that Gail's Mam would be shocked. Very shocked indeed. In fact, we got the impression that Gail's Mam was an easily shocked homebody.

We were able to piece together Gail's family background from various things she said over the years: Mam. Dad. Not well off. But comfortable enough. A happy and secure family unit.

Of course, Gail was not cited as co-respondent in the Thornleys' divorce proceedings in the end, so an appearance by her distressed and outraged parents at Number 11, where Gail lodged with Suzie Birchall, under the watchful eyes of Elsie Tanner, was unnecessary.

Nothing more happened to upset Gail's idyllic family set-up until 1979, when the Coronation Street script writers suddenly ripped up the cosy scenario and invented Audrey Potter. She was squawky, flighty, and no better than she should be. And she was the unwed mother of Gail.

Suzie Birchall invited Audrey to Gail's 21st birthday party and Gail was very distressed.

She didn't want her (newly invented), tarty, flashy mother on the scene.

But the birthday party turned out well, and Audrey would return to the Street several times before becoming a permanent regular character in the show in 1985.

The character of Audrey developed - her desire to be upwardly mobile after her wedding to Alf Roberts in the 1980s aroused many smiles.

And she suddenly sprouted a never-before-mentioned grown-up son called Stephen.

Our Aud is always good for a laugh - and a story-line.

Right up to the current day.

It's now thirty years since Gail's re-invented mother first put in an appearance in the Street, and twenty-four years since she became a permanent regular cast member.

Good old Audrey - far more interesting than a Dad who called Gail his "dizzy blonde" and a Mam who would have been shocked by her daughter being cited as co-respondent in a divorce case.

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