Friday, 15 October 2010

The Claytons Of No 11 Coronation Street - Harry, Connie, Sue And Andrea... What Went Wrong?

Jane Hazlegrove, Johnny Leeze, Susan Brown and Caroline O'Neill - the Claytons of Coronation Street. But not for long...

Ian writes:

Whilst all other Corrie sites are sucking up the doomy vibe about the 50th anniversary tram crash, on this one I've found Percy Sugden, Victor Pendlebury, Ena Sharples and the Clayton family! I like it very much. Talking of the Claytons, can you tell me why you think the family failed? Looking back, I don't think they were given much time.

Hi, Ian - thanks for your comments. Great to have feedback.

We'd be sucking up the "doomy vibe" about the tram crash too, but we don't cover the modern day Street!

As for the Claytons... well, I'm not sure what went wrong. I wasn't watching Corrie all the time back then as I was having an exciting time in real life, but I do recall catching an episode in which Harry and Connie came to look at No 11. I was immediately impressed by the possible future dynamics between the couple as Harry seemed laid back and Connie a bit of a moaner - perhaps even slightly neurotic. I recall she voiced doubts about moving into the house and didn't like the atmosphere.

Promising stuff, I thought!

Was Connie going to find out about the colourful past of the house in the Elsie Tanner era?

And how would she react to that?

"Ooh, Harry, I thought this house had a funny atmosphere. Lord knows what that woman got up to! There should be a red light outside! I don't like it here..."

The two sisters - Andrea and Sue - one academically inclined, the other totally not so, also seemed promising. Soaps thrive on conflict (in the 1980s, it was more of the everyday variety than much of what occurs today), and I anticipated at least a few spats between Andrea and Sue:

"You're stuck-up!"

"Well you're a no-hoper!"

Perhaps Harry, trombone-playing milkman dad, would be an easy-going peacemaker, probably rather hen pecked?

But no, the Claytons seemed to be a happy, united family with no conflicts between members.

Of course, they could have been a happy, united family, with a bit of conflict between members.

Most families I know are like that.

But no.

The Claytons got on very well together.

Recalling some of the now legendary (in my house) rows between my two sisters, and the occasional bust-up between my mother and step-father, I wasn't terribly convinced.

Andrea's involvement with Terry Duckworth I found unconvincing, too. Terry always seemed too old for his age (I was supposedly a contemporary of his, but always saw him as being a good five years older than me), had no fashion sense, and I couldn't imagine there ever being any spark between him and Andrea.

The conflict with the Duckworths, when Vera tried to out-Dynasty Dynasty with that dreadful dress, was good, but the relationships within the Clayton family continued on the flat and friendly level.

And so Andrea became pregnant by Terry and the family left.

I was sorry. The acting was always first rate, and I saw great potential in Connie when I first saw her looking at the house.

Interviewed years later, Susan Brown agreed that the Claytons did not work:

"But the really interesting thing is that the four of us got on fantastically well together, we were inseparable. There was a lot of talk about them wanting a very ordinary family but the characters were never defined and I never felt I had a big handle on the character."

Caroline O'Neill said:

"They wanted just a normal, ordinary family, but you can't just give that on speck, you have to have specifics. In the end I spent six months moaning about my A Levels, which was terribly boring and uninteresting. I had a couple of scenes just before I left when I was pregnant which were quite nice but they never followed that through either."

The Clayton family lived at No 11 from January to August 1985. I regretted their leaving. It was rare to see a whole new family - Mum, Dad, kids - moving into The Street in those days - and I did find the characters likeable.

Fortunately, the introduction of the McDonald family, who moved into No 11 in 1989, worked out rather better!

1 comment:

  1. I thought Connie Clayton was a fab name for a soap character!