Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Say Happy Birthday With Annie Walker!

I was pleasantly surprised recently to find a whole range of Coronation Street greeting cards on sale on eBay and elsewhere on-line.

What a great idea. And to feature legendary Street characters of the early years is a stroke of genius. Characters like this may be long gone, but they live on in our affections.

My own personal favourite Street character EVER is the original Rovers landlady Annie Walker - played by the brilliant Doris Speed. Annie could infuriate me with her snobbish ways, make me laugh as grandiose scheme after grandiose scheme came unstuck, and move me to tears at times of unhappiness for the character.

Because of my love for Annie, I'll be sending Annie Walker "Happy Birthday Dear" cards next year.

So, if you're a friend of mine, you know what you're getting.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Geoffrey Hughes

The other week I was feeling thoroughly cheesed off at work (one of THOSE days!) when my mind did what I call a "retro lurch" and I heard a cheery scouse voice inside my head saying: "It's a lovely day for the race! What race? The human race!" My mind often experiences these retro lurches - they throw up all sorts of things from the past when I least expect them - visions of old fashions and ancient family occasions, prehistoric snatches of music and TV dialogue - you name it! The older I get, the more it happens. In this case, the lurch made me smile. The cheery scouse voice was that of Geoffrey Hughes in his role of Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street. It brightened my day a lot.

I was very sorry to read of the death of Geoffrey Hughes. Eddie arrived in the Street in 1974, was elevated to permanent character status in 1976, became a binman and moved in with the Ogdens in 1980, and met his wife-to-be on CB radio in 1982. He bowed out in late 1983, and popped back briefly in 1987. Today, we remember him as one of the Street's legendary characters. I loved Geoffrey as Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances, too.

God bless, Geoff. Thanks for all the viewing pleasure. You made me laugh and I'll always love Eddie and Onslow. Read our 1980s newspaper interview with Geoffrey here.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Coronation Street 1989: "Mind Out, You're Treading On Mr Watts!"

This is cross-posted from '80s Actual, our sister blog, and inspired by a Back On The Street reader who absolutely LOVES the comic pairing of Kimberley Taylor and Mr Watts!

A classic Coronation Street comment from Bettabuy supermarket employee Kimberley Taylor, played by Suzanne Hall, forms the title of this post. She and poor old Curly (Kevin Kennedy) had walked straight into aggro in The Rovers Return in 1989 as building site workers picked a fight with Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). The workers were transforming the factory and community centre side of the street into a new development of houses, shops and industrial units, an enterprise of one Maurice Jones (Alan Moore). 

Wonderfully drippy Kimberley was one of several new characters introduced to the Street in 1989, including the McDonald family and Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley). The Street went three episodes a week, and Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) met his death when he was hit by a Blackpool tram.

The original Bettabuy's scenario was a great favourite of mine and I adored Curly, Kimberley and Reg. Add Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) to the supermarket staff and you had a heavenly brew.  Fabulous Corrie days!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Mystery Of Sam Littlewood And Rita's Amnesia...

Rita: "I don't know why it says '1989' on this photo, 'cos it's 1983 really. Well, at least I think so..."

 Sue writes: 

Why didn't Rita Fairclough expect to see her Uncle Sam in Blackpool when she had amnesia in 1989? After all, he lived there years earlier!

Eee, chuck! As we know, Rita's mind had retreated back to her marriage to Len. Alec Gilroy stated that Rita had blotted everything out since before Len died. We also know that Sam Littlewood (Harry Littlewood) was living in Blackpool in 1980, and that he'd retired there shortly after Len and Rita married. According to one on-line source the character died in September 1982, so it seems Rita's delusional state had taken her back to a time slightly after that.

In fact, it now seems we can confidently declare that Rita's 1989 amnesia time warp had taken her back to late 1982 or 1983.

We know she continued her singing engagements on an occasional basis under her maiden and stage name, Rita Littlewood, after her wedding to Len, and she was listed as Rita Fairclough on the hotel register (this is clearly seen when Alan Bradley arrives at the hotel searching for her), so it all fits!

She was in Blackpool, Len was at home, and Uncle Sam had died shortly before.

By gum, that was a difficult question to answer!

UPDATED 19/6/12

Monday, 18 June 2012

CHOP! CHOP! The Granada Plus Coronation Street Episodes...

Sid writes:  

I am very interested in your blog. I recently read a post of yours about the Street in 1989 and Jim and Liz McDonald discussing their new neighbours in the Rovers. I now have every episode from 1989 from Granada Plus's screenings and can find this scene nowhere! Was it an invention on your part? 

 No, Sid, it wasn't. I have a lot of full episodes of Coronation Street as originally broadcast in the 1980s and Granada Plus chopped out many scenes. Some were quite fun, the omission of a few even made some of the Plus screenings faintly puzzling as plot detail was chopped with them, but chop them they did. Also cut from the December 1989 episode you mention was a scene between Alf and Audrey Roberts, a scene between Audrey and Gail Tilsley, and a scene in which Bet Gilroy, Emily Bishop and Mavis Wilton discussed Rita Fairclough's return to the Kabin after Alan Bradley's death. 

The screen caps and dialogue of the missing 1989 Liz and Jim scene are below.
Newcomers Liz and Jim McDonald (Beverley Callard and Charles Lawson) popped into The Rovers Return to suss out their new neighbours in 1989...

Liz took a good, long squint at Mavis Wilton (Thelma Barlow) and Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire):

Jim: "What are you looking at?"

Liz: "Those two plain Janes at the bar, quietly knocking it back."

Jim: "Free country, isn't it?"

Liz: "Yeah, I know, but I didn't think they were the type."

Jim: "You're enjoying yourself, aren't yer? Standing here putting labels on everybody."

Liz: "I love it!"

Liz on Ken Barlow (William Roache): "Now, here's a mystery man!"

Jim: "Why?"

Liz: "He's too smooth for round 'ere, a bit too 'shiny-shoed'. I bet even his wife don't see him in his vest and underpants."

Jim: "Eh, now listen, I quite fancy his wife."

Liz: "Well... she's not plain."

Jim: I know, I could... er... breathe on her glasses."

Of course, at that point in time, Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) was unaware that Ken was indulging in a spot of heavy breathing with Wendy Crozier (Roberta Kerr).

And there was so much else going on.

Jim and Liz little realised just what a fascinating street they'd moved to...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Betty, The Rovers, Annie Walker's Will and The Barlow Twins...

  Annie, 1978: What she could have been saying...

"Of course, dear, the Barlow twins were born in April 1965, and next year they'll be turning fifteen. It really doesn't seem possible..."

Fiona has written:

I'm shocked that Coronation Street has tweaked the past with this terrible story about Annie leaving Betty the Rovers tenancy in her will. She left the pub and retired in 1983! This sort of tweaking would never have happened in the show's golden era - the 1970's.

Oh dear... I don't know how to tell you this, but this sort of tweaking first happened in the 1970s! The age of the Barlow twins was altered in 1978. Peter Barlow wanted to join the Navy and so his age was advanced by a year or two to make him almost old enough. Don't worry, the 1980s rectified the situation with Peter and Susan celebrating their joint twenty-first birthdays in 1986. The trend was picked up again in the 1990s when the age of Mike Baldwin's son was tweaked.

As for Annie and Bet, if Annie's will was an old one, written before she left the Rovers, I think she would have tried to pass the tenancy to her son, Billy. Also, if you watch the episodes concerned, you'll discover that Annie retired in 1984, not 1983.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Alf And Renee - Beware Of The Lorries!

Renee Roberts (Madge Hindle): Eeek - the lorries are coming!

Originally published at '80s Actual, thanks to Wendy for permission to re-publish her e-mail here.

A lovely e-mail from Wendy, who says:

I've been watching episodes of Coronation Street from 1980 and I've reached July, which contains the death of corner shop keeper Renee Bradshaw/Roberts. She's killed by a speeding lorry after stalling her husband's car in a country lane. It seems bizarre to me that Alf, her hubby, was almost killed by a lorry crashing into the Rovers Return pub the year before. It's almost like lorries were out to get Mr and Mrs Roberts!

Lol - I remember it all well, but can't say the strangeness of it registered until you mentioned it! It is most peculiar! Renee (Madge Hindle) had reigned at the Corner Shop for four years, marrying Alf (Bryan Mosley) halfway through. The production team decided that the marriage was boring and as producer Bill Podmore had always seen Alf as a Mr Green, the grocer, it meant Renee had to go. A great shame because I was very fond of the character (although I agree with the then production team that the marriage was monotonous!). The trouble was, Madge Hindle was (and I'm sure is) a brilliant character actress and she invested Renee, the astute businesswoman, with a likeable warmth and faint air of daffiness which made me miss her presence in the show a great deal.

Did you know that Madge's daughter, Charlotte Hindle, was a friend and companion to Gilbert the alien in children's series Get Fresh and Gilbert's Fridge?