A haven for couch potatoes everywhere

Thursday, 10 July 2014


A lot of last night's Corrie was predictable, in a good, reassuring way. Soaps are, after all, not supposed to be thrillers. It's engaging and comforting when characters act as you expect them to. It's like having friends who do the same brilliant and/or awful things time and again, because that's just what they're like. In other words, it's like life.

The most predictable thing that happened last night was Gary and Izzie splitting up. I'm really glad they did that. If there's one thing I've learnt over the years it's that it's better to end a boring, loveless relationship rather than, say, accidentally move in together through some kind of misguided politeness.

I hope Gary now comes on to and gets spurned by Alya, and Izzie has wild sex with Luke.

Other things I predict might happen on the Street soon (aka things I want to happen)...

- It will turn out that Michael didn't steal that big TV he gave to Gail (of course). He won it in a raffle, or got it on HP from somewhere. Then Michael will do something brave and kindly like stopping Max getting run over by Steve McDonald's campervan (dodgy handbrake plotline... Something similar happened to Henry Ramsey's ute in early-90s Neighbours, I believe*). Then Kylie and David will love Michael, after remembering that they both have dodgy pasts too and, after all, everyone forgave them. (Well, not exactly everyone, mainly just Audrey after a bit of sighing.)

- Gail will want to bonk Michael, get shy, and seek seduction advice from Sally. Somehow Rita will become involved in the conversation. Alan Bradley will get a namecheck.

- Andrea's boring husband will find out about Lloyd and come and tell him about her being married (either in a public location like the Rovers, or via a sinister back-seat-of-a-minicab whisper). Lloyd will confront Andrea about it and do an amazing emotional crying scene.

- Todd will form an unlikely yet genuine friendship with Kylie.

- Someone told me Cilla's coming back? I can't wait. Brilliant character, brilliant actress.

- There will be a Manchester Gay Pride storyline which knocks the (cock)socks off the dreadful scenes EastEnders set at London Pride a couple of weeks ago. I've never used the word cocksock before, but I just remembered an ancient EastEnders vignette where Dot and Ethel somehow ended up at a kind of Ann Summers party, and Ethel dived with glee into a box labelled "Willy Warmers", under the assumption they would be winter coats suitable for her dog (though the idea of Ethel believing that any company would sell a product specifically designed for and named after her specific dog (who was called Willy; you're following this aren't you?) speaks volumes about either Ethel's character (who I believe was NOT that naive), or serves as a historic** example of poor writing in EastEnders).

I need to go and look this up on YouTube. 

* I don't just "believe" this. I know it for a fact. 

** I almost wrote "an historic" because I'm a bit of a pretentious twat.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Fantastic double episode of Corrie last night, after some recent episodes that dragged a bit. As ever with ace Corrie (and particularly with episodes written by Jonathan Harvey), many of the thrills were all in the asides: Kylie worrying her client was dead, and Gail marvelling over the efficacy of Michael's beanbag tray.

I also loved (and hooted out loud at) Nick standing in front of his new bistro sign wearing a top-to-toe face and stance of vengeful glee. I like how Nick's recent malice has shocked even David (usually the chief malice-maker of their household). It's been the death knell for my crush on Nick though. I can't being myself to fancy someone so spiteful, even if it is linked to his brain injury and heartbreak. So now my only Street crush is Rob (I'm choosing to overlook his murderousness). Oh and Lloyd, obviously (I've had a Craig Charles crush since the early-mid 90s). I read a preview which says Lloyd is shortly to find out the truth about Andrea (the truth being that she has a husband and a university-age child). I hope it doesn't mean Andrea's departure from the Street. Surely she can leave the husband and come to live near Lloyd; she could live with Eileen in her roomy and stress-free lodgings, perhaps. And get a job at the Rovers or the factory or Just Nick's (hoot!) Bistro! (For more on Weatherfield residents' inability to find work more than four steps from their front door, read the post before this one, written by my friend Tom in a fine return to blogging form.)

More observations from last night:

- Eva gets increasingly brilliant. I reckon she'll be around for years to come. She's Leanne's rock, Jason's true love, and will become the nation's sweetheart. Then they'll hit us with a massive traumatic storyline for her, and it will be amazing. 

- They need to give Steph more to do than eat chips and release balloons. Looking uncomfortable at Nick's rage is not making the most of her character.

- Sally + Tim = brilliant. Just brilliant.

- Deirdre complaining about Freshco's self service checkouts ("They scare me") and cigarette-buying process ("All those sliding doors... she sees me coming") while wearing what we can only describe as a classic Deirdre belt = brilliant.

- Peter Barlow has the same hipflask as me! I'd never use mine in a pub though, especially not a pub run by my best mate (as was... What actually is the status of Peter and Steve's friendship at the moment?).

- I like Tracy's non-appearance on screen being explained by her eating a burger in bed while pretending to be having a bath. Makes a nice change from going upstairs to play tapes. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Corrie and Eastenders seem to have put their main storylines on the back-burner for the moment, presumably to give the viewer - and the writers - a break from the drama and intensity of recent weeks. Both storylines have actually been handled pretty well (Tina balloon release notwithstanding) but both soaps now seem to be struggling to know what to do with the remaining narratives, which range from the sublime (Sonia’s life-imitating-art Fatbusters club) via the ridiculous (Gail and Les Dennis - more on that later) to the downright dull (Roxie’s two-timing Latvian).

One of my current favourites is the EastEnders gay storyline which has been handled with a good mix of sensitivity and humour. Johnny has been struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and the doting attentions of his overbearing mother, played quite wonderfully by the girl from The Upper Hand. After quite a bit of soul searching on both sides they seem to have made their peace with the situation.  Of course, this being EastEnders, Johnny can’t just be allowed to get on with his life; oh no, he has to be ceremoniously dropped off by his mum and sister at a rainbow flag-festooned pub in Soho in the middle of Pride whilst people throw glitter from an upstairs window. Within seconds he has met what we presume will be his first boyfriend, a slightly wonky-toothed chap by the name of Gianluca.

So now, instead of being hunched over his iPhone exchanging boudoir pics with the other boys on Grindr like any normal gay person, he’s tapping nervously away at some museum piece Nokia waiting for this mysterious foreign chap to call.

This is why soaps are such a guilty pleasure for me: as much as they try to comment on the big topics of the day - sometimes in a genuinely touching and though-provoking way - they tend to come unstuck when trying to play out the minutiae of real life.

In real world, people get jobs in shops or offices which are not usually located on their own doorstep. In Corrie, practically everyone lives a 30-second walk from work; no wonder you never see anyone on the Weatherfield Wayfarer. How that line continues to turn a profit is beyond me. Likewise, EastEnders has a rich history of highly unrealistic and madcap get-rich-quick schemes, the latest of which being Alfie Moon’s accidental venture into the world of gourmet ice cream (with flavours including bacon and egg, duck, and stout). In true Walford style, after a shaky start and a bit of banter, the non-speaking extras were queuing up, grinning and nodding their approval and thrusting crumpled fivers into Alfie´s meaty palms.

Soap’s recent portrayals of alcoholism haven’t rung true either. Actual alcoholics don’t usually roam the streets gurning, brandishing bottles of generic spirit and passing out on car lots. Nonetheless, Shirley and Peter are both frequently to be found sneering and slinking around like a pair of Victorian villains before falling asleep clutching their beloved bottles of ”VODKA” and “GIN”.

More recently, soaps have developed quite a penchant for referring to real-world events, so it was interesting to see EastEnders and Corrie having a crack at working Ramadan into the scripts. I think the aim was to for it to be nonchalantly dropped in, which in the case of Eastenders worked fairly well.  Corrie was a different story: it was like a sledgehammer going through a wedding cake. The toe-curling “What? Not even water?” line was Corrie at its most dire: slapstick meets clunking attempt at inclusivity. Not good.  

To be fair neither soap really reflects the geographical areas they are supposed to be set in. The dialogue in Corrie is more ‘eckky thump than Shameless and can it really be that we only just got our first glimpse of Walford’s Polski Sklep ten years after Poland’s accession to the EU? 

Australian soaps always excelled at unbelievable overnight transformations. Put a bad boy under Helen Daniels’ or Pippa Ross’ roof and they’d wake up the next day a shining paragon of virtue. UK soaps have been less keen on such miracle redemptions but Corrie seems to have strayed into those murky waters with the whole Les Dennis storyline - I refuse to use his character’s name for two simple reasons: firstly because I’ve had too much generic spirit and can’t remember it and secondly because the character is Les Dennis, in full Big Brother meltdown mode, a quivering, stuttering wreck of a man. Les Dennis was at his best when doing impressions of Mavis Riley on the Russ Abbott show; he should not be appearing on Corrie doing impressions of himself. I can only hope his stint in Weatherfield will be merciful in its brevity.

One recent transformation I did enjoy was when EastEnders’ Mick went from being  scared to put his head under water to olympic swimmer in just one lesson with Ian Beale. Personally, I think they could have put in a Footloose-style time-lapse sequence there. That would have been truly excellent backed with a bit of pacy music. A missed opportunity.

In any case, I’m enjoying the soaps meander down a few false paths at the moment; after all, nothing can be consistently excellent but Corrie and EastEnders are certainly proving consistently entertaining, if not always for the right reasons.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


I'm not normally one to get personally bothered by the death of a celebrity, but the passing of Rik Mayall has shaken me up. The Young Ones and Bottom were a big part of my childhood and teenage years, and I watched them time and again with my family and friends. I didn't realise at the time how groundbreaking The Young Ones was, it just made me laugh a lot. Rewatching it recently, I saw there was a lot to admire in all who wrote and performed it (and still a lot to make me laugh). 

Bottom was the programme of choice for me and my friends during my mid-teens. It coincided with my discovery of booze (though I never drank the pernod, ouzo, marmalade and salt cocktail the characters invented, of which I have just tried in vain to find a clip), and my friends and I watched endless episodes while drinking Diamond White. I also wrote poetry at the time; in fact I was not unlike this:


RIP Rik Mayall, you were brilliant. 

(With thanks to the friend who posted this quote on facebook yesterday which reminded me of the above clip.)

Monday, 2 June 2014


I can't decide which fashion item from tonight's 7.30 Corrie I prefer: Liz McDonald's red bandeau top with black chiffon neckline, or Carla's lawyer Pauline's amazing monochrome outfit complete with black patent quilted chain-strap handbag. If I ever get arrested I'm calling her.

Friday, 30 May 2014


Coronation Street, Thursday 29th May

I'm a bit late with this one, but here we go anyway...

The episode started with lots of silence, not unlike EastEnders in the aftermath of Lucy's Beale's death. My favourite thing about Corrie is the dialogue (closely followed by Rita's wig, Deirdre's belts, and the theme tune), so the silence unsettled me a bit. It was good and tension-inducing though, as was the later experimentation with camerawork: point-of-view shots as Rob went to pick up the weapon and the trinkets he'd taken from Tina's flat (one of which he dropped in the ginnel/entry... sleuthing ahoy), and I think there was a low-angle zoom on him at one point. None of this is standard on the Street, but I think a special murder week calls for such variation, and I was not displeased with the effect. I liked Rob's choice of burial spot for the evidence: under the viaduct. Now there's a potential location for a nighttime dig-up / confrontation / screaming match. I bet that stuff won't stay buried for long.

I loved the fact that Rita and David were keeping a vigil by Tina's hospital bed. Actually, I loved the fact that this episode skipped the tedious hospital check-in procedure and Rita's sleepless night, dropping us into the action in the cold light of day. The doctor treating Tina had a lovely kindly, relaxing voice. I don't think he'll be able to stick her brains back together though, sadly. Actually, gladly, given that she's not a real person and as a character she's much more excitement-producing when dead.

Tracy had some good lines, notably commenting on Tina being pretty ("Not any more she's not") and passing comment on the identity of the murderer in an investigative style which would not have been out of place in Sheerluck Holmes, the racist comedy play produced by my secondary school when I was in Year 10. "It's an open and shut case as far as I'm concerned," she said. All she needed then was a group of thirteen-year-old girls dressed as prostitutes (in frocks made by the textiles teacher) singing "Illicit Solicit" behind her to really recreate Stretford's arts scene in the mid-90s. Tracy and Rob's tense agreement to be each other's alibi, while both accusing each other's sibling of the head-bashing crime, is going to make good viewing over the next few episodes I think.

Meanwhile, over at Anna and Owen's, Anna has revealed to the girls that "Real life can sometimes be a letdown". Lots of meaningful glances and barbed comments passed between her and Owen before he went off laying tarmac. Katy was sad that the couple had left the hotel early: "Me dad was proper looking forward to it," she said. Is it just me who thinks that a dad shouldn't be telling his daughter how much he's looking forward to bonking his partner in a hotel room? This follows on from an episode a few weeks ago where Owen cried in Katy's arms because Anna was refusing to do it with him. I just don't think this is a realistic father-daughter conversational topic, and it grates on me a bit. 

There was a lot of Carla brilliance in last night's episode. Top acting, top writing. "You chose to drop your trousers," she said to Peter. He cowered in a sniveling heap. His lines and performance are doing a great job of painting him as a truly self-serving horror. I hope Rob and Carla gang up and frame him for the murder.

Other things I enjoyed in the episode:

- Liz sticking up for Tina.
- The male police officer's short tie.
- Reference to a panama hat. (Is that restaurant Panama Hatty's still there in Manchester? I used to love it.)
- Reference to a pasty. (I think I'm homesick.)
- Kirk telling people he got dropped on the head as a child, but "got away with it."

BUT... where are Kal's glasses? I do like a man in glasses; when he takes them off in preparation for a clinch, he immediately sees his partner in soft focus, which is nice for Leanne (casting no aspersions on her attractiveness, I'm just thinking of the insecure preoccupations which sometimes go hand-in-hand with taking a new lover).

I'm looking forward to the next episode, hopefully the glasses will make a reappearance.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Dead again

Coronation Street, 28th May 2014

Noise-wise, Rob's frightened breathing at the start of tonight's episode was matched only by Tina's very-much-not-dead groans. She fell silent soon enough, of course. Rob eyeing up the lead piping in the skip turned this into a lifesize working-class game of Cluedo. So much more interesting than a bunch of toffs in a mansion; even though there's no whodunnit mystery left for viewers, there's plenty of exciting suspicion amongst the characters.

I loved Rob and Tracy accidentally meeting at the back gate as they both snuck home from their illegal activities. The sound of sirens signalled a mutual agreement to not talk about where they'd both been, for now at least. 

My favourite scene though was Steve trying to cheer Peter up with the thought that it might "all blow over", while Michelle and Liz laid into him, both clutching glasses of Chardonnay. It was like a Salfordian version of Kath and Kim's "wine time", especially when Liz proclaimed Peter a "jellyfish".

Talking of Salford, I've been having discussions on Facebook about Rob pronouncing Ordsall wrongly in last night's episode. I'm surprised that happened... Not Marc Baylis's fault, but there should be a local pronunciation expert to hand, surely? Actually, I've had conversations recently about whether the ginnel (that all-important location) is even called a ginnel in Salford. Some suggest it's called an entry. Further research needed. 

The quick cut to Beth popping a cork at the very moment Rob bashed Tina's brains out was a nice touch. Seems she's hanging on in there though. All that glossy hair must offer some protection. 

Elsewhere, Anna has told Owen about what happened between her and Phelan. Excellent writing and performances in those scenes, capturing exactly what it's like when things fall apart. 

Carla's falling-apart dialogue was perhaps less convincing: a few cliches and un-Carla-ish comments, though I guess cliches are what comes out first in times of real-life crisis. There was one killer line though: "I have never felt so pregnant." It made me gasp.

Peter's lines did a great job of making him come across like a wimp and a chump and a truly deplorable person. Great performances from both actors as Peter finally came clean, seemingly in an attempt to duck any further responsibility for anything, ever again. If anyone wants throwing off a balcony, it's him.

Final mention for Drunk Deirdre, hollering up the stairs to Rob and Tracy's empty bed, then returning to the pub to bash on the lounge door while Peter cowered inside. He really is a jellyfish.