Coronation Street, ITV1
Vintage Neighbours, BBC1
Vintage Home and Away, ITV1
As we all know, Coronation Street celebrates its 50th aniversary this year. Rumour is rife about the possible return of some familiar and well-loved faces from the soap's past. Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch), Sherrie Hewson (Maureen Naylor) and even Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) have all been mentioned but none have so far been confirmed.
Rita, before "Lake Me"
Perhaps to sate our appetite in the meantime, we have been treated to another (slightly less spectacular) return in the form of Rita, who has rejoined the cast after a brief hiatus. As you may recall, Rita unexpectedly sold up the Kabin a few months ago and headed off into the sunset after decalring it was time "to swim in Lake Me." It seems that while she was on her travels, she may have taken a dip in the fountain of eternal youth (or at the very least, the fountain of eternal Botox). Yes, not only has Barbara Knox's wig had a trim and tint but her mini-break seems to have given her whole face a...lift, shall we say?
Whatever rejeuvenating procedure she may have undergone, it has done nothing to cool her temper; her charity shop ding-dongs with Emily are testament to that. But Rita's return got me thinking...she might be looking a little fresher these days but her transformation is nothing compared to some of the baffling metamorphoses the soaps have treated us to over the years. Let's take some time to have a look at a few favourites from years gone by...
Lucy Robinson - Neighbours
Tracey Barlow - Coronation Street
Pine Lights whilst Stateside. Of course, Cody II was not to last, being killed by a ricocheting bullet during the infamous Ramsey Street shoot-out. Naturally, she would later reappear - in true Aussie soap style - as a ghost; luckily still played by the same actress.
Pippa Fletcher - Home and Away
Lovely Pippa, with a mantlepiece so laden with photos of her erstwhile charges it must have been stronger than the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Initially played by a sprightly, curly-haired elf of a woman, Pippa was replaced, literally overnight, by what a very good friend of mine described as "a six-foot Geordie". He wasn't far off the mark; not only had Pippa grown about a foot taller, she had broadened across the shoulders and wouldn't have looked out of place lugging girders around a Newcastle shipyard. Remarkably, the producers of Home and Away decided not to let the change pass unremarked: "oh, Pippa", quipped Simon, "you've had your hair done; it looks nice!"
Six Foot Geordie and Elf (inset)
Cheryl Stark - Neighbours