Tag Archives: Dennis Tanner

Corrie 10000

watching corrie 10000 photo-j-stewartI haven’t watched Coronation Street since June 2018. But I watched Thursday and Friday’s episodes. Episode numbers 10000 and 10001. I figured out that I’d watched regularly since about episode 3000. So I couldn’t miss these landmark ones.

Some of the people I didn’t know. Happens when you leave a neighbourhood for any length of time. But there are also familiar faces, beloved faces.

10000 Remembers

I didn’t count the references to Corrie history in the episodes. There weren’t actually 10000. But there were a lot. Right from the first shot. Girls playing ball on the street. Just like the opening shot in episode number 1.

The premise was a bus trip to Blackpool, taken to scatter Dennis Tanner’s ashes. Dennis was a character in the original Coronation Street. He returned several years ago, left, and now – offstage – died. So talk of him, of Elsie his mother, even his sister Linda still living in Toronto decades after leaving Weatherfield.

History, long ago and more recent, was packed in. Is it too much, I asked my husband. He has watched off and on but isn’t that familiar with the backstory. No, he said, it felt natural. Especially, he said, Rita saying to Ken “you’re the last one left now.” Yes, that is what you say of the end of a generation.

rita-behind-rovers-barAt the end of the day, Rita walked through the empty Rovers Return. Remembering everyone. Annie Walker, Bet Lynch – landladies, staff and customers of the heart of the street. As she said, they’re in the fabric of the place. We overheard their voices in her head. It worked beautifully.

Goodbye, old friend

Outside the Rovers, Ken and Eccles stood. He’d done a lot of thinking during the bus trip. He had made a decision: time to move on. “Goodbye, old friend.” Talking to Dennis? To us? “Finally it’s time to go,” he said as he looked down the street.

He had clutched a brochure for a retirement home all during the trip. Talked with Rita and Audrey about what he’d wanted sixty years ago and what had happened. The travel he’d wanted to do had consisted of moving from No. 3 to No. 1 Coronation Street. Maybe finally it was time to move a bit further away.

ken-and-eccles-go-homeAccording to Radio Times, he – character and actor – won’t be leaving Weatherfield. Still, I can’t imagine what saying goodbye would have been like for Bill Roache. He is Coronation Street, there since the airing of the first episode. It’s hard to imagine the show without him.

Ken and Eccles go in their house. The scene outside their door slowly fades from colour to black and white.

Then the credits. Current names roll over the background images of credits throughout the decades. A lovely tribute. But one that sailed right over CBC’s head.

corrie-10000-cbc-credits-photo-d-stewartLook carefully at the photo, the beautifully crafted Coronation Street credits are that tiny box in the middle at the bottom of the television screen. It’s a reason to watch on line. You can see the credits full size.

Corrie Street Aug. 17/14

Hello, Goodbye

dennis-leavesIt was ironic this week that Dennis Tanner left the street and Ken Barlow returned. Dennis left first, so they didn’t have a chance to say hello and goodbye.

Jim’s scene pick is Rita coming in the Kabin to see Dennis with his hand in the till, having just thumped Norris. She tells Dennis to leave now. No more chances for him, for them.

It put-the-money-on-the-counterwas a good scene, with the bonus of seeing Norris get a punch in the nose. But, for me, it is a scene that should not have been necessary. It was setting up the departure of Dennis and that is truly a shame. I agree with Llifon at Bluenose Corrie about the under-use and misuse of a good actor and the opportunity to link 50 years of the show’s broadcast history.

possessed-me-to-do-itI did like Dennis looking at his handiwork on the windowsill of his old house, now Eileen’s. It was nice seeing him with Julie, a friend and maybe distant relative. How much more would it have completed the circle if it had been Ken there, saying goodbye old friend, rival, whatever they were to each other in the early 1960s.

My scene was Friday and Ken getting out of the taxi. I was as excited as Deirdre to see deirdre-greets-kenhim. Welcome back, Ken and Bill Roache. You have been missed.

Deirdre trying to get him in the door before neighbours had a chance to spill about Peter was brilliant. And later, in the house when she is about to tell him, Eccles provides a twist in the thickening plot of ‘what does Ken know and when will he find out the rest?’

eccles-wants-outI do hope that Eccles’ moments of stardom in plot and character continue even now that Ken is back at Number 1. She has shone lately, first as investigator in Tina’s murder and now as therapist for Simon.

Corrie Street Mar. 9/14

Because I can

The Rovers was a sad place Friday.  Islands of unhappiness, caused by people manipulating other people’s emotions just to see if they could.

dennis-and-ritaRita and Dennis, looking anywhere but at each other, filled with fears and resentments.  Gloria, the bane of Rita’s existence, is leaving.  Rita hopes that will mean her marriage will get back on track.  Dennis hopes so too, kind of.  He also is thinking of Europe and adventure with Gloria.  She asked him to go with her, asking if marking time behind the counter of a sweet shop was enough for him for the rest of his life.

Rita and Dennis are so miserable, and their companions Emily and Mary so busy trying to not intrude on that misery, that none of them notice Marcus nearby, head in hands.  marcus-head-in-handsCompared to him, their table looks like a party.  He has missed a house viewing with Maria, the house that may have been ‘the one’ for them.  He went to return Todd’s phone and one thing led to another – which was Marcus jumping on Todd and hauling him up to the bedroom.  Infidelity to Maria, with a man, and not turning up to see the house that would complete his transformation to straight man with family.

Although they don’t realize it or care at the moment, Dennis and Marcus are doing the same thing.  They are returning to what and who they are.  Both decided to live someone else’s life for awhile, for the love of someone else.

dennis-sees-life-unfoldDennis, I believe, does love Rita and what she represents – familiar memories of his youth on Coronation Street, security and friendships.   But Gloria must remind him of his mother and of his own dreams and aspirations for excitement.  Those dreams are not dead for him, nor are they for Gloria.  Rita has made it clear that they are for her.

Marcus isn’t swept away by love for Todd and knows full well that Todd does not love maria-talks-about-househim.  Marcus does love Maria.  She is part of a package he wants, fatherhood and family.  But he has been gay for much longer than he’s been straight.  Also, Marcus is an intelligent and thoughtful man.  Maria is pleasant and personable and caring but has about as much depth as a birdbath, and less ‘edge’.  Todd is everything Maria is not.  And he’s a man.

Both Marcus and Dennis have had someone more like them tantalizing and teasing them.  take-it-easy-marcusTodd and Gloria have repeatedly pointed out the dreariness of the humdrum lives chosen by their targets.  Their cattiness hit the marks.  The only block to happily-ever-after for the new proffered relationships is that both Gloria and Todd are flakes and users.

Gloria might like the thrill of taking Dennis away from Rita, but ultimately she needs someone perhaps more stable than he, and certainly someone richer.  Dennis needs the same.  And Todd?  Maybe when he grows up and gets over whatever turned him so nasty, he’d be good for Marcus.  But now, no.  Seducing Marcus is just sport for him, to see if he can do it.  Gloria and Jaquar

Too bad Gloria peeled out of town before she and Todd could high-five each other.  They both proved they could do what they set out to do.

Corrie Street Jan. 5/14

and The Dreamers

I think there are a lot of men like Dennis in the north of England, like Ritchie too. Those dennis-shows-new-look dreamerswho remember the Mersey Beat, the British Invasion of 1960s music because they were in it, or at least on its coattails. I met some of them, years ago, in Liverpool.

Guys who would haul out a guitar at the drop of a hat. Play a bit of House of the Rising Sun or Long Tall Sally. Talk about when they turned down the chance to play with The Animals before they were The Animals. Or when their band, named something like The Power maybe, almost opened for Manfred Mann. Their friend who jammed a few times with Gerry and the Pacemakers but decided to start his own band instead. The kid they knew who lived a few streets away from George Harrison, before he was “the quiet Beatle”. The nerdy kid they vaguely remember from school who went on to a big career as a promoter or sound engineer or record producer.

dennis-watches-ritchieThe bands these guys had played with, the names of which are remembered by no one aside from themselves, maybe were “this close” to making it big. Clubs in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle they remember being at, as musicians, hangers-on or just audience members. The look in their eyes when they’d talk about back-in-the-day. The memories of stages, music, touring, birds – the life.

Chances lost due to backing the wrong musical horse, thinking their group would be the next fab group to hit the airwaves. Promoters who just couldn’t get them the big dennis-calls-contactbreak, or ripped them off. Hand injuries from sports or fights that meant they couldn’t play a guitar long enough, well enough to sustain a musical life in the big league. Going back to school when gigs seemed to dry up. Staying in school so they’d have ‘something to fall back on’ on as their parents advised them. All meaning that, somehow, they’d been bypassed in the musical revolution that happened in England 50 years ago.

But it never died within them, even as they spent the next decades as lawyers, welders, teachers or unemployed drifters. And given half a chance, such as running into an old dennisfriend, they would be back on stage playing or behind the stage booking acts, wheeling and dealing. Living the glory days again, or for the first time. There are more dreamers than ever managed to play with Freddie and the Dreamers. It’s nice seeing that part of the dreams of the ’60s come to life in the eyes of Dennis Tanner.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 4/12)

There were a lot of great visuals this week.  The end of the week, of course. Sophie with sophie-on-highwaycoked-up, pity-partying Ryan on the highway as traffic whizzes past. Then Sophie splat on the pavement after pushing the waste of space out of the way of a car.

Mary at her Greek theme nightThroughout the week, great images from all of Mary’s café theme nights.   They build in complexity and drama as “Chef” becomes increasingly demented and her support staff more rebellious.

Wonderful ‘gurns’ from Steve in his maneuverings to get rid of Tracy.  I don’t know unhappy Steve with Lloydexactly what a ‘gurn’ is, but Coronation Street Blog has an open competition to submit Steve’s one of the week.  Vast riches this week.  Although, here at Lloyd’s flat, I feel quite sorry for him.  He was only trying to “do something,” as Michelle kept demanding he do.

Secret Shoppers

But I think, for me, the scene of the week in all ways must be the culmination of Dennis’ dennis sets up gloria for his free beer scam - secret shoppersscam for free beer.  I have no idea why Gloria was so easily taken in by him suddenly appearing with Lancashire Leisure under his arm purporting to be the “mystery drinker”.

I think she’s seen a charlatan or three in her life. She’d hedge her bets before doting on him in the bar, I think.  But then the story Gloria attends to Dennis and ignores real secret drinker judgewouldn’t have played out as it did.

And it was great.  She is attending to his every need and whim.  He’s getting absolutely wasted.  The real mystery drinker comes in, she ignores him.  He comes back from the bathroom, saying there’s no paper.  She says “let it drip dry like nature intended”.  You can see him mentally putting great big x marks in the NO boxes.

Gloria tells Eva that Dennis is judgeEva comes in and sees what is going on in the pub.  For, of course, yet another real Lancashire Leisure judge who can’t keep his mouth shut for five minutes helps her out.

You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to hire real judge winks at Evasecret shoppers who could actually keep their identity secret.  The two real ones might as well have had a parade complete with balloons and a brass band preceding their arrival.

But even before she realizes who he is, she makes amends to the customer who is being Eva apologizes for Gran to customerso badly treated by Gloria.  She uses the excuse that Gran has gone senile but family is family and all that.  She might have saved their bacon in the competition, I don’t know.  I do know the real judge certainly got the full “local” bar experience, with Rita coming in and seeing the state of Dennis and rightly knowing that Gloria was the cause of it.

Rita sees Gloria and state of Dennis after his secret judge scam worksIt was wonderful. No one really understanding the full extent of what was happening. But everything that they said, and everything that the others heard, all made perfect sense in each context for every person.

Dennis just before falling to floorGloria, Dennis and Rita were the stars with their timing, reactions and lines.  But the supporting cast – Eva, the mystery drinker and all the Rovers’ patrons – were perfect too.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Dec. 11/11)

Live fast, die old

I didn’t watch Coronation Street when the Tanners lived there.  But you can’t be a Corrie Elsie and Dennis Tanner 1st episode Coronation Streetfan without knowing of Elsie Tanner.  I’ve seen her and her kids Dennis and Linda in “Classic” episodes on video.  So I feel like I know the family.

Maybe that’s why I listened, enthralled, as Dennis told Rita about his mother’s life after she moved away.  I know it’s just a story, but I cried picturing Elsie and her new man living in Portugal, running a pub for British ex-pats.  I could see her, still glamorous at 81, driving fast in a red sportscar Dennis and Rita toasting Elsie in shelterwith the top down.  And I could picture the crash that took the lives of Elsie and her husband Bill on a winding mountainous road.  “She used to say the way I carried on, I’d live fast and die young.  Trust her to go one further – live fast and die flamin’ ancient,”  Dennis said.

Pat PhoenixI’m glad to know what happened to her, and I’m glad she had a good life.  That’s the funny thing about Coronation Street and other long-running serials.  You never forget the people from before, even if you never actually saw them and if they haven’t been mentioned for decades.  I know that the real Elsie, actress Pat Phoenix, was just as glorious as her character and also died, but unfortunately at a much younger age.

Dennis Tanner and Street history

The return of Philip Lowrie as Dennis Tanner has stirred up carving of name Dennis Tanner at No. 11 Coronation Streetmemories of the old Coronation Street.  It’s been wonderful.  I never knew about the carving on the window frame of Number 11.  Apparently, it has always been there and not just created for the scene on Monday when he rubs his finger over it.  We only knew then that he was a regular at the homeless shelter who came to Coronation Street with Sophie and Sian.  But Rita knew who he was the minute she saw him.

So it’s been a week of warm and cozy reminiscing – in story and reality.  How it must Ken Barlow greets Dennis Tanner in Roversfeel for Ken Barlow, and Bill Roache, to have an old friend back after 43 years.  Both of them were in the very first episode.  For other long-time actors who worked with Mr. Lowrie, it must be a thrill having him back.  And the new ones, who weren’t even born when he left the show, are having a chance to step back in Coronation Street history.

1961-1962 Actors’ Strike

Mr. Lowrie left the show during an actors’ strike that crippled Coronation Street and all British television from November 1961 to April 1962.  During the strike, the writers had Seals in Walkers' bathtub 1962 Coronation Streetto create stories using only the 14 actors who were on long-term contract.  Equity did not cover children and animal actors. So extensive use was made of them during this period.  Among the most famous of these were the seals that Dennis Tanner housed in the Walkers’ bathtub at the Rovers.  They were part of a show that he tried to stage when an ambitious but not-so-successful young impresario.  In real life, the seals were not union members so could provide a storyline without the need of Equity actors. Of course, I thought of the seals this week when Dennis mentioned his life in show business.

Sophie, Mrs. Cropper, Dennis and Sian in Roy's cafeMr. Lowrie’s contract ran out during the strike, so Dennis left the street right after the seal fiasco.  He returned a year later and stayed until 1968.  Now back again, he’s achieved a Guinness World Record for the longest gap in appearances of a character on a television series.  Welcome home, Philip and Dennis.