Tag Archives: Jack Duckworth

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

Our Jim

With our CBC episodes doubled as of this week, and a lot going on in the Street, it’s hard Jim listening to Steve and Becky in Roversto pick just one scene.  So my pick is every scene with Jim McDonald who returns for Jack’s funeral.  Seeing Jim McDonald makes everything seem brighter.  Every time he comes back for a visit, I realize how much I miss him.   Yes, he’s a hard case, but he’s so vibrant.

Jim raises a glass to Gary and QuinnyIt was especially nice to have him in the Rovers when Roy made the sad announcement that Gary Windass had been wounded in Afghanistan and three men of his unit killed, including his friend Quinny.  Jim is a British Army veteran.  During The Troubles, he was posted in Northern Ireland so he knows combat situations.  He has lost mates and, in his case, he’s from where he was posted.  He was the enemy in his own land.  Of everybody on the Street, he knows what Gary is going through.  When he raises a glass to the soldiers, it’s heartfelt and with knowledge and memory behind it.

It’s ironic that these episodes about Gary air in Canada in the week before September 11th, the reason that the war in Afghanistan began.

I’d like to see Jim with Ciaran.  They are two different Irelands, both with a lilt but one honed with a steel edge and one softer.  Thank heavens we did see him with Owen!  When Jim and Owen Flying HorseOwen walked up to Jim at the Flying Horse I thought they were identical twins separated by some years.  Same looks, same way of carrying themselves, same way of speaking.  They are two alpha dogs after the same b… – um, bone.  I want to see more of them together and with Elizabeth, and I don’t want to.  That’s the effect Jim McDonald always has on me, and he and Owen together!  In a battle of words, Jim can take Owen hands down.  In a physical confrontation, I don’t know.  Look into Owen’s eyes when he’s annoyed.  The smart money, I fear, would be on Owen.  Jim’s a hard man, but I think Owen is merciless.

Jack’s Funeral

Tyrone giving eulogy, Jack's photo beside himJack’s funeral was lovely.  Shorter than I expected, but I’m kind of glad.  It was so emotionally draining that I was relieved when I realized it was over and I could stop crying.  The knees-up in the Rover’s was perfect.  Everyone raising a glass to Jack, some of them appearing to learn the lessons he was trying to teach them in his last days.  Claire and Ashley talking seriously about their future together, as he’d wanted.  Kevin no longer being a total jackass.  Jack, in the crematorium, did some mending that continued back at home.Kevin talking about Jack at Rovers

Even Molly started thinking – then thought a bit too much.  She somehow interpreted Jack’s message to straighten up her life and not mess up Tyrone’s as she and Kevin should raise “their” baby together.  Kevin shot her down.  Tyrone, uncharacteristically (plot-driven writing), started badgering her to have another baby.  She agreed.  I don’t know what Jack Duckworth would say, but I’d be rolling in my grave if I were in one.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 4/11)

Goodnight, Jack Duckworth

Jack and Molly talk in RoversTuesday – can’t pick one scene.  First, at Jack’s birthday do at the Rovers, he and Molly discuss the situation with Kevin being her baby’s biological father.  I had chills going up my spine as Jack told Molly about real life, about mistakes, about love and behaviour.

Both Bill Tarmey and Vicky Binns were wonderful.  He was wisdom and experience and love, she was ‘whatever’ – a little bit flip, a little bit defensive, a lot guilty.  She knew the weight of Jack says I'm so angry to Mollyimportance in what he was saying.  She knew she had to listen, but she didn’t want to.   They personified a hard-earned sense of justice and the callowness, and shallowness, of untested youth.  Having been a callow and shallow youth myself, it was hard to watch, now older and able to see the stark truth of Jack’s words.  That’s the scene, I thought.

Ken and Audrey, as Ken toasts JackThen there was another.  Jack leaving his party early.  Looking around the bar as is for the first time, or last time.  Then Ken’s raising a glass in farewell to him.  Well, I lost it then.  The tears flowed for I knew what was going to come next.  Then outside, the Street at night, from Jack listening to record playerJack’s viewpoint, as he looks at every inch of it from end to end.  Then he went home.

He sits back in his chair and listens to “When autumn leaves start to fall” on the turntable Tyrone gave him for his birthday.

Then an amazing sight.  Vera.  Looking absolutely wonderful, the lamp giving her hair a slight halo effect.  Saying to Jack, there’s a bus at 12 minutes past, so come on, shift yourself.  He says let’s have a dance.  And Vera says come with me to Jackhe and Vera slow-dancing in their living room.  The song now “Softly as I leave you.”  I watched it over and over, wanting to spend time with her and barely able to see the screen for tears.

I have never seen a scene like this in Coronation Street, where we see something in the mind’s eye of a character.  And a spirit Jack and Vera slow dancingreturning.  Both are done in American soaps often.  I’m glad this time Coronation Street did it.  Then a photo montage of Jack and Vera right in the middle of the episode.  Unusual for Corrie and just lovely.  Thank you, writers.

And then back to Jack, still in his chair, but he had caught the bus Tyrone beside Jack saying Goodnight Dadwith Vera.  Tyrone, Molly and Connie return to the house, see him in his chair.  And Connie realizes he’s dead.  She bursts into sobs, then calls an ambulance.  Molly makes herself scarce.  Tyrone, beside Jack, takes his hand and says  “Goodnight Dad.”  Indeed, goodnight Jack.  You are missed.

Meeting Jack Duckworth

In 1992 I went to Manchester to research Coronation Street for a CBC Radio Ideas documentary on British and American soaps.

Vera and Jack Duckworth in RoversAt Granada, I watched the taping of a scene on the street and interviewed writers, production people and cast members. When I was told the names of two actors I was going to meet, I was struck dumb with awe and terror – Bill Tarmey and Elizabeth Dawn aka Jack and Vera Duckworth.  Like pretty much everyone who has watched during the past 30 odd years, for me, Jack and Vera were Coronation Street.

Elizabeth Dawn

Vera DuckworthI went first into Elizabeth Dawn’s dressing room.  She and Bill had just finished their scenes for the day and she had to leave soon for a family function.  She was sitting in front of the mirror taking off her makeup when I kind of stumbled my way in the door.  “Sit down, dear, and don’t mind me.  We can talk while I do this”.  Instantly, I felt at home, felt like I was with someone I’d known a long time.  And I was in a way.

Liz Dawn was wonderful – not Vera, yet Vera.  She took off Vera’s makeup and put on her own. Then Vera’s hair was gone and she brushed out her own.  She looked Elizabeth Dawn in real lifedifferent.  We talked a long time, then she said she had to run.  She told me where Bill’s dressing room was and just to go on there when I was ready, then with a ‘ta-ra’ she was out the door.  Before I got everything picked up, she was back in laughing.  “I’ve got Vera’s coat on”.  She shucked off the familiar looking black cloth coat, grabbed another more stylish one, laughed, waved and was gone again.

Bill Tarmey

Then to meet Jack.  My nerves came back.  Hand shaking, I knocked on his door and a familiar gruff voice told me to come in.  He too was Bill Tarmey 2010removing Jack and becoming Bill.  When he finished, he leaned back in his chair and just talked.  He asked me a lot of questions, where I lived, what I did, about my family.  He told me about his family, pointing out who was who in the photographs around his dressing room.  It was nice.  He was an easy man to talk to.  So much so I would forget why I was there – to get him on tape talking about being Jack.

Amazon link for Bill Tarmey cd Incurably Romantic
Click for Amazon link

So he told me about Jack and him – how he came to be on the show, first as a short-term bad guy, then brought back as Jack when the writers created the Duckworths.  He told me about his career as an actor and primarily as a singer.  He said when the writers had Jack sing once – badly – he, Bill, found his singing gigs drop off and even bookings cancelled.  If that’s how Bill Tarmey sings, he laughed, they didn’t want him performing.

He wasn’t likely telling me anything he hadn’t told hundreds of interviewers before, but he made it seem personal.  Just him and me talking about stuff.  It wasn’t slick, like a performance piece, just good conversation.  He talked straightforwardly and was engaged in the discussion, talking and listening.

He reminded me of my father, as Jack Duckworth always has.  “Rough, tough and hard to Bill Tarmey, outside Rovers, upon retirementbluff” as my dad would say about himself.  That’s what Jack is like, with a lovely soft heart.  That too is what Bill Tarmey is like.  And my dad.  I can think of no higher compliment to any one of them than being compared to each other.  Bill, if you are reading this, you and Jack will be greatly missed.  I hope you have a wonderful retirement.  Cheers!

Bill, and Jack, on Amazon

Amazon link for Bill Tarmey book on Jack DuckworthSee my Corrie Scene Sept. 4/11 for Bill’s final episode. Click the image to left for an Amazon link to Bill Tarmey’s book on being Jack and the ‘Incurably Romantic’ image above for link to his music.

 

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 28/11)

Jacks’ Bonfire Night

A lot of story this week, but nothing leaping out at me until Friday. It was November 5thKevin on Street with fireworks behind him, Bonfire Night. Fireworks had started, literally on the street and figuratively for Baby Jack Dobbs.

The last thing we see is Kevin, back turned to the explosions over the street and soon to happen in the Dobbs-Duckworth house. He was heading back to the Rovers after seeing Molly. He had confronted her about the baby’s paternity. It was that, and especially the accidental fallout from it, that caught my attention.

Kevin had a DNA test done. It showed he is the father of baby Jack. After acting like a complete jerk at the Rovers with Sally and Gail and, indeed, with and about Kevin and Molly after she saw dna resultsTyrone, he sneaks around to Molly’s back door to confront her.

After ascertaining that no one else is there, as far as she knows, they have it out. She had not agreed to the DNA test on the baby, she just wanted to believe he is Tyrone’s. Kevin wanted to know, but doesn’t know what to do with the knowledge he now has. Neither of them knows that the elder Jack is sitting on the stairs listening.

Jack on stairs listening to Kevin and MollyJust great! I had hoped that Jack would go to his grave believing that all was well with the family of his son of the heart. But at the same time, I knew that the best chance for this mess to get sorted out was if Jack knew. Neither Molly nor Kevin can be trusted to do the decent thing. And poor Tyrone is just living in his happy little world. Now Jack must share that happy world and try to forget what he knows, or blast it to Kingdom Come.

Tyrone holding baby JackEven if it doesn’t really matter if any of the adults know, the baby needs to know his biological parentage for reasons of medical history if nothing else. I had just hoped that Jack Duckworth would not have to be the one to break Tyrone’s heart. Also to have his own heart broken by knowing what Molly, who he loves as his own, had done.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 7/11)

bring me flowers

flowers dropped to streetThree scenes Tuesday.  First, Chesney taking flowers to Katie, and her dad answering the door.  Flowers go to the cobbles and Chesney goes to the wall, pinned by Owen who tells him what will happen to him if he messes his “baby girl” about.  His daughters might think Owen is a Owen pins Ches against the wall“rubbish dad” but it’s clear, at least if you’re not his daughter, that he truly cares for them and will protect them no matter what.  Chesney got the message.  Didn’t stop him, but he knows to be careful around “psycho” Dad.

Love of Neil

Julie and Brian sing together in RoversLater, Brian and Julie in the Rovers discovering they are a match made in heaven.  They share a love for the music of Neil Diamond.  Discussion of the lyrics of his deeper songs leads to a little duet.  They beautifully sing the last couple lines of “You don’t bring me flowers anymore”.  John is horrified.

He had earlier spun an incredible story to former boss Brian about why Owen called him John.  Owen had come to John and Fizz’s to see if they knew what Chesney and Katie were up to in their house.  Brian, there to pass on a message that Mrs. Fishwick was looking for her son, was understandably confused.

So John made up a story about Mr. Big and a mob-style murder which he, “Colin”, had witnessed.  So, in DYI-style witness protection, he is living as “John” on the street and is avoiding contact with his “real” family and “real” background.  Brian buys it, in fact seems to quite like being part of such intrigue and Brian helps Julie pick up spilled shopping bagshappily goes on his way to “take control” and “reinvent” his own life.

He stops to help Julie with her spilled shopping, spies her Neil Diamond cd, and it’s kismet. John and Fiz spent the rest of the week trying to break them up, Neil Diamond cd amidst Julie's shoppingeven involving Brian’s wife Margaret and the imagery of Glenn Close as a “bunny boiler” in Fatal Attraction to stop this dangerous (for John) liaison.  I hope they don’t succeed.  I want to see more of Brian and Julie, they are just delightful.

Love of Jack

Then immediately after, at Molly and Tyrone’s, she is still absorbing the news that Jack is dying. Tyrone had to explain why he and Jack were at a lap dancing club. He inadvertently said the words “in the little time he…” then had to finish the sentence “has left.”  Shock and Molly embraces Jacksorrow show on her face, as does the love she has for Jack.  He comes in the room and she leaps to him, arms around his neck.  He says this is why he didn’t want anyone to know.  But he’s pleased and comforted by her embrace.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (July 3/11)

Family Trees

Two scenes this week – couldn’t choose between them.  Very different stories, but both about expanding the family tree.

We’ve got a new shoot on the Dobbs lineage, but daddy Tyrone doesn’t yet know that it was likely a graft.

Molly about to give birth, Kevin and Sally thereMolly hanging on, wanting Tyrone to be there before she went to the hospital and before she gave birth.  The people she most didn’t want there – Kevin and Sally – were.  Sally was trying to keep her from having the baby on the spot, in the living room.  Kevin was looking like he’d rather be anywhere than where he was.  Molly was throwing dagger looks at him and snarky comments.  Sally, for once, was just trying to help.

I was thinking who is this situation worse for – Molly or Sally?  In the moment, it’s gotta be Molly.  Having probably Kevin’s baby, while Kevin’s wife is acting as her midwife and Kevin himself is there in the room with you and her.

Jack and Connie with baby JackBut when the truth comes out, about Kevin and Molly’s affair, what is that going to be like for Sally?  Realizing she helped deliver her husband’s child.  I think that’s much worse, realizing you’ve been betrayed and that you, willingly and unwittingly, aided and comforted your betrayer.

And the coda to this scene, the lovely moment that brought tears to my eyes was Jack Duckworth holding the baby, and hearing that he’d be named Jack Dobbs.  The look on Jack’s face.  And that lucky baby:  he has the best granddad and dad in the world, even if both of them are social kin rather than biological.

Barlow Oak Tree

Peter Barlow meeting new family in RoversThe other scene involving lineage:  the ever-expanding branches of the Ken Barlow “oak tree” as Peter called his dad.  Seeing Ken’s son Lawrence and grandson James together with Ken was wonderful.  In the story it was great, but even greater knowing that both characters are played by Bill Roache’s real life sons.  That too made my eyes misty.  A show where an original character, first portrayed by a young man of 21 or something, now can show three generations with that actor’s own grown-up family.  I think that’s just fabulous for the Roache family and the Coronation Street family, both production and viewer.

Ken and father at table, 1st ep.In terms of the storyline, they’re also harking back to the origins of the Street – its characterizations and literary references.  We met Ken in conflict with his father over beliefs and values.  Their clash was over social class, and yes, Susan, mother of Lawrence was involved.  Fifty years later, Ken is trying to arbitrate between his son and grandson in their clash in values and ways of life.  Their clash is over sexual orientation.  The scene of them sitting Ken, son and grandson at tablearound Lawrence’s kitchen table arguing about change and social norms is a kind of upscale version of the “kitchen sink realism” of Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, a dramatic form and era that influenced Coronation Street.  And I could almost hear Neil Young’s anthem from the next era, “Old man, look at my life.  I’m a lot like you were.”

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 14/10)

Vera

The 2nd anniversary of Vera’s death. Tyrone is sad. But that morning, he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him. All he knows is Molly is being very difficult to live with. At the Rovers, Jack gives him advice about how to handle women. Betty tells Jack that in her almost 90 years, she’d never heard “such a load of codswallop”.

Betty gives Jack a free pint and a kiss on the headThen, in a week of great scenes, comes the one. It’s a two-parter, maybe a minute. First part: Jack sits alone in a booth, finishing his pint. He’s pulled something out of a paper napkin and is holding it. Betty brings another pint over to him. “I didn’t order that,” he says. Betty puts it in front of him, kisses the top of his head and walks back to the bar.

Jack looks at Vera's wedding ringSecond part: Jack looks at the object in his hand. It’s Vera’s wedding ring. He looks down at it and up at the heavens. “My little swamp duck.” Oh my, I could hardly clip the scene from CBC’s online episode for tears blurring my eyes. Whatever will we do when Jack and Betty leave the street? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then, at the end of the episode, Molly begins the “we have to talk” speech with Tyrone. It continued Tuesday. She was leaving him, didn’t love him anymore etc. etc. Why, how can you, etc. etc., poor Tyrone asked. Lines from several hurtin’ songs were used by both of them. “You’re better off without me” and “any girl would be lucky to have you” came from Molly.

Molly telling Tyrone she is leaving himIt was like watching a train wreck. Well, more like being in the train wreck if you’ve ever had a serious relationship end, whether you were the ‘dumpee’ or ‘dumper’. Even though I’ve known what Molly’s been doing the past few months, it still blindsided me. Poor, poor Tyrone.

Next scene, Tyrone twigged in about as long as it takes in these situations: “Who is it?” “There must be someone else.” He’s absolutely right in guessing this, even just from his vantage point as a participant rather than anTyrone in tears, can't believe it observer as we are. There’s always someone else. Speaking from a long history as both dumper and dumpee, there’s always a third person somewhere in the mix. Of course, the dumper always says there’s no one else, “it’s just me”. And, technically, right now Molly is not lying about this. She and Kevin have ended it so, in this tiny frame of time, she is leaving Tyrone because it’s just about her.

Of course, as it always does (and must for soaps to continue with storylines), it will all come out. And if the breakup of Molly and Tyrone was bad, I think the breakup of Kevin and Tyrone will be much, much worse.

Daran Little writing

Both Monday and Tuesday were Daran Little episodes! So happy. I didn’t know there were any more to come of the group of episodes he’d penned after a brief return last year.

Jack telling Tyrone "Vera didn't us to be me and Vera"The loveliest touch of historical analysis he gave us was Tyrone and Molly discussing their relationship in terms of Jack and Vera’s. Like all of us, Tyrone had hoped that he and Molly would be the next Jack and Vera. Horrors, Molly said, that’s exactly what I don’t want to be! Tyrone sees happily married for over fifty years; Molly sees decades of constant rowing and Jack skulking off to get away from her. Both views are correct.

But Molly is using revisionist history to justify what she’s doing, and she must know it. She got to know Jack and Vera well enough to see behind the surface complaining and skulking. She saw Jack when Vera died. So she knows better. But to give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s young and probably still believes in the fairy tales where the thrill of romance remains young and alive forever just as you do yourself. Where settling into a routine of going about your business seems a fate worse than death. On the other hand, she knows better. Disparaging the 50 years of Jack and Vera is a way to justify, to herself at least, what she is doing.

The train wreck spreads the rest of the week. Kev is cast in the role of comforter to Tyrone. And in another beautifully wrought scene, Jack gives his take on the “being Jack and Vera” issue. He says to Tyrone, “Vera didn’t want us to be like me and Vera.” Molly says to Dev, “don’t say anything nice to me”. I say to the screen, “no danger of that, dearie!” Auntie Pam is the only one who seems to share my feelings. In a plea for sympathy, Molly whines, “ Everyone’s already looking at me like I’ve just stamped on a kitten.” Pam’s response?  “Oh, happens you just have.” Thank you, Auntie Pam.