Tag Archives: John Stape

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

Goodbye Mr. Chips

Fiz saying I love the sinner at John's death sceneJohn Stape’s death scene Friday was very touching. Despite him being a total nutbar, I will miss him. The character of John Stape was perfectly cast with Graeme Hawley. I guess I’m hoping a bit that, on Monday, John suddenly returns from flatlining and makes his escape from hospital.

John explaining to Rosie from graph what happenedEspecially for scenes like Thursday’s when he was schooling hostage Rosie in what to say to the court to exonerate Fiz. As he has said repeatedly as justification for his acts of crime and/or stupidity, he lives to teach.

So he had a bulletin board and markers and made a graph of all activities at the times of the deaths of the Fishwick mother and son and of Charlotte. He also had photos and diagrams showing what and where to help Rosie memorize the facts. During what had John marking Rosie's written testto be a very long night for both of them, he set Rosie homework about the sequence of events and tested her recall with written and oral quizzes. Rosie with duct tape over her mouth, John in front of her using a pen as pointer going over the highpoints of the nights in question. Then removing the tape so she could repeat the sequence back to him. Rosie, in a wonderful combination of fear and ditziness, was not the ideal student John hoped for. Oh, it was just perfect. A masterpiece of writing and acting by both of them.

A clue missed

John in car booking flat viewingAlso perfect was the set up to this, his second kidnapping of Rosie. Sitting in his car, calling the real estate agent to set up a viewing of Jason’s flat, he had to come up with a name. He sees a guy walking down the street with a package of chips. “Mr. Chips,” he gave as his name. You knew that, even with her Oak Hill education, Rosie Webster would guy with container of chips walks past John's carnot think anything odd about that name. And Jason? No, he wouldn’t catch it. I thought maybe Kevin would. But it’s not really surprising that in the heat of the moment, realizing that his daughter is missing, Kevin wouldn’t take notice of such an iconic name in the world of fictional educators.

Amazon link for Goodbye Mr. ChipsI did think, at some point, as John’s situation unraveled and more and more people became party, that someone would say ‘he called himself Mr. Chips?!’ But, so far, no one has so maybe it will remain John Stape’s final and personal literary pun.

There was another scene this week that was going to be my pick. But there will be more about it later, I believe, so I won’t tell what it was.

Goodbye Davy Jones

Also this week saw the real-life death of Davy Jones. He is known to teenyboppers as “the cute Davy Jones as Ena's grandson on Coronation StreetMonkee”, to connoisseurs of Corrie as a child actor portraying Ena Sharples’ grandson, and to the American and English horse racing world as a horse owner and former amateur steeplechase jockey. His horses, children and wife will miss him sorely and so will we all.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Dec. 18/11)

Paradise Lost

Dreams seemingly attained: Paradise found.  Awakening to reality: Paradise lost.  Three scenes this week showed this, in very different ways with different levels of drama.

Tyrone loses

Tyrone at Webster houseTuesday, Tyrone going to see Kevin, telling him that it was taking too much of a toll to keep fighting him, keep hating him.  It was doing more damage to him, Tyrone, than Kevin was worth.  Let’s get along as work partners.  But I’ll never be your mate.  Wise words from Tyrone.

He’d had more than he ever imagined Tyronepossible:  a home, wife, child, his own business co-owned with his best mate.  That mate, Kevin, destroyed Tyrone’s paradise.  Now Tyrone has the guilt of his anger almost causing Kevin’s death.  You can be justified in despising someone for their actions, but you will pay just as high a price as they will.  The disappointment and rancour hurts you as much as their actions have.

Becky’s children

Then Friday, Becky seeing her dream walk away.  Max, taken back into care, while social workers sort out the mess caused by Kylie putting a For Sale sign on a child and Becky says goodbye to MaxBecky and Steve meeting her price.  Becky has had to deal with Tracey pretending to be a responsible parent of Steve’s child.  She’s had to deal with Steve believing Tracey and being worried about being a good father.  She has had to deal with Steve making it clear that Amy is his child, not Becky’s, and that Max, whatever he is to Steve, is Becky’s concern.  She’s had Tracey threatening to take Amy away, and is trying to cope with her own grief over that as well as Steve’s.  While Steve continued to push her away:  ‘like it matters to you’ type statements.

But she’s still got Max, until Steve takes a gamble on getting Child Services involved.  Becky packs up toy train setTell the truth, he thinks, then no one can blackmail anyone.  Good in theory, but David decides to do the same thing.  None of them win, especially not Max.  He’s uprooted again and sent to a foster home.  I only hope it’s the same one he was in before.  Poor little child, poor Becky.

An English teacher

The unraveling of John Stape.  Fiz finding out what he’s been doing and where Ches has been.  The rescue after John takes off from the Hoyles’ basement.  The camera work was great, showing him Fizz holding Hope in baby roomscurrying down the ginnel to his back door.  Maria screams, police arrive. John is gone.  Out the back, Maria says.

The final moments when Fiz sends Ches home to Katie and carefully locks and bolts the door.  You know then that John is in the house.  But where?  I never thought of the attic, and don’t know how he got from the back yard upstairs.  But my blood ran cold when the camera moved upward from Fiz Paradise Lost - John in attic reading Miltonsleeping in her bed to John, above in the attic, reading Milton’s Paradise Lost.

All of this happened because he wanted to teach again.  All he ever wanted to do was be an English teacher.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Oct. 9/11)

Joy of Joy

It seems wrong to say you enjoyed watching an old lady die of heart failure after finding John holding hand over Joy's mouthout that her son was dead and his body buried beneath a knicker factory.  Even more shocking for her was learning that the helpful young friend of her son was the man responsible for doing this, now sitting with his hand over her face.  But the dénouement of the Colin Fishwick story was so wonderful that all I could do was hold my breath as Joy came slowly to believe this mad story being told her.  And, yes, laugh.

John's cell ringing as Joy calls Colin You knew it had to happen, but having the whole incredible story come out between only John and Mrs. Fishwick was superb.  The look in her eyes as she heard the ringing of the cell phone she was calling – on the coffee table in front of her.  Why had John told her that phone number was her son Colin’s?  In Canada, no wait, he came back to England, yes, sometime, somewhere.

Asking John for an explanation then listening, incredulous, as his account of what happened grew more and more bizarre.  Totally disbelieving at first, then realizing that he, at least, believed what he was saying.  “You’re sick in the head, I’m in fantastic nick compared to you,” she opined, as she slowly accepted that maybe this was indeed what John pleading and Joy wanting nitrohappened.  No one could make up such a story.

Their Fresco’s Winter Warmer Meal for Two finished and forgotten, bowls and bread still on the table, Joy Fishwick listened to John explain why her son had not returned her phone calls.

The neighbour

Clifford looking through letter slot to see if Joy is homeThen a knock at the door – her neighbour returning a talking tape of a Joanna Trollope novel.  John, fearing she will call out for help, puts his hand over her mouth.  Sitting on the arm of the chair beside her, he continues his story of how he then, accidently, killed Charlotte who had assisted him in the disposal of Colin’s body.  Mrs. Fishwick’s eyes getting bigger and bigger with horror and perhaps lack of oxygen.

John debating whether to call 999 about death of JoyWhen the neighbour has left and the danger past, John removes his hand but no joy from Joy Fishwick.  She’s dead.  Again, John almost calls emergency services but doesn’t.  He sneaks out, leaving Mrs. Fishwick dead in her chair.

Eventually he remembers the evidence left on the coffee table.  Tries to sneak back in, but the neighbour sees him.  John thinks pretty well on his feet, but even he has trouble coming up with stories quickly enough.  He passes himself off as a delivery man, a “most particular” delivery man it seems.  He tidies the room before the police get there – “If she’s anything like my old gran, she’d be very fussy about visitors in an untidy house.”  Clarence looking at bread John has pulled from his pocketOut of sight of the neighbour, he stuffs the leftover bread and bowl in his pocket.  Then leaves – more deliveries to make – accidently pulling a piece of bread out when he’s reaching for his keys.  He stuffs it in his mouth saying “they’ve got us eating on the go as well.”

I can’t imagine Mr. Neighbour not telling the police about the very odd delivery man.  So we’ll have to wait and see how John manages to talk his way out of this one, if he can.  But this week, John and Joy Fishwick and her neighbour were absolute stars.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 25/11)

Airing Laundry

Usually I watch Coronation Street on the kitchen tv.  I also tape it so if I miss the evening broadcast, I watch next morning on the bedroom tv.  But the 50th anniversary episodes were watched on widescreen HD in the living room.  Pets going “Huh? We aren’t usually in this room now.”

Superb Sal

Sally looks out window talks to Kevin behind her - airing laundryMy husband watched too.  At the end of the first half of Monday’s episode, he said “I stopped watching because of Sally.  Now I might start watching again – because of Sally.”   I forget what she’d been doing several years ago that drove him crazy.  But he was riveted as she talked to Kevin about Molly’s last minutes of life.

After Sally said maybe she should have made up “a fairy tale” to tell Tyrone, husband said “she’s playing Kev like a fish.”  I thought maybe she was neck deep in denial – if I pretend this didn’t happen, then it didn’t. (Molly telling her Kev was the baby’s father.)  I’ve lived in that denial-land before, so it seemed plausible that she was too.

At the end of the second half, we saw that his take on it was right.  Sally reeled Kevin in, then smacked his head in.  “What about your son?”

Missing Persons

Norris, Emily and Mary running to rescue RitaAnother superb moment was after Nick told Norris and Emily that Rita’s plans had changed and she hadn’t gone out with Doreen.  She had gone home.  Norris, Emily and Mary racing to the Kabin, blankets flapping, to tell the police Rita was inside.  I half expected them to go plunging into the rubble of the building themselves to drag her out with their teeth.  And the look on Norris’ face – he would have if need be.

John looking on as EMT checks for Charlotte's pulseAt the other end of the human decency scale was the look on John Stape’s face when the EMT called an ambulance for what John thought was Charlotte’s body – and said “her pulse is weak.”  Damn, John just can’t catch a break in disposing of bodies!

He’d succeeded in getting back into his house, successfully dragged Charlotte out and down the lane to where it could look legitimately as if she’d died in the crash.  Then Helpful Hannah the EMT comes along, congratulates him on finding this new victim, then discovers she’s still alive!  Oh goody.  Lucky Charlotte, lucky John.

Molly

Then Thursday and Molly’s funeral.  Kevin, forced to help his mate, reading the words Kevin lying on coffin in gravethat Tyrone wrote, forgetting to change from 1st person to 3rd.  Sally unable to handle the double meaning of words like ‘I loved Molly’ coming from Kevin’s mouth.  At the grave, Tyrone putting two and two together faster than he ever has, and realizing it’s Kevin.  Hitting him, right into the grave on top of the coffin.

Later, on the Street, Connie and Pam have a little spitting match about what is best to cook for Tyrone – stew or a chicken.  Connie wins.  Then more great action by Sally.  Sally with baby, telling Tyrone about fatherhoodWith baby Jack being passed around the neighbourhood in order to give Tyrone some space, Sally takes the bull by the horns.  Baby in arms, she pounds on Tyrone’s door then gives him a good talking-to about what being a father is all about.  She leaves, baby safely with his daddy – at least for the moment.

What a spectacular two weeks!  Plotlines heating up to boiling, the explosion and crash, the rescue and aftermath.  The large events and the small touches.  Incredible special effects and the live episode in the middle.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (May 29/11)

Crazy Ladies

Fiz going off on Charlotte. She’s in Charlotte’s house telling her exactly what she thinks of her and telling her to stay away from her man! Wonderful. Nice to see Fiz back. No more mealy-mouthing, just saying what she really thinks. Poor Charlotte cowering, obviously not used to being talked to this way.Fiz in front of beads and mirror in charlotte's house

Charlotte’s house

It’s one shot that I particularly liked. Fiz, with a curtain of glass pendants, crystals, whatever they are hanging in front of a mirror. Fiz looks out of place in this house, and that shot captures it perfectly.

Charlotte's house - fiz at doorWe’ve never seen Charlotte’s house before, and it’s absolutely perfect. At first, the tight shot when Fiz is going to the door, I thought it was a small brick cottage. The flowers, the low front porch, the trellis work – I knew it was Charlotte’s.

Later, when they show a long shot of it, it’s a rowhouse, plain Row of houses, including Charlotte's housefronted, just like its neighbours. Not very interesting architecturally, kind of run-down and looking like they’re divided into apartments. But Charlotte has made the front of hers look like a little crafty type cottage. Macrame plant hangers wouldn’t be out of place.

The inside doesn’t really look like that, no Indian print cotton spreads, no brass or overabundance of ferns. Only some crochet work and the glass beads. Lovely with the light reflecting through them, and absolutely right for someone of Charlotte’s style, post-hippie in age and era. And not Fiz at all.

Charlotte cowering in smashed up living roomFiz is doing wonderfully at terrifying the real story out of Charlotte. And she’s just about to get it all when she keeps talking when she should shut up.

“I know what you’re going to say”

A character saying what they think the other person is going to say is a device often seen in American soaps to keep a deception going. It’s often very apparent and clunky, so on top of your disappointment that the truth didn’t come out, you’ve just Charlotte, off the hook about Colinwatched a really stupid bit of writing. Fiz saying “what about Colin? Where’s he gone? Charlotte:  “He’s –” Fiz: “Has he gone back to Canada?” Charlotte, realization and relief flowing over her, “Yes, he’s gone back to Canada.” Big exhale from me, oh Fiz, why did you say that! Then Charlotte tells her the “big truth” – John is still planning to use Colin’s identity to teach.

John telling Fizz it was a stupid planBack home, telling John about her visit, she does the same thing; “she told me about your little secret.” But she keeps going, telling him she knows he hasn’t quit teaching. Huge relief for John, when he’d also nearly told her the real truth. Again, the deception last-minute-save done very well.

John saying 'it was Scott'Then Friday, for me, a little aha moment. John and Charlotte moaning about the predicament they’ve got themselves in. Charlotte says, “Shakespeare got it right, didn’t he – ‘oh what a tangled web we weave.’” John barely looks up, “Walter Scott, in a book called Marmion. Not Shakespeare.” Oh, I just love him, deranged as he is.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (May 22/11)

Farce

John Stape is making progress.  He now isn’t just teaching about farce, he’s living one.  It wouldn’t feel that way for him, of course. He has to figure out how to quietly dispose of a John looking at Colin, dead - the farce beginsbody while everyone is everywhere around him.  But for us, the audience, the latter half of the week has been a lovely tour de farce.

The real Colin Fishwick has removed the need to return his identity to him. He dropped dead in John and Fiz’s house.  After he got a beating from the cuckolded husband, he came to John to complain.  Charlotte happened to be there and when she poked Fiz at party, checking her watchhim to emphasize a point about how difficult all this was for her and John, Colin keeled over.  Dead as a mackerel.  John was supposed to be at the café for Chesney’s 16th birthday party, Charlotte was supposed to be not there, and now they have to deal quickly with a corpse.

John conveniently found a carpet upstairs so they rolled up Colin to take him to Charlotte’s car.  Lots of people on the street, spilling out from the café.  Norris in the alley complaining about what people put in their garbage bins, while John and Charlotte surreptitiously load Colin in one.

Rita extends hand to greet CharlotteThey get him in the bin and to the curb by the car. Then we have a lovely laugh out loud moment.  Rita stops for a chat.  Leans across the top of the bin, laying her arm on the carpet bundle. “Hello, love, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure” she says to Charlotte.

Charlotte, with deer in the headlights look, by binShe looks more closely at the carpet.  John explains he inherited it from his grandmother and it was too big for their place.

“It’s a beauty” she says as she strokes the pile.  I was holding my breath, fearing she was going to say ‘that would look lovely in my flat, d’ye mind if I take a Rita admires the carpetlook?’  John forestalls that by saying “Charlotte’s having it.”

After a number of misadventures, they end up putting poor Colin in a huge hole in the floor of the factory construction site.  They’re not planning to bury him there, only because they have no way of doing that.  It’s just a temporary hiding spot for him.

John looks at hole in factory floorBut as of the end of the week, John hasn’t been able to retrieve him.  Charlotte, who thought this was such a splendid adventure, is having a meltdown and telling John “I should have known you were a lunatic.”

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (May 8/11)

The Salesman

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”  John Stape would Windasses arrive at the store to see salesman Johnknow without having to google it that this famous line comes from Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmiom.  That’s because he’s an English teacher who loves his job.  So much so that he’s woven himself a huge web of deceit.  And he’s enjoying it.

I’m beginning to think what he really really wants to be is an actor.  This week he had to pretend to be a furniture salesman in a store.  But the real staff and customers didn’t know that he was just pretending.  He was showing Windasses, John the salesman, customer and manager in sofa sectionsofas to the Windasses who believe him to be an employee of the store.

I don’t suppose it would have worked if he’d gone to the floor manager and said ‘look, would you mind if I pretend to work here?’  So he had to spin one story to the Windasses, one to another customer who asked him for assistance, and a third story to the manager.  A lot of balls to juggle, but then balls don’t seem to be a problem for our John.

John explains to managerSo I think I was wrong about John when I argued previously that he was simply someone who loved teaching.  I now think he just loves the thrill of deception, and that could come from teaching or paving streets.  Perhaps he is more like those people you hear about who practice medicine with no medical training or build bridges with no engineering background – just to see if they can get away with it.  Perhaps this started because of his love of teaching, but it’s moved way beyond that to deception for the sake of deceiving.  Corrie Canuck posters are trying to diagnose John’s personality disorder.  Tvor at Bluenose Corrie Blogger says “John’s turned into Ken Barlow on crack.”  Ha!

Ches listening to John's explanationChesney seems to be the only one in the Battersby-Brown-Stape-Fishwick household with his head screwed on straight about this one.  He summarized the situation very well:  “you’re conning your employers, abusing people’s trust” to John. And to Fiz, “you’re a bigger idiot than I thought you were.”

Schmeichel watches the showEven Schmeichel seems to have decided that schmuck John can fend for himself when it comes to the jilted husband and ex-con who believes Stape is Fishwick.  When the guy first came to the door, with only Chesney there, Schmeichel growled and buddy backed off.  When Mr. Ex-Con was in the house threatening John, Schmeichel just watched it all.

twins make soup tin pyramid in shopAnd in honour of Mother’s Day, I have to ask:  what is Sunita doing?  Why would she think for one second that taking those constantly wired kids to the shop was a reasonable thing to do?  I’ve come to dread seeing those children on the screen.

Coronation Street: A defence of John Stape

Ok, I know John Stape is a lying weasel who spends way too much time feeling sorry for himself and plotting John Stape close upnasty schemes.  But, at heart, he is a high school teacher who loves to teach.  He likes to read and likes to talk about literature and teaching.  He isn’t pining to write the great English novel.  He isn’t wishing he were teaching at university level or at some fancy school.  He loves teaching English to ordinary kids in ordinary schools.    He isn’t pompous in his knowledge or interests, and he isn’t too well-read.  He’s an ordinary guy with a BA in English who got a teaching degree.

There aren’t that many of them on soaps, you know – people with arts degrees, teachers, people who enjoy being well-read.  On Coronation Street, Ken is all those things.  But for years, he’s also been whining about it – he wants to do more!!!  And Deirdre – well, you’d think reading the Guardian or whatever paper it is Ken prefers is the weirdest thing on the planet.  She’s constantly moaning about Ken having his nose buried in “his” papers or watching nature programming.  Maybe she ought to put her nose in his paper once in a while.  Knowledge and awareness of the world isn’t a bad thing for you, Deirdre.

At least Fiz appreciates John’s love of teaching.  Maybe, as Deirdre recently suggested, it would wear off over the years (assuming, for the moment, that John didn’t continue doing stupid things).  But leaving out his stupid actions and their consequences, even if Fiz doesn’t share his intellectual curiousity, she respects him for having it.

No one else on the street really cares about much outside their own little world.  Yes, there are a lot of people like that in the real world but that doesn’t make it the apex of human accomplishment.

Carl Hutchins, played by Charles KeatingOn American soaps, there occasionally have been characters interested in the arts and literature.  I think of Carl Hutchins, from years ago on Another World.  Cultured, refined and erudite (and also English) – he’d have made Audrey swoon!  He also was a millionaire, lived in a mansion full of artwork, and had connections with the big-scale criminal world.  Not, by any stretch, your average English teacher.

And that’s what John Stape is.  Take away the propensity to fall for overly-developed students like Rosie Webster and an apparent lack of understanding of the common English word “no” and you’ve got a regular guy who likes to read and also enjoys transmitting his knowledge and passion for literature to others.  That’s admirable, and rare in Coronation Street and all the other serials.