Tag Archives: Ken Barlow

Corrie Street 6 Nov 2016

Too much

eva-gemma-choose-all-we-doNot a scene this week. Too many, too much. It was extremely good, so this is both a compliment and a criticism. Edge of seat exciting, but too much to fully appreciate the separate parts.

Last week, we were left hanging with Ken. Was he alive or dead? Alive, barely, in hospital. Whew! Peter was still around. But Tracy found out he and Ken had been arguing just before the stroke. That was it – Peter, get out. Then she, Amy and Simon appear by Ken’s bedside. She tells him that they are there for him, always and ever more. Yikes! I half expected Ken to grab his pillow and smother himself.gemma-superimposed-on-hospital

But Ken and the Barlow clan were quickly overshadowed by David Platt’s car. First, Kevin welding right beside it. He had not noticed the cans of gasoline in the back. It’s a hatchback, it’s not like they too much for him peter-in-hospital-family-roomwere hidden from view. Sparks fly and Kevin says how happy he is that Anna is moving in with him. Words of Doom.

David escapes from the Bistro cellar and carries on with his plan to blow himself, Clayton and the courthouse sky-high. But his old clunker won’t start. All the Platts and others circle the car, screaming at David to stop.peter-superimposed-on-hosp-room

Lily escapes from babysitter Fiz’s back yard. She heads to the street, just of course as the car starts. David’s got his foot to the floor and the car takes off – straight toward Lily. Gary grabs her, car flips, gas doesn’t immediately explode. David crawls out, Gary and Lily are trapped underneath.

Everybody lifts the car and Lily and Gary are pulled out. Gas explodes. The Rovers is demolished yet again. Anna catches on fire.tracy-and-kids-with-ken

Meanwhile at the hospital, Ken regains consciousness but cannot speak. People go in and out of his room.ken-superimposed-on-shower

I wanted to savour each of these storylines. In the car scenes, I wondered about Ken. Then with Ken, I wondered about the crash. Stepping outside the story, I wondered if these were special episodes marking some anniversary that I didn’t know about. Because that’s what Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday felt like. A really big shew, as Ed Sullivan would say.david-superimposed-on-hosp-monitor

Usually in Coronation Street, music plays in the scene to which it belongs. The juke box in the pub or a radio on in a house. Music overlaying other scenes is an unrealism they usually do not do. But at the end of Wednesday’s episode, I liked “All We Do” continuing from the pub through the final shots. We saw the state of the central characters, and the music helped assimilate the whole.anna-surrounded-by-equipment

Corrie Street 30 Oct 2016

Grand Tour

The Grand Tour of Europe, the trip Ken Barlow has yearned to do. He’s going to do it. A long ago rite of passage for young men and women of the upper class. A past and a social stratum in which he ken-in-dining-room before Grand Tourwould have fit so well, despite his working class ideology.

Ken started the week helping Tracy in the florist shop. Helping her right out of a large order of corsages for a school prom. Tracy was furious. But Ken didn’t care. He hoped he had made the customer think about the Americanization of British culture. No, she’d just ordered her corsages from another florist, Tracy told him. No matter, Ken said. Proms and Thanksgiving dinners celebrated by people with no US connections! Taking a stand against importing traditions, that’s what matters.

Having done his bit for Old Blighty, he took to looking at travel websites. The Grand Tour excursion package, that’s what he needs. With Amy’s encouragement, he decided that he could do it. So he would. Tracy had another fit. How would she manage without him? Like other people do, he told her, by doing it yourself.

peter-turns-from-kenThe night before he leaves, Peter comes home. Although glad to see him, Ken is suspicious. What does he want, what is he running away from? Peter tells him a smooth story but Ken doesn’t buy it.

The household settles in for the night. Ken has to be at the airport in the early morning for his flight to Italy. Then Peter calls someone and goes out. When he gets back, Ken is up. He is waiting for his taxi and waiting for Peter.

ken-with-peter-watchingWhere has he been? What is he doing? What kind of trouble is he in? Just a job interview, Peter tells his father. When will you stop lying, Ken shouts. When were you ever around to know what I was doing, Peter shouts back. And he starts playing that old record again, as Ken says.

ken-clutches-railingA knock at the door. Going to open it, Ken collapses. Heart attack or stroke. No flight to Italy now, no Grand Tour.

I wondered if trip plans and especially Peter’s return meant William Roache was leaving Coronation Street for good. And I don’t know. Ken’s collapse completely shocked and surprised me. I am so glad that I did not stumble on any hints about this.

If I were to give any predictions about next week, it’s that Tracy will be as upset about the money as she is about her father, assuming Ken’s ticket is non-refundable. Peter too. I hope I’m being too harsh.peter-clutches-ken

In Ken’s honour, here are links to Grand Tour books. One is by Sister Wendy, whose short videos on art can be caught at the end of PBS programmes if you’re lucky.

Corrie Street July 31/16

Audrey, Theatre Critic

If only Audrey would moonlight as theatre critic for the Weatherfield Gazette! Friday, she gave her take on Waiting for Godot: “If I wanted to audrey-on-waiting-for-godotwatch two old men kicking off, I’d go down to the Legion on dominos night.”

Ken gave her his tickets to the play and suggested she take Freddie. She did. They left early. “We certainly weren’t going to hang around waiting for this Godot fella to turn up. If he’d had any sense, he’d have stayed at home.”

Absolute gold. I switched my allegiance in the Audrey love-interest stakes. I saw Audrey as a good fit for Ken when Nessa was chasing him. Audrey and Ken are long-time friends and get along well. But there are a lot of interests they do not share. Audrey and Freddie are new friends and seem to have a lot in common.

freddie-laughs-about-highbrow-theatreAudrey evidently missed English class a lot when she was in school and hasn’t become familiar with much in the way of literature since. She is intimidated by Ken and fears falling short of his intellectual standards.

Ken enjoys the arts and loves discussing them. But he spent many happy years with Deirdre, who prided herself on not being a brainbox and had little but scorn for Ken’s newspapers and pretensions.

I suspect Freddie knows more about the arts than he lets on. But theatre and literature are not passions of his. Like Audrey, he probably enjoys a good musical. He clearly likes her and I think he is a closer match to her beloved Alfie than Ken is.

Freddie has been matchmaking with Ken on Audrey’s behalf. He audrey-I-love-a-good-musicaltalked Ken into inviting Audrey to the play. But seeing them in the Rovers, Ken thought Audrey and Freddie were interested in each other. So he made up a story about being busy and gave Audrey the tickets, suggesting she take Freddie.

Crossed wires, and an illustration of Ken’s obtuseness about people. Freddie had told Ken his opinion of theatre – it’s a waste of time. And surely Ken knows Audrey well enough to know that Waiting for Godot, for her, would mean waiting for the curtain to come down and lights to come up.

However, Audrey and Freddie did enjoy their evening. They roared up to the theatre on his motorcycle. They annoyed audience freddie-gives-audrey-advise-about-kenmembers by eating candies during the performance. And they were asked to leave. For both of them, it seems, that defines a good night at the theatre. By not showing up, Ken and Godot did Audrey and Freddie a favour.

Corrie Street Jan. 24/16

Librettos – Stilettos

I haven’t liked Nessa since she arrived. But Thursday when she left, I nessa-in-hall-doorwayadmired, even liked, her. The signs of an exit soon to come started a while ago. Hauling Ken off to dance, drink and chat at the New Year’s Eve party that was her idea to have – at his house where Deirdre is everywhere. Breaking the mug that Deirdre had made. Worse, being clueless that such an “ugly”, obviously handmade, object with his name on it would likely have sentimental value. Having no clue about the crassness of her interruptions during Ken’s emotional leave-taking of Emily.

Ken says I like librettos and you likeThose are her sins from the present. When the sins of her past came to light, you knew it was game over. The discovery of her affair with her late brother-in-law finished her off, and her attempts to cover it up and to deflect the blame sealed it.

Ken sat her down for the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk. To illustrate their stilettos says Nessadifferences in lifestyle and outlook, he said “I like librettos and you like…” “Stilettos,” she said immediately. I saw right there what Ken has seen in her. Never in a million years would Deirdre, bless her soul, have come back with that. Neither would Audrey.

When she realized that telling him what they have in common wouldn’t change his mind, she dispatched their relationship quickly and politely. She made it easy for Ken and kept her dignity and ken laughslikability. She just said goodbye.

After leaving Ken’s, she tried once more to make peace with Cathy. Her new attitude of straightforwardness, apologies that seemed genuine and a willingness to accept that amends may not be made went some distance, I think, to Cathy maybe forgiving her. Cathy seemed to look at her in a new light.

Nessa’s final stop was Audrey. With the same directness, and a few digs, she told Audrey that she and Ken were ken-thoughtful after nessa leaves, photo of deirdre nearbyfinished and “he’s all yours”.

This Nessa I liked a lot. I am sorry to see her go. Too bad, chuck, she’d likely say, you had the chance and too late now.

Corrie Street Nov. 15/15

Ken & Aud

Ken Barlow is one of those guys who needs to be with someone. Yes, Ken Barlow and Audrey Robertshe enjoys his own company and pursues solitary, intellectual pleasures. But spending the day alone enriching oneself in the library is most enjoyable when someone is at home bemoaning your absence, and cooking your dinner. That was Deirdre. Not the same pleasure in coming home to Tracy. She’d be happy if he moved into the library permanently.

audrey-smiles-at-kenKen needs someone to tend to the real world around him and, perhaps more importantly, to be a foil for him. He needs a measure of comparison to reassure himself that he is a special man, a very special man.

So his zeroing in on Audrey so soon after Deirdre’s death isn’t surprising and isn’t out of character. It’s always nervous-making when one half of a soap couple is left alone. Who are they going to ken-speaks-of-being-alonepair him or her up with? Why can’t someone just be on their own and in a storyline once in a while. I had those thoughts when Ken’s eyes landed on Audrey. But I started thinking of Ken as he is, and it made perfect sense.

Ken has rarely, if ever, been without a woman. Often he has more than one on the go at a time. He needs them. He thinks he is pretty special, above the cut of the masses. At the same time, I think he has major insecurities. Both ways, an adoring woman at his side bolsters ken-audreyhis self-image. Especially if she, and he, believe she is not his intellectual equal.

I wonder if that is why, at the end, he decided to not run off with Martha of the canal boat. She had no doubt that she was more than his equal in intellect, social standing and spirit of adventure. He was in thrall with her, and I think that is not a place Ken is comfortable.

Audrey is perhaps the perfect match for him, next to Deirdre. She aspires toward the social graces, the artistic and intellectual. But she would never be a threat to Ken’s opinion of his superiority in those ken-watches-audrey-leavematters. She dresses beautifully and lives in a gracious, comfortable home.

Audrey settled into widowhood graciously. She is comfortable with her own company, despite her queen bee tendencies. She sought love many times after the death of her dear Alfie, but it never really happened. Maybe this time? Maybe with Ken? That would be fine, for both of them, as long as their narcissist traits mesh instead of collide.

Ken BarlowThe introduction of Nessa is unnecessary, but I can go along with it. A threat to Audrey for Ken’s affections, she is not. Perhaps she’ll give one or both of them a nudge, although Ken already seems ready to rock and roll.

Corrie Street Aug. 2/15

Stuffed Marrow

Thursday, Tracy’s ex-husband comes to apologize to Ken for his deirdre-recipe-bookbehaviour after Deirdre’s funeral. Ken is looking through Deirdre’s cookbook. He tells Robert about her stuffed marrow – an endurance test to eat, he says, but he’d give anything to taste it just once more. Robert offers to make it.

It doesn’t matter to me how many secrets Robert Preston is hiding. It Julian-Kay-as-Robert_Preston-1996Tristan-Gemmell-Robert-2015doesn’t matter if he’s a totally different man from years ago. He has redeemed the poor stuffed marrow. Like Ken, that makes me feel disloyal to the memory of Deirdre. But, in truth, she did no good service to what is a wonderful dish.

stuffed marrowStuffed marrow, or stuffed zucchini, is hollowed out squash halves filled with a thick tomato and ground beef sauce baked with cheese on top. The flavours and textures of the zucchini and sauce make a lovely combination, it’s very easy to make and it needs the huge zucchinis that you really can’t use for anything else.

I have enjoyed all the scenes over the years with Deirdre’s stuffed ken-watches-robert-cookmarrow, and the eye-rolling about it from everyone but her. But I feared that Coronation Street did an injustice to the dish. If I, who love it, felt trepidation every time it was announced that she was making it, what would someone who had never eaten it feel if it were served to them?

It is so easy to make that I never thought about someone just not making it very well. I thought it was perhaps a personal vendetta robert-with-ringing-phoneagainst the vegetable on the part of a writer or producer. Mam’s never smelled like that, Tracy said, it smelled more like a dogfood factory. Ken didn’t disagree, saying he felt disloyal to Deirdre but was actually enjoying Robert’s version.

So, although the scene maligned Deirdre and her cooking skills, the reputation of the stuffed marrow was restored. And for that, no matter what might come, I thank Robert.

I also thank Martyn Hett for a wonderful stuffed marrow cooking lesson.

Corrie Street July 26/15

Blaming

all-because-of-you ken blaming tracyKen has a lot on his mind, things to sort out with Tracy. Despite his sniping during the funeral, he hadn’t intended on confronting – blaming – her right then, right after the funeral.

He is at the wake and leaves to come home to talk Tracy into coming back with him. There, he finds her and ex-husband Robert, half-dressed, “cavorting” on the couch. He sends Robert packing and explodes.

Ken Blaming Tracy

Tracy is stunned by his vehemence and what he tells her, that her too-ashamed-of-youmother died away because she was ashamed of her and didn’t want to face friends. But Tracy recovers and flips the guilt back on Ken. Maybe she had hurt her mother, but so had he.

They both give voice to present and past resentments, eddying way beyond Deirdre’s death. Ken lets loose, with no Deirdre to make him back off. Tracy retaliates, reminding him of how, and with whom, he had hurt Deirdre. And no Deirdre to make her stop.

where-have-you-beenInto that Peter walks, too late for the funeral but in time for the acrimony. Ken greets him with joy. Tracy is hurt by Ken’s ability to turn on a dime. The ‘prodigal son’ can do no wrong. Peter blames train delays. Anyone else would come the night before, Tracy points out, not leave something so important to the last minute. Doesn’t matter, Ken smooths and soothes, you’re here now.

tracy-annoyed-as-peter-and-ken-talkHaving just had strips torn off her by Ken, Tracy thinks Peter’s lateness does matter. She is not feeling charitable toward him or what she sees as a lack of respect for both her mother and his father.

Tracy Blaming Peter, Peter Blaming Tracy

she-was-my-motherThen Peter jumps in arguing Ken’s points, telling Tracy how much she hurt her mother and so many other people, how despicable she has been, and how people loathe her. She tells him just how much grief he too has caused people, including Deirdre, over the years.

you-and-your-ex-cavortingWe see parts of those years and lives all around the living room. The photos that frame Ken as he sits at the table. Everywhere the camera goes, we see pictures of the family as its three surviving adults vent their grievances and their sorrow.

one-of-two-thingsTired of it all, Ken goes for a lie-down. Standing at the top of the stairs, he listens to Peter and Tracy debate which of them is the worst human being and parent’s child.

gonna-changeLater, he returns. Feathers are smoothed and, having exhausted their cruelty, maybe the three can rebuild something in the absence of the mother.

Emma Hynes, at Bluenose Corrie, gives an eloquent assessment of the beauty of Friday’s episode.

Corrie Street Mar. 15/15

Reading Romance

Anna Karenina is one of the best romance novels ever written. Yes, it is long. But the certainly-very-substantial Tolstoy romance novelonly explanation I can think of for the size of the tome Ken gave Audrey is that it’s a large print edition.

If the writers pursue this, I hope we see Audrey getting gripped by the story. Maybe she’ll even call in sick so she can stay home and read it. It is a story about love, loss, societal expectations and family dynamics. All these things are familiar to Audrey from her own life and, presumably, from reading other novels.

i-give-to-youFun is being poked at Ken in this. His tendency to always want to ‘improve’ people. In this instance, seeing Audrey with a romance novel in her hand brings it about.

Emily seems to be the only person aside from Ken who has heard of Anna Karenina. She too thinks that reading it is an entirely reasonable, indeed enjoyable, thing to do. And nobody the-first-chapterpays much mind to Emily or her opinions. Maria thinks the whole idea is entirely mad and a huge joke. That is no big surprise.

A classic romance

But Audrey shares Maria’s opinion and her dismissal of “the classics.” Perhaps Ken might have better introduced the book in terms comparable to ‘Tender Hearts Run Free,’ the romance Audrey was reading. The core of Anna Karenina is a love affair between two people drawn inexorably to each other, just as in all Harlequins. And then it’s a whole lot more.

With the dysfunctional mess that is Audrey’s family, I am surprised that the opening first-sentenceline of the novel did not grab her attention: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Even if she, like most people, wants to think the best of her offspring, she cannot and does not deny their problems and turmoil. That first line, you’d think, would give her a clue that there might be something of interest to her in there.

The writers may be making a joke about Ken’s pretentiousness, but to me it’s Audrey what-am-i-going-to-dowho is being made to look foolish. And that is unfair to Audrey. Had Ken handed the novel to Maria, ok, both of them would look the fool (pearls before swine). Audrey is an intelligent woman who might play the ditz but isn’t one. So I’m not sure what the point of this small plot line actually is. It couldn’t really be the cheap shot at literature and education that it looks like.

Corrie Street Aug. 24/14

Shut Up

“Shut up shut up shut up!” Deirdre screamed at Ken as he continued to badger her about oh shut upnot having told him what was up with Peter. He is right, she ought to have told him. But, in the way that arguments do, it spiraled way past the actual issue to everything in their relationship.

She felt he was making it all her fault, and he felt she was making it all his fault. Her fault for not believing in Peter’s innocence and for not doing more to help him. His fault for not being there when his son needed him and when she needed him. And for never listening to her ever. And for always turning because-i-was-scaredthings around, in his clever way, to put her in the wrong. Just shut up. And he did.

He didn’t apologize to her, or acknowledge that he was often too quick to blame her. But he switched topics and altered the tenor of his voice from an accusatory screech to a reasonable tone for discussion. So they sat and talked about the circumstances of Peter’s arrest and what they could do, separately and together, for him.

even-then-you-did-not-callIt hasn’t been easy for Deirdre this past year, coping with everything on her own. It’s not easy for Ken, finding out how much he has not been kept in the loop. It hasn’t been easy for the writers either, not knowing for a long time when, indeed if, Ken would be returning. It is difficult to mesh storyline needs with real life exigencies and, overall, the writers have done a good job with Ken’s absence and return. But in the age of social media and online access to everything in the world all the time, there is quibble room.

deirdre and ken silentEven if we accept that neither his daughter nor grandchildren have thought about phoning or skyping Granddad in Canada and if we accept that Ken is not on Facebook or Twitter, wouldn’t he want to keep up on the UK news? He’s a newspaper junkie and I am sure he knows his way around a website. It’s a bit too much of a stretch to accept that the Weatherfield Gazette does not have an online edition and that former Ace Reporter Barlow would not check it just to get a sense of home.

We heard “shut up shut up shut up” again at the end of the week. It was directed to Peter, Jim-says-listen-to-me-peterto stop his whining and get on with getting a defence. No, it wasn’t Ken, although I suspect he’d have liked to. It was from Peter’s new best friend, purveyor of prison booze, The Landlord. It was Jim McDonald, so it was, talking sense in the big house.

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.