Tag Archives: Ken Barlow

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.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Jan. 15/12)


Monday’s theme seemed to be parenting, or not.  Heart-breaking for so many characters.  Three parent-child bonds struck me in particular.

Sylvia and Roy

parenthood - Sylvia talking about the child Roy as he overhears Hayley is at the end of her tether with Sylvia’s remarks about her in loco parentis skills with Hope.  Inferred, but not said, is because Hayley is really Harold, how could she be expected to cope with a baby.

Hayley’s unusual flash of temper causes Sylvia to explain her own feelings about being a parent – of Roy.  It’s not complimentary to Roy, and he overhears.  But through the non-verbal Sylvia and Roy in cafe discuss Roy's childhoodform of communication that they seem to have, they come to understand the other’s position.  They reconcile to the extent that Roy defends his mother against Becky’s wisecracks to her!  Who’da thunk it!!  And Sylvia, with the support of Roy and Hayley, indulges in cooing and cuddling baby Hope.  Oh, I think Sylvia is an absolute prize.  I’m liking her more each week.

Sean and Dylan and Marcus

Sean and Marcus discuss fatherhoodNote my arrangement of the names: Sean, Dylan, Marcus.  That’s how Marcus is feeling – tacked on at the end.  While he is expected to tend for the child as if he’s his own, he can’t cross that invisible line into feeling like a parent.  Seem familiar?  Becky and Amy?  As much as I like Sean, if he doesn’t get over himself and this “I’m the daddy” foolishness, I won’t be blaming Marcus if he heads for the door.

Leanne and Stella and lost baby

Leanne at top of stairs calling after PeterLeanne finds out she’s pregnant right when she’s dealing with her biological mother returning and wanting to play happy families.  She is lashing out unreasonably at Peter about Carla and pretty much everything.  Peter’s response is to go into a huge sulk and talk of going to Portsmouth.  Oh, that makes sense, Peter.  When Leanne realizes she’s gone too far with insulting Peter, she goes to the top of the stairs to call after him.  Trips, falls all the way to the bottom.  Stella sees Leanne at bottom of stepsOf course, Stella is the one who finds her.  In that she’s stalking Leanne, it’s not surprising.

In the hospital, Leanne and Peter are told she has miscarried.  She is devastated, Peter not so much.  Relief?  Guilt?  Disappointment?  All three?  Stella, like a bad penny, turns up.  When Peter is not in Leanne crying while Stella reappears at the hospital room doorthe room, Leanne gives way to her sorrow and sobs her heart out.  Who comes into the room but Stella.  And no, she doesn’t back out of the room.  She sits on the bed.

But just when I’m thinking “Good Lord woman, haven’t you got the sense to go Leanne crying in her mother's armsaway!”, Leanne turns toward her, clearly thinking the same thing I am, but then folds herself into her mother’s arms and sobs.  Maybe at that moment, she’d have done the same if it had been a post sitting on her bed, or Norris.  But it’s her mother.  And her mother, for the first time since Leanne was a baby, has the chance to comfort her child.  Unfortunately, it’s over the loss of Leanne’s own child.

James, Ken and the ’60s

James fights Ken to get phone awayAnd a fourth. On Wednesday James admits all to Ken, and blames him and the 1960s for it all!  It’s a version of a defence I remember using in my own childhood:  ‘I didn’t ask to be born!’  Even after he knocks Ken down and leaves him unconscious on the floor, Ken protects him.  Is that parental love or guilt or just reacting in total disbelief?  I don’t know.

I’m not alone in my picks.  Bluenose Corrie has a post on the same Monday scenes and there’s a comment on Corrie Canuck about Leanne and Stella at the hospital.

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 (June 5/11)

The Accumulator

A five race accumulator is a bet in which you pick the horses to win in five different races on a given race day.  Your winnings compound from race to race, but if all five horses do not win, neither do you.

accumulator - Peter waving Lewis' betting slip "4 flaming grand"Lewis “won” his first ever accumulator.  Not impossible but pretty hard to do, especially based on pure beginner’s luck as he so blithely told Leanne.  Such a win, whether by a neophyte or a better with a good system for picking, is a great day for the better and a bad day for the bookie.

Peter guessed Lewis must have known something he shouldn’t have known based on the winner of the fourth race.  The combined odds of Allagoggin actually winning and of somebody choosing him in an accumulator were so astronomically long that Peter was Watching the tape in the bookie shopsuspicious, not just hopeful, that there was something wrong about Lewis’ ‘luck’.  Nothing in Allagoggin’s past performance, or form, would suggest him as anything but a very long shot.  Leanne didn’t catch it right off the bat because, while she may be a quick study of peoples’ form, she doesn’t know that of horses.

the kiss on tapeSo the moment of watching the security camera tape!  Poor Deirdre.  And of course Ken would be there.  Not that he wouldn’t have found out, but being right there watching the whole tawdry thing!  As she said many times, it would have been better if there’d been sound.  But, if she remembered all of what she said, it wouldn’t have improved it much.

Manchester Tart

The Barlows confront Audrey at Gail’s farewell do for Platts and Barlows watching the dvdher and the no-show Lewis.  Gail is deranged, turning on Deirdre and all the Barlows, defending all members, real or putative, of her seriously disturbed brood.  Then let’s look at the tape.  The battery in the remote is low so Peter can’t stop it after they’ve seen Lewis’ fingers in the till, and the kiss unfolds.  Deirdre humiliated again, Audrey humiliated anew.  A pastry – a Manchester tart – that Audrey had been saving for Lewis instead was thrown by Gail in Deirdre’s face.  It was horrible.  And Claudia enjoying theLewis meeting new woman at airport bar whole show.  I’m so glad she was there.

But Lewis, gigolo with a heart of gold as he turned out to be, didn’t rip off Audrey.  He stopped the transfer from her bank account to their new joint account.  He left for Greece with only Peter’s  £4,000, but accumulated a new ‘mark’ at the airport.

Ken and Deirdre at dining room tableAnd Ken!  During his and Deirdre’s post-mortem of the whole thing, he shows that his days of contrition about Martha and sympathy about Blanche’s death are well and truly over.  “Would you mind finishing that outside?” he says as Deirdre smokes a cigarette in her house.  “Why, no I wouldn’t – as I’m passing your bags to you on your way out the door” is what I’d have liked to hear Deirdre reply.

PS – I wrote this after Thursday’s episode.  Friday saw Ken continue his ‘my way’ campaign.  As Deirdre listens to a pop radio station, he walks past and turns the dial to a classical station.  Done without a word to her.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Apr. 24/11)

The Dinner Party

Sean touching his son’s face onscreen, Cheryl after her husband battered her – moving moments.  But Ken telling pre-dinner party in Roversdinner guests Audrey and Lewis, “Tracey always says how much she misses her mother’s home cooking, her stuffed marrow in particular.”  Like Audrey, I knew:  “yum yum.”  This is going to be good!

What followed Ken’s statement was a tiny three-act play. Set into Tuesday and Wednesday’s episodes, it starred Ken and Deirdre, Audrey and Lewis.

The Barlow dining room, after their (and our) appetites had been whetted in the Rovers.  Not really Audrey’s though.  She seems to not be a fan of stuffed marrow.  (I don’t know why the writers picked on the poor squash, any type of which is delicious when stuffed and baked.  I guess it just sounds funny – yum yum, marrow!!)

dinner party in Barlow dining roomAudrey seems on edge with Deirdre.  And something’s been whetted for Deirdre; she’s sparkling with rapier-like wit and flirtatious asides to Lewis.  Audrey glowers at both her stuffed marrow and Deirdre.  Ken figures a discussion about the last election will loosen things up around the old dinner table.  Lewis, with his usual insouciance, simply says, “I didn’t vote.”  Well, Ken comes up out of his chair – “not vote!!??”  Things are not improved when Ken gives Lewis his clincher argument – “how can we complain about how the country’s run?” and Lewis simply smiles his lovely gigolo smile and says “But I don’t.”  And there you have it, that topic of conversation done.

From there on, although it doesn’t seem possible, it goes from bad to worse.  Deirdre provides conversational distraction by asking if Audrey wants ketchup, then asking if the marrow isn’t too runny.  Audrey says “I must get the recipe”.  Deirdre is dying to bring Lewis’ line of work into conversation, so says that Ken used to be a male escort.  They all nearly choke on their teeth, or marrow.  Ken accuses Deirdre of being a tad tiddly and suggests she just drink straight from the bottle, Deirdre lighting Lewis' cigarettesaying “you’re turning into your mother”.

Mercifully, the meal and after-dinner chat finally end.  The third act of this little comedy of manners occurs outside as Deirdre is having a well-earned cigarette.  Lewis, the man for all women, apparently also indulges from time to time.  He lights that cigarette like a true smoker.  Deirdre says she’s been naughty teasing about escort work, Lewis says “a very naughty girl.”  Deirdre, with a smoldering look, says, “if I had to pay for your services or his, I know who I’d choose.”  Lewis smolders right back.

Audrey, coughing, saying taxi is hereAudrey comes outside right then and is horrified to see him sucking back on the smoke.  She coughs, flaps her arms to keep the smoke away, “oh, put that out, oh oh” etc etc.  Deirdre offers to copy the marrow recipe right then, Audrey looks like a treed animal.  She makes her escape into the house.  With a wonderful come-hither look over his shoulder to Deirdre, Lewis follows her in.  Deirdre looks very pleased with herself, it’s been a good night’s work.  Presumably Ken is inside, wondering if he ought to raise the ceilings so that a library ladder in his new study is justified.