Sunday, 26 February 2017

Coronation Street cast as you've never seen them before!

This wonderful poster of the Coronation Street cas as you've never seen them before has been created by talented artist Jo Blakeley.

Some of Jo's artwork is available on Redbubble - on t-shirts/cups and other paraphenalia. 
Check them out here


Plus, Jo draws bespoke characters to order as gifts.

Find out more about her work at her website, follow her on twitter and facebook.

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Coronation Street writer pens new Dusty Springfield musical


Jonathan Harvey, one of my favourite Coronation Street current writers, has a new project on the go. He's writing DUSTY, the first authorised new musical charting the life of Dusty Springfield.

Jonathan Harvey has interviewed key people from Dusty's life including Pat Rhodes, Dusty's lifelong personal assistant, and friend and record company executive Tris Penna.

From @JoJeHarvey on twitter


Jonathan wrote his first play in 1987, and has since written over 15 more, including Babies, Boom Bang-A-Bang and Beautiful Thing, which was later made into an acclaimed film. He has been the recipient of the Evening Standard, George Devine and John Whiting Awards, and his work has been both Bafta- and Olivier-nominated.

Jonathan's extensive television writing includes Coronation Street, on which he has worked since 2004, Beautiful People and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. He has also written for shows as diverse as Rev, Shameless, At Home With The Braithwaites, The Catherine Tate Show andTracey Ullman's Show. He has also published five novels and been hailed as 'the new theatrical voice of his generation'.

DUSTY is set to premiere in the UK in 2018. Details of dates, venue and casting are still to be announced, reports Broadway World.

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Coronation Street Blog Interview: Rita May

 

Actress Rita May, who formerly walked Weatherfield’s famous streets as Connie Rathbone, has decided that after a long and successful career on screen, making the jump to writing is an ideal next step. Her first comedy novel, Barry and Bev, follows a community living in the north of England.

Kenthorpe Working Men’s Club in the north of
England is in dire financial difficulties. To try and help the situation, the Committee come up with emergency measures, including a top-class act booked for Saturday night concerts.

As word spreads, the number of punters sharply increases. This causes problems for some of the members’ wives, as they can’t get into the club early enough to get a seat. The club’s ‘Men Only’ room is frequented by a few of the older club members, but Rule No. 57, which bars women from the room, still stands from when the club was built in 1932.  The women decide to challenge this as seats are always available in the ‘Men Only’ room, which leads to a standoff...


I caught up with Rita this afternoon for a lovely chat about her career and how her new novel came about.



First of all can you tell me a bit more about how you started off as an actor and a performer?

I started out as a singer in the clubs in 1960. I toured round the clubs as “The Glamorous Rita May”. In 1976 Ken Loach was looking to cast people in a television play – he wanted ordinary, real people, not professional actors. He wanted me to be in it but I didn’t want to at first, I didn’t want to act. Ken convinced me to do it and I was in his two episode play “The Price of Coal” playing the lead. I then played the lead in another play for Ken set in Sheffield, The Game Keeper.

Barry and Bev is your first novel. Can you tell me how the idea came about and what it was like to go through the writing process?

Well I had done some writing before but I’ve found myself having my first novel published at the age of nearly 75! It took me two years to write it as I was working in television at the same time. It’s really based on my own experiences of working in the clubs and I think it’s a shame the clubs aren’t there in the same way they were. Kids don’t go to them now, they used to be the hub of the village or the town and it’s where people started out working. The idea for the book came from a true story. I’ve found it helpful to write the book, I enjoyed the process and although I’m still busy working as an actress, it’s been enjoyable to focus on creating the story and the characters.

 

What was it like to go from acting to professional writer? Had you written other things before Barry and Bev?

I have been writing as long as I've been acting. One day while I was working for him, Ken Loach gave me a lift home and he asked me what I was working on and I mentioned I had been doing some writing. He asked to see it but I didn’t want to show him as I thought he was just being polite.

Anyway I did send it to him, he liked it and it ended up as my first play, One Hundred and Eighty, which was a Play for Today for the BBC. I then wrote another one, England’s Greens and Peasant Land. I was still singing while I was starting to act and write the plays but then I thought I’d just do the acting instead. I also wrote a play for the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and that’s how I met my second husband.

How important was it for you to base your novel in the North of England?

Very important, I couldn’t write about middle class folk in London or the aristocracy. You have to write about what you know. I’m working class and I know these people and the situations they find themselves in.

I want to ask you a bit about your involvement with Coronation Street. I think you’ve had five different parts in the show. You worked with Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander in an episode back in 1981. What are your memories of working with those two actors?

Oh they were both brilliant. They were such a great double act and really knew what they were doing. I’ve had five different parts in Coronation Street over the years. I remember that episode working with Bernard and Jean. I played Freda, the barmaid at the Legion and Hilda got it into her head that I was having and affair with her Stan! She always thought other women were chasing him! Great fun. I think Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey (Vera and Jack) came in and took over from the Ogdens, they played the same kind of situations.

Your biggest role was as Connie Rathbone in 2009. What was it like to work with the late great Bill Tarmey?

Bill was a lovely, lovely man and we got on really well. We used to talk about how hard it was to keep learning the lines as you got older. He would be sitting in the Rovers with his lines written on the beer mats! He was a great actor, very good in Coronation Street but he was down to earth, working class and very easy to work with. He gave me all his CDs and I still play them in the car.

 

Sadly after Bill left the show your character was also written out. Would you have liked to have stayed on in the role?

Yes I would. At the time they said Connie would be kept on but it didn’t work out. I enjoyed being in Coronation Street and think the character worked. I do think they need more older characters in the show now as there’s only really Rita and Ken. Older people aren’t represented any more and when you think of the days when you had Ena, Martha and Minnie in the pub gossiping and causing trouble, it was great. I was thinking of writing to Kieran Roberts (Executive Producer) to suggest they brought Connie back as Tyrone is still in it. I know Kieran as he started out working as a producer on Children’s Ward. They definitely need more older people.

Do you still watch the show?

I don’t really have time to watch any of the soaps nowadays as they are on so often I’m too busy working to keep up with them.

I grew up watching Children’s Ward. I think you appeared in every single episode – what are your memories of that programme?

Oh it was smashing. I was the only actor to be in it from when it started until it ended. I did 12 years. There were so many young actors in it who have done very well. Lots of them went on to do Coronation Street, Jane Danson, who’s excellent in the Street, she started off in Children’s Ward. We still had time to rehearse when we did that series. They don’t have time for that in Coronation Street now which is a shame. When I first did Coronation Street they still had a rehearsal room and they marked out all the sets and we went through every scene as a cast. 

 

You have also appeared in the series Trollied. Did you enjoy making that?

Oh yes, it’s hard work but I love going down to Bristol where it’s filmed. It’s a great series to be a part of and they are a great team to work with. They treat me very well and although it’s harder to learn the lines now I still enjoy doing it all.

Finally, why should people read Barry and Bev?

Why should they read it! People should read it because it’s funny and it’ll make you laugh. There is some serious stuff in it too that’ll make you think. The main character is sort based on me a little bit. I’m really pleased with how it’s ended up and I wouldn’t have had it published if I wasn’t happy with it. I hope you enjoy it.

What’s next for you?

I’m going off to Halifax later today to do some work on a new drama series for Channel 4 called “The ABC”. It’s a six part series set in a Yorkshire Comprehensive School (starring Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls and Liz White). I’m also booked to go back to Bristol to do another series of Trollied, so that’ll be another nine weeks down there. I’m looking forward to doing more of that. 

Thank you to Rita for taking the time to talk to me about her life and work, it was a pleasure. You can enter our Coronation Street Blog competition to win a copy of Rita's new novel here 

And you can find out more about Barry and Bev here

You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82 



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Nigel Havers stars in new series of Benidorm this week

 
Nigel Havers, who played cad Lewis Archer in Coronation Street, will be guest starring in Benidorm this week. Yes, Benidorm returns to ITV on Wednesday 1 March at 9pm - and I couldn't be happier, I love the show!

The new holiday season kicks off at the Solana resort with the return of two popular characters - Liam and Sam.   Could Joyce Temple Savage, played by ex-Corrie actress Sherrie Hewson, finally find romance this series with Monty?

As well as Nigel Havers, guest stars in the new series include John Challis, Jason Manford, Uri Geller, ex-Corrie actress Amanda Barrie (Alma Baldwin), George Shelley, Madness and Dame Joan Collins.


Ex-Corrie actress Denise Welch (Natalie Horrocks) has also appeared in Benidorm alongside her ex-husband Tim Healey who played Sean Tully's dad in Corrie.
And of course, the wonderful Amanda Barrie has made a guest appearance in Benidorm too as a wonderfully dotty fortune teller.


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Corrie Weekly Awards for Feb. 20 - 24

BombMichelle Award: She lays a bombshell on Steve about another baby but her life ended up looking like the after effects of a very large bomb when she found out the truth.

A Rock and a Very Hard Place Indeed: Michelle wants to go see the new baby, Steve wants to keep his missus happy but it's his baby! He keeps saying it's Nick and Leanne's but it's cutting him up inside. Liz knows it, too.

Soap Cliche award: When was the last time anyone has given birth in a hospital?

Musical Ambiance: Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" with Steve and Michelle in the back room after returning from the beach, supporting each other through a tough day. Also while Brian and Cathy were sharing a drink and talking about Roy.

Confession is Good for the Soul: Awww poor lickle Liam called the police to confess to killing Darryl!

Get your finger out award: David keeps going on about Max not being a Platt. He's been meaning to adopt that lad for years. What's he waiting for?

Lines of the week:
Leanne "Help!" Toyah "What are you doing?" Leanne "I'm singing Beatles' tunes, what do you think I'm doing?"
Brian "Roy makes it perfectly clear he thinks I'm a freeloader, someone that takes without giving" (as he helps himself to a big handful of Tim's pork scratchings without asking)
Zeedan "D'you have cards that say Sorry I Opened My Big Mouth?" Rita "I'd be a millionaire if I did, love"
Toyah about the baby "Isn't he tiny?" (no, not really!)
Beth about her mother "She reckons another week and she'll be fit enough to go shoplifting again"
Eva "I'm going to prison. I don't want to look too glam" (you couldn't look not glam, babes!)
Yasmeen "You could start a fire with a spark that big"
Jenny "I thought we could take a few seconds to run a new project by you. I call it Blackmail" (Go, Jenny!)
Gail "Can't put this genii back in the bottle"
Michelle to Steve "I always knew you were an idiot, but you were my idiot"
Steve "We can survive this" Michelle "No. You killed us"



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Coronation Street spoiler pics: Michelle turns to Robert


ITV have released more details of the aftermath of the baby bombshell on Coronation Street.

Michelle is going to turn to admirer Robert in this coming week’s Coronation Street after she discovered on Friday night that hubby Steve is the secret father of Leanne’s baby.

Michelle was devastated on Friday night to Steve blurted out to a packed Bistro that he and Leanne had a one night stand which resulted in baby Oliver being born.


Heartbroken Michelle punched Leanne in the face before collapsing in tears in the ginnel behind the Rovers.

But hell hath no fury like Michelle Connor scorned and this week viewers will see her demand a divorce from Steve before barricading herself in the Rovers, locking Steve and Liz out on the cobbles.

And as these pictures show Robert Preston is the person Michelle turns to in her hour of need when he turns up at Maria’s flat where Michelle is staying.

The pair bond over shots of tequila and she is soon smiling again. Viewers already know that Robert harbours feelings for Michelle and she also tried to kiss him after Ruairi’s death. Is this the start of something, and has Steve lost her for good?

Simon Gregson said: ‘If Steve knew she was turning to Robert for comfort he would be devastated, he really hopes he can win her back.”

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Coronation Street double episode review, Friday 24 February 2017

Secrets abounded in last night’s Corrie, but developments in respect of one in particular gripped this stunned viewer. As Jenny blackmailed Richard Drake to reinstate his mastectomy bra order with a compromising photo, Maria struggled with little Liam’s prison visit request to live with Aidan and Eva, and Brian hid his affection for Cathy from Roy, there was a simmering pot of tension unfolding around baby Oliver.

Having agreed to put Nick’s name on the birth certificate, Leanne’s silent discomfort at the lie she has committed to living, together with Liz’s disquiet and Steve’s uneasiness with the entire situation, all culminated to form a growing intensity as the first episode unfolded. Nick’s enthusiasm even seemed fraught with panic at the threat of it all crashing down, and Michelle’s desire for another baby resulted in added strain for Steve.

Gail’s impromptu family party at the Bistro coincided with a visit by Michelle and Steve, and what unfolded, and how, was sheer brilliance. As they looked on, Michelle’s clear attempt to be happy for Leanne and Nick contrasted with Steve’s beleaguered demeanour, and things only got worse as his attempts to avoid his son finally failed with an encounter which could not evade him. First, he was called on to take a family photo, and next, was handed the baby by David who jumped to recover a tray of smashed glasses. I was absolutely gripped as he held the child in his arms and, as if in a trance, declared out loud for all to hear that this was his son.

Of course, this happened at 7.59pm and, once I released my other half from a serious grip, took to Twitter where people were frantic. Could this be the big reveal? Well we hadn’t read anything about it. Maybe we’d tune in at 8.30pm after a seemingly interminable interlude, and Steve’s confusion would be put down to his grief for Ruairi? This would not have been my preference, but after all, we’d seen plenty of this type of thing in the past, and been frustrated by it. Or maybe, just maybe, we were about to see the truth revealed in a timely fashion having not known to expect it. As shock registered and the possibilities were thrashed out, both online and in my sitting room, I watched Mastermind, but didn’t, and all of a sudden we were back for part two. I sat in disbelief to discover that yes, this was it, Steve had confessed and was making no effort to cover it up; Michelle had found out that Oliver was Steve’s baby, Leanne didn’t deny it, nor did Nick.

No spoilers. No dragging things out. No unrealistic recovery at 8.31pm. This was it, and it was fantastic. We were then treated to a highly charged and brilliant scene between Michelle and Leanne in the back of the Bistro which resulted in a bloody nose for the new Mum. There is naturally nothing Steve can say to Michelle to fix things as she storms over to the Rovers where she reveals all in the bar. Jane Danson, Simon Gregson, Kym Marsh and Ben Price put in some of their best performances as it all unfolded, and I can genuinely say I was glued to the screen throughout.

I do, however, have one gripe, and you’ve heard it before. Performances and dialogue of this quality are enough to draw us in, to make us feel empathy and sympathy. The portrayals were powerful, affecting and natural. It was authentic and reflective of the realism that makes Coronation Street what it is, and most definitely didn’t need Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) concluding the second episode. For me, this actually did a disservice to a truly fantastic pair of episodes. Nor is the irony of the song title lost on me, as this development is most definitely not in keeping with the spirit of the street. I don’t know if we’ll see the end of incidental music on Corrie anytime soon, but for me, you won’t find a finer example of why it needs to go. 

Other highlights from the episode included Jenny Bradley smugly celebrating her double order, lovely signs of a developing friendship between Yasmeen and Rita, Shayne Ward who for me, continues to be compelling as Aidan, and Charlie Wrenshall who is doing a great job as Liam Jr.

We saw Corrie at its best on Friday night, and the lack of any spoilers, together with the quality delivered up, ensured it got the reaction it well deserved. Now, if we could just lose the music…

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes
Facebook: @EmmaHynesWrites
Instagram: emmalouhynes

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Corrie weekly update: Baby Bombshell Explodes

Corrie weekly updates from 1995
All the wit and warmth of Weatherfield
None of the waffle

Available from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com

 

This week’s Coronation Street continued its powerful telling of Steve and Michelle’s baby story and it would be wrong to start anywhere other than that in this week’s update.  On a quiet beach, Steve and Michelle scatter baby Ruari’s ashes and there wasn’t a dry eye on our sofa, it was heartbreaking. Steve draws a heart in the sand with their three initials – S, M and R.  Then, when Michelle finds out that Leanne’s given birth to her son (more on that in the next para!) she decides to go and see the baby. Michelle’s resolve fails her when she’s nursing Leanne’s newborn in her arms and my heart broke all over again. Steve decides against going to see the baby and stays away from Leanne and his son. 

But when Steve and Michelle’s quiet night out in the bistro coincides with the Platt’s party to wet the baby’s head, that’s when Steve’s baby bombshell is dropped. There’s a commotion at the bistro bar and glasses are smashed so David hands the baby to the person nearest to him as he dashes to help at the bar. And the person nearest to David is … you guessed it, Steve.  It’s too much for Steve to bear, looking into the eyes of his new baby son and he stuns everyone when he reveals that Oliver is his. Well, you can imagine.
Michelle runs to the kitchen to throw up in the sink as the shock hits her hard. Leanne goes to try to comfort her but Michelle wallops her around the chops and gives her a bloody nose. In this kitchen scene between Leanne and Michelle, I had to choke back the tears once more as Michelle struggled to cope with shock and betrayal of the very worst kind. And when she finds out later that even Liz knew, well, it sends Michelle to a very dark place. Robert takes it upon himself to be the hero of the hour and goes looking for Michelle, he hesitates at the door of the Rovers and when he finds it locked he takes out his phone to ring her. “Leave her alone!” I shouted at the telly – and you can always tell when I’m enjoying my Corrie ‘cos I shout at the telly a lot. Robert puts his phone away, but his predatory manner is unsettling, to say the least.

And now, let’s backtrack a little to Leanne giving birth. Little Liam lets Darryl the rat escape and it chews through cables at Victoria Court causing the lifts to break down. Well, the lift conks out with Leanne and Toyah inside, having a big argument over Peter (who else?).  Leanne’s waters break and she goes into labour. Neither of their phones will work and they yell for help. Robert calls an ambulance. But he doesn’t think to call a lift engineer and Robert can’t find a crow bar to open the lift. Where’s Richard Hillman when you need him? Then, bizarrely, Johnny turns up. As does, Eva, Sarah, Bethany, Nick and Rana. When the lift doors eventually swing open as the two ambulance men arrive, Leanne’s given birth to a baby boy, she and Toyah have made up, and half the street is gawping into the lift at Leanne.

Elsewhere this week, there was more uncomfortable viewing as Nathan works his way into Bethany’s trust and affections. He steals her phone then gives her a new one. Sarah’s not happy about any of this but is powerless to stop it, so far.

In the Kabin, there’s a bit of flirting going on in front of the Lemon Sherberts between Brian and Cathy. She gives him some tips on living with Roy and tells him the right way to cook a shepherd’s pie, just the way Roy likes it.  It’s clear there’s a spark between the two of them but Brian keeps their friendship a secret from Roy, for now.
Over at the factory, Jenny flaming Bradley decides on a spot of blackmail after Richard Drake turns down the chance to buy Underworld’s new line in mastectomy bras. When Jenny spots Richard’s hand on his secretary’s bum in a photograph, she tells him if he doesn’t place the order with the factory, she’ll show the photo to his wife. Not only does Richard Drake place the order, Jenny makes him double it too. Aidan’s not best pleased when he finds out that Jenny’s now working in the office instead of on the factory floor but even he has to secretly admire her guile at getting work for the girls.

And finally, Liam and Eva visit Maria in prison this week. Despite Maria’s wishes because of her feelings for Aidan, she agrees to let Liam move in with Aidan and Eva in the flat.

And that’s just about that for this week.
 
Remember, you can sign up to get these Corrie weekly updates by email at http://www.corrie.net/updates/weekly/subscribe.htm

This week’s writers were John Kerr (Monday double); Mark Wadlow (Wednesday); Joe Turner (Friday double). Find out all about the Coronation Street writing team at Coronation Street Blog: Exclusive: All Current Corrie writers online

Glenda Young
--
Blogging away merrily at Flaming Nora
Website: glendayoungbooks.com

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