Have you noticed that nobody ever smiles on Coronation Street at the moment? Everywhere you look it’s hangdog, pensive expressions: Anna braced for bankruptcy, Peter staring into the abyss as his fringe gets longer and greasier, Maddie and Sophie trying to out-scowl each other…It’s all so flipping dour.
What happened to the days when brassy heroines lined up against the bar of the Rovers and joked about their feckless fellas while the men in question connived in corners? OK, so the smiles were often, to quote Bet Lynch, “a lid on a scream”, but at least there were fewer frowns.
I mean, if I have to see another murderer trying to pathetically cover their tracks, it’ll be me doing the screaming. What was once a novelty when John “all I wanted to do was teach” Stape stumbled into homicide has now become a bore.
Surely this latest business of Rob killing Tina is just the same as when Karl did away with Sunita? DS Stupid Soap Policeman and his partner DC Clueless Copper have made all the textbook errors, which means that Peter is currently occupying that cell reserved for totally innocent Weatherfield residents. Look closely, Peter – I bet Deirdre and Gail’s names are still graffitied on the wall.
Maybe if I want comedy I should be watching Mrs Brown’s Boys, but there used to be a time on Coronation Street when adversity would have bred a nice line in telling comment and wry humour. But it seems that the art of the arch putdown died with Blanche Hunt.
Those characters with comic potential have either been forgotten about (Mary) or made too grotesque (Norris). True, the mighty Dev Alahan is still a peerless pratfaller, but there are only so many times that you can have a man slip from a running machine.
Even world-class gurner Steve McDonald has been felled by a mid-life crisis. What kind of gloomy world are we living in when cab office banter has been replaced with tortured introspection?
The strength of the Street has always been its ability to juggle joy and pain, but 2014 has so far felt like a year of relentless despondency. After the poignancy of Hayley’s death, we needed something to lighten the load. Instead, we’ve had Tina being bludgeoned, Todd acting vile for no good reason and Anna selling her body to save her family. Not exactly a day trip to Blackpool in a charabanc, is it?
Perhaps I’m harking back to a land of lost content, to an era when Bet being plonked in a cow pat could happily share screen time with Ken and Deirdre’s marriage crisis. But there is the definite feeling that Corrie really needs to dust itself off, put on the war paint and greet its viewers with a grin. Before we all start looking as ground down as Peter Barlow.