Dear Coronation Street – do not let Brian Packham slip through your fingers for a second time. If I have to, I will march on ITV brandishing a Save Our Brian placard. He’s a true Corrie legend and it’s a crying shame that he’s only been brought back temporarily to facilitate Julie Carp’s exit.
Since its earliest days, Coronation Street has typically portrayed Weatherfield menfolk as either feckless or villainous. But amid the philanderers and murderers, there’s always been room for the ever-so superior turkey cock just waiting to have his pomposity pricked.
Think Leonard Swindley, Alf Roberts, Fred Elliott and – of course – the wonderful Brian Packham. Fleshy, jowly creatures who should, by rights, have the respect of everyone in sight. But who are always destined to be left deflated by their encounters with gobby northern women who have no truck with pillars of the community.
Once Brian goes (again), just who is left to fulfil that role? Dev Alahan? Too priapic. Norris Cole? Too much of a fusspot. Ken Barlow? Just too fusty.
No, it has to be the polite but ineffectual Brian, one-time headteacher of Bessie Street Primary school and the kind of man who’ll lecture his pupils on healthy eating before sneaking off to Roy’s Rolls for a belly-busting fry-up. There’s just so much comedy potential in seeing an articulate man left foundering in the face of his double standards being exposed by a brassy matriarch.
True, the Corrie writers almost ruined him first time around, when his sabotaging of Julie’s hopes to foster children felt unnecessarily cruel and devious. But his brief return has seen him fully rehabilitated, particularly in scenes where he’s revelled in the joys of wearing Ken’s silk kimono or when he’s attended Julie’s exercise class.
Coronation Street has always been peopled by recognisable ‘types’. The ‘tart with a heart’, the ‘nosy neighbour’, the ‘lovable lodger’, the ‘common family upon whom everyone else can look down’. In Brian, the show has a perfect ‘proud but inept professional man’. Perhaps its best since the days of Swindley’s Emporium.
So let’s pray that Brian’s upcoming round-the-world trip ends with him back at Ken’s door. Head held high, but dreams somehow in tatters. Jilted and yet still affecting an air of nobility. Ready to start work back at Bessie Street and don a suit and tie. Albeit one inevitably stained with fried egg from that breakfast at the café.
Come on Corrie – S.O.B. – Save Our Brian!
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