Coronation Street is famous for its battleaxes – tough, no-nonsense, acid-tongued forces of northern nature as essential to the cobbles as the Rovers and the opening credits cat.
But since losing the legendary Blanche Hunt, following the passing of actress Maggie Jones in 2009, there’s been a distinct lack of that style of stock character among the cast, which producer Kate Oates has openly acknowledged – and is keen to amend.
Weatherfield needs a new battleaxe, and we’ve drawn up a fantasy list of ladies who could fill the hole left by the likes of mardy matriarchs such as the late great Blanche, Roy Cropper’s mum Sylvia Goodwin and Eva’s glamorous granny Gloria Price.
It’s more about age than attitude, so we’ve cast our net wide – and thrown a few curveballs in there. Let’s hope one of this lot are dishing out putdowns in the snug by Christmas…
Lesley Joseph Corrie has never really had a Jewish family and the Birds of a Feather favourite would be an excellent choice to be its matriarch. And before you start yelling Maureen Lipman – she’s already done the Street, playing relief bar manager Lilian Spencer in 2002.
Pauline Collins The closest she’s come to Coronation Street is playing characters in the spin-off series Pardon the Expression. So it’s high time she got a crack at the cobbles – plus she’d be welcome to bring along husband John Alderton if she saw fit.
Su Pollard The Hi-De-Hi! favourite would be a perfect as a long-lost Tinker, wreaking havoc for Beth and Sinead and messing up the orders at the Underworld knicker factory. But cross her at your peril – we feel that a putdown from Pollard would be comedy gold.
Jane McDonald The Cruise legend should be a shoo-in, if only for the sight of her competing in a Rovers karaoke contest against Rita and Michelle. Just imagine the sniping over who’d sung the best version of Let it Go.
Carole Boyd Having been the unsung hero of The Archers for many a decade as village whirlwind Lynda Snell, Boyd deserves some TV soap action, perhaps as Tim’s ever-so-refined mother. The one-upmanship with Sally would be a joy.
Julie Walters She’s no doubt been at the top of every Corrie casting director’s wish list for years, and the actress is a lifelong fan. Comedy, grit, warmth: she’s practically the embodiment of the Street’s most famous ingredients. Annie Walker meets Mrs Overall – who wouldn’t want to watch that?
Alison Steadman As feisty sitcom matriarch Pamela Shipman in Gavin and Stacey, Steadman combined lovable and formidable in a way that would make her a cobbles queen. How about she plays the bolshy owner of a classy deli opening on the expanded street (once it goes six nights a week and there’s a bigger set) who has a love/hate relationship with ladies’ man Dev?
Maggie Steed She may have just started a long-term role in EastEnders as plucky pensioner Joyce Murray, but we’re a bit worried about the gun husband Ted’s hiding in that box. If it were to go off and she was in the firing line, veteran star Steed could nip up the M6 and fit right in at Corrie instead – perhaps as Mary Taylor’s mum?
Dame Joan Collins If Hollyoaks can tempt Dallas icon Linda Gray to Chester, why can’t Collins rock up on the cobbles? She’s already done Benidorm. Although maybe she’d be best as a long-lost relation of Home Farm’s dysfunctional White family in Emmerdale…
Patricia Routledge Another actress on this list closely associated with the work of Victoria Wood (her character Kitty would’ve been right at home in Weatherfield), the inimitable Routledge has the perfect mix of steel, smarts and northern wit.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s Coronation Street below.