It wasn’t very often that Stan Ogden was hailed a hero, but that’s exactly what happened way back in late 1970 when Stan broke into Minnie Caldwell’s house to confront the man who had been holding his daughter Irma in the flat above the shop...
The man in question was the American GI Joe Donelli, who had returned to Weatherfield two years after murdering Elsie Tanner’s husband Steve (over a gambling debt). Donelli was armed with a gun and, although he let Minnie go, Stan was forced to remain in the house and, bizarrely, sing the Christmas carol Silent Night...
During the song, the camera showed the viewer the scene from outside the house as a gun-shot was heard indoors. The audience presumably feared the worst for the Street’s most lovable work-shy oaf... but Donelli had turned the gun on himself, bringing the siege (of sorts) to a close and earning Stan a hero’s welcome and free drinks in the Rovers.
Coincidentally, after a very brief appearance in 1966, Bet Lynch started her long stint behind the bar on 2nd December 1970... the new barmaid having joined the regular cast in the same year that saw the real life passing of Arthur Leslie, which robbed the Rovers of its much loved landlord Jack Walker.
If you want to watch the episode in question, it can be found somewhere on YouTube and if you do take a peek, is there anything familiar about the man who plays Joe Donelli?
You won’t recognise his face, nor his name I would guess – it’s Shane Rimmer if it helps...
It doesn’t, does it..?
Told you so...
If you are of a certain vintage, shut your eyes and just listen to the voice. Can you place where you’ve heard it before? If you’re not sure, just Google the name, I’m sure the answer will surprise you...
Last night, I travelled over to Hartlepool’s Victoria Ground to watch Gateshead’s “home” Blue Square Premier League game against high-flying Wrexham.
Having watched Gateshead home and away throughout most of the 1990s, this was my first league fixture in over a decade. I hadn’t seen a game at this particular ground in many a year either – from memory the stand in the picture didn’t even exist last time I was there...
It was good to catch up with one or two familiar faces from times gone by, even though I was still reeling from the £14 admission... £14? For non-league football?
Oh well, maybe it’ll be a decent game...
Gateshead huffed and puffed but lacked any real composure in the final third, although they did squander a couple of golden chances, one in each half. Wrexham were the better side, but not by as much as the difference in league position would suggest. The visitors were quick on the break and although they also missed a couple of great opportunities, they did find the back of the net, Brett Ormerod converting from a close range fairly early on in the second half.
Whilst there was plenty of effort and commitment from the Gateshead players, they lacked the craft to break down a decent Wrexham defence and the Welsh side comfortably held on to their advantage.
So for Wrexham, a trip to Wembley in the FA Trophy beckons and they stand three points clear of the rest of the table in their bid to regain Football League status. As for Gateshead, well all that lies ahead is a relegation battle, one that at£14 a go I won’t be witnessing first hand, but for the current generation of the “Heed Army”, I really hope it is a battle they can win.
Neatly sidestepping the Michael LeVell situation, I have a couple of related trivia questions for you.
Firstly, what links the following, all of whom have (at some time or another and to a greater or lesser extent) appeared in Coronation Street? William Russell, Mark Eden, Helen Worth (above), Thelma Barlow, Sarah Lancashire, Anne Reid and, bizarrely, Peter Kay? (the list isn’t exhaustive by the way)...
The answer is that they’ve also all appeared in Doctor Who...
I’m not going to go through the list one by one and list the parts that they played –that’s what the internet is for – but in Weatherfield, the first two-named were both love interests of Rita Tanner. William Russell (who was the original TARDIS companion Ian Chesterton in Doctor Who) played Ted Sullivan, Rita’s short-lived husband. Mark Eden, who played Marco Polo in the 1964 story of the same name, was the altogether not very nice Alan Bradley in Corrie between 1986 and 1989.
It’s interesting that in almost fifty years of time travel, the Doctor has encountered many alien races and futuristic weapons galore, but when you want to get the job done, you can always rely on a Blackpool tram...
Secondly, which two members of the Grimshaw family have also appeared in Doctor Who?
Well you can have one point for remembering Bruno Langley (Eileen’s son Todd), who was cast as Adam Mitchell in the 2005 Christopher Eccleston story Dalek... no points for guessing what enemy to Doctor faced in that one...
But points galore... in fact you can have unlimited points (unless you googled) if you came up with the name of Edward de Souza, who played Eileen’s father Colin between 2008 and 2009. Way back in 1965, Edward was space agent Marc Cory –ahhh, now I get the blog’s title - in the one off episode Mission to the Unknown (uniquely the only story to feature none of the regular Doctor Who characters). In Weatherfield, Colin lasted six months before succumbing to a heart attack, but back on the planet Kembel, Marc didn’t even last until the end of the twenty-five minute episode as he was surrounded by Daleks and blasted into oblivion...
And no, in case you were wondering, there isn’t any real point to this blog; just a random, trivial digression to start your week. Peter Kay eh..? Who’d have thought..?
Next week is Mental Health Awareness week organised by Time to Change (there is a similar campaign in May run by the Mental Health Foundation). The events are being held in the University of Warwick, but the message will hopefully spread much further than Coventry.
I won’t profess to being an expert on the subject, but clearly there is a stigma caused by a general lack of under-standing and a need to encourage sufferers to display real strength in being able to open up about their personal situation – very similar to the strength it takes to try and cope in silence.
If you feel inclined to look back at my blogs from the back end of 2011, I decided to reveal the fact that I have battled with depression. Do I have an illness? Well yes, I suppose I do, but am I ill? Contrary as it may seem, my answer is no... I struggle from time to time, but with initial acceptance (and it took a long time) came the courage to talk about something very private, something which only those who knew me best would have suspected.
I didn’t and don’t want sympathy. The same applies to allowances, but there are (and maybe will always be) bad days along the way and it makes a real difference when you can concentrate on the knowledge that the feelings will pass, rather than using all your emotional strength to try and hide those feelings –tradition, stigma etc weighs heavily.
Last week, I had to spend a night in a Birmingham hotel; my last overnight stay witnessed the worst night of my life... the moment that finally broke my resolve to suffer in silence. I got through the return visit without one bad thought... it may seem trivial to many, but a ghost was laid to rest on Tuesday night and I was proud not only of myself but of those whose belief in me never wavered after I admitted exactly how I had felt.
I’m sure there will be one or two people who have read my occasional pieces on this subject and think ‘here he goes again...’ (it’s fine to click and close the page by the way), but the actual point of this blog has nothing to do with me...
If the messages that you are not alone, that there is acceptance and help strike a chord with even one reader, well therein lies the reason. It’s fine to ask for support... oh and it’s equally fine to leave a comment!
Well I’ve made it through another long week... the difference is that this one will be followed by a few days off work – and I could really do with the break.
I’m planning a few trips to the gym and a bit of time tapping away on the computer keyboard to try and finish or at least progress a couple of ongoing book projects, but most of all I’m looking forward to just relaxing with Elaine, perhaps with a glass or two of vino for company.
During the past week, I travelled down to Birmingham for a Mentoring Skills course. Work courses come in many different shapes and sizes and some are perhaps more interesting than others... and this was definitely one of the former.
Theory is one thing, but the putting into practice (with practice being the appropriate word) of the various skills and methods was fascinating. Those who know me will be well aware that if I had my own trumpet I wouldn’t blow it (although I do hold a Grade 3 merit in that particular brass instrument...), but the lady who took the course had some very kind words to say about my technique... that’s questioning technique (tut tut) and I came away feeling that mentoring is something I want to take further.
I did have one “double take” moment when we were introduced to Johari’s Window... I misheard and hid just in case there was a knock at the door...
Anyway (and seriously), it’s obviously early days, but the thought that at some time in the future I might develop to the point when I could help to make a positive difference to someone is really exciting. I’ll be doing a bit of back-ground reading (in between the typing and the wine) over the next few days and who knows where it may lead?
For now though... Muscadet!
I have very recently been invited to write a weekly Coronation Street blog for a fans web site. The link to today's offering is included below (for future reference), but the actual article also follows. The hope is that one or two Corrie viewers might find their way to my book about the Rovers barmaids and decide to invest. The reality may be different! http://fansofcoronationstreet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/a-fine-line.html
Never a dull day in Weatherfield. With Lewis finally having scarpered with Gail’s cash, all eyes are now firmly focussed on Kirsty and Tyrone, And if you thought Gail was gullible in the extreme (which she was...), then you can add to the list everyone who has been duped by Kirsty’s manipulation and lies. Butter wouldn’t melt for Corrie’s undisputed lightweight champion and for some other residents, short memories and misguided loyalties abound as things go from bad to worse for Tyrone.
It bothers me somewhat that as far as some soap writers are concerned, the need to extend the drama (presumably to build the tension to the climactic finale) outweighs the importance of how the subject matter is dealt with. I don’t know, but I’d hazard a guess that Kirsty will get her comeuppance at some point in the future, but for anyone unfortunate enough to haveTyrone’s fictional misery played out in real life, any hope that things can and do improve is pretty thin on the ground at the moment.
It’s to Corrie’s credit that the programme raises the profile of some desperately serious subjects, but is there an albeit fine line beyond which the issue becomes secondary to the ratings?
Moving sideways, a plot (however well written) will always need quality acting performances if the desired effect is to be achieved. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure just how good the overall standard of acting is in any serial drama, but Natalie Gumede is most certainly believable as the scheming ex-police officer.
If you look back a few years, the Charlie and Shelley (pictured) story worked because of the wonderful interaction between the two actors and more recently, Becky McDonald’s ups and downs were brilliantly realised by Katharine Kelly, but I’d venture that performers of her talent are the exception rather than the rule.
That said, if you pressed me for the best (or perhaps that should read most versatile) actor or actress ever to have graced the Coronation Street cobbles, I’d need about one second of deliberation before giving you the name Suranne Jones. Maybe Natalie Gumede is another star of the future, but for now let’s hope the current storyline is played out with empathy as well as dramatic effect
Much was made of Rebecca Adlington’s decision to retire from competitive swimming at the age of 23... it does seem very young but I should point out that I haven’t swum competitively since I was eight. Plenty has been said and written about the achievements of this young woman, but I’m going to add a few words of my own.
Any athlete that reaches the top of their chosen sport or event will almost certainly have been blessed with a natural talent, but what the spectator or viewer sees is the simply the culmination of years of training, dedication, determination and sacrifice – all concentrated into the performance(s) that will ultimately define that athlete. Delivering in minutes what you have practiced for years is what makes a true champion – and Rebecca Adlington is undeniably a champion.
History tends to remember winners and in Beijing 2008, Rebecca won two gold medals. The first was so dramatic that it had me shouting at the television and the many interviews that followed her success revealed a wonderful personality behind that incredible desire and will to win. With London 2012 looming, the British press did what it does so well and hung medals round several necks long before the Games even started. The pressure that comes from such media-generated public expectation must be unbelievably difficult to cope with... bearing in mind that this is in addition to all the training and preparation for such a massive event.
Four years is a long time in swimming terms and girls who weren’t even teenagers in 2008 were now mature and strong enough to challenge for Olympic glory. Rebecca may not have won gold in London, but her two bronze medals were a brilliant achievement. The tears that followed, both during interviews and on the podium were an emotional release that surely affected many of the viewing millions. Rebecca owed the public nothing. What she saw as “failure” was in the eyes of many a fantastic success – something to celebrate and of which she should be extremely proud.
Now the future beckons and even though we might not see her winning any more medals in the pool, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this very special young lady. Congratulations Rebecca and good luck!
Well here we are at the end of another topsy-turvy week – some bits have been some, others less so, but I’m off work today and looking forward to the weekend.
Just thought I’d do a sort of book update... not that sales have exactly gone through the roof since Christmas. Officially, sales are “languishing on the cellar steps”, my first submission to a publisher has been flat-batted (albeit politely) and the fame and fortune tunnel has no light in it whatsoever, but am I downhearted?
Well, actually I am, but I’m going to soldier on bravely in the hope that this old bloke will one day be discovered... in a kind of Howard Carter and Tutankhamun of way, but preferably before mummification takes place.
So this is where I am at the moment... volume two of the Gateshead Thunder history (2000-02) is complete, except for an updated afterword with former player and current head coach Kevin Neighbour which Kev and I are in the process of setting up. The club and supporters club have offered their help and a local journalist has said he would do an interview when the book is published. All sounds really positive... think I’d better do one more proof read...
I’ve updated a short book I completed three years ago, charting the early fights of Cassius Clay up to and including his defeat of Sonny Liston for the world heavy-weight title in 1964. It’s not really intended for sale, but if any of you are keen boxing fans, I might be able to get hold of a few copies for a fiver each?
And finally (well nearly), due to public demand (and my definition is “two people”),I’m seriously considering a full rewrite of Desperately Seeking Susan Foreman. Three of the female TARDIS companions have passed away since the first edition of the book was published in 2010 and recently I actually “found” the eponymous Ms Foreman when Carole Ann Ford’s signed photo arrived after nearly three years of trying.
And finally (definitely)... for all you Coronation Street followers out there – The Lynch Mob is still available – discounted – so please hurry and buy your copy. Not because the price is going to go back up... not because the book will be going out of print... but because time is getting on and I want to be able to spend the royalties while I’m still middle-aged!
Have a great weekend.
All my own work... almost.