Last week was Coronation Street’s annual blockbuster week, when the nation’s favourite soap is shifted from its usual early evening slot to a post-watershed position. Although it may be a forced decision, thanks to the end-of-the-pier juggernaut Britain’s Got Talent taking over the box and obliterating the remainder of the schedule, it makes for a tumultuous week of action on the cobbles
By Matthew Gormley @MatthewPGormley
.Last week was Coronation Street’s annual blockbuster week, when the nation’s favourite soap is shifted from its usual early evening slot to a post-watershed position. Although it may be a forced decision, thanks to the end-of-the-pier juggernaut Britain’s Got Talent taking over the box and obliterating the remainder of the schedule, it makes for a tumultuous week of action on the cobbles. Since the tradition launched with Siege Week in May 2010, each year they’ve tried to go bigger and better. Whilst some story arcs have been gripping, others have been indifferent and uninteresting.
This year’s five part special brought together three ongoing storylines, each of them coming to a rather anti-climatic end on Friday evening. The domestic whodunnit surrounding the attempted murder of Weatherfield’s longest serving resident Ken Barlow was solved. Whilst many viewers, I’m sure, had their suspicions that it was Kenneth’s long lost prodigal son, golden child Daniel, who was responsible, there were countless more that were taken by surprise, myself included. At the end of the previous week (Friday 26 May), we saw Danny boy lift his creaky floorboards to reveal a bloodied literary bible that he’d used to bash his father over the head, sending him tumbling down the stairs.
When Ken took off to help Daniel decorate his old house at the beginning of the week, he was blissfully unaware that he was isolating himself with the one person who’d tried to bump him off. When Ken inexplicably decided to dig up a rose bush from the neglected back garden to take home with them, he came across a tin belonging to former flame, Daniel’s mother Denise. Alarm bells started to ring for poor Ken and before long, unstable Daniel had confessed. We know very little about Daniel’s upbringing, but his mother has been absent for much of this life. Conveniently, she turns up at their old house on the very day he’s holding his petrified dad captive, serving as a stark reminder that, it may be a post-watershed blockbuster, but it is still soap land after all.
I struggled to understand exactly what Daniel’s motive could have been for lamping his father. As it turns out, on that fateful night, Ken’s inscription in Daniel’s book talked about his ‘golden opportunity’, mirroring the words that Sinead had used when confessing that she had, in fact, terminated her pregnancy and not suffered a miscarriage. It didn’t take long for the young Barlow to put two and two together. Well, he is an intellectual.
Credit to Rob Mallard, whose plays Daniel, for his superlative acting in this week’s episodes. Despite the fact that he came close to killing off the beating heart of the Street, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, as he’s clearly very troubled, scarred by a childhood which we have so much more to learn about.
Ever since the fall, back in March, it could have been any one of the Barlow clan that was responsible. It was far from obvious who the guilty culprit was, and it makes a refreshing change for the Corrie bosses not to giveaway the plots to the press. Proving once again that it is possible to keep their stories a secret if they so wish, it’s a shame they normally feel the need spill the beans.
However, the big reveal could have been much better. The Street’s current producer, Kate Oates, was responsible for the ‘Who Shot Robert?’ story arc during her stint at Emmerdale. This climaxed with a special flashback episode, where the action rewound to the night of the shooting, and we saw the action first-hand, exactly as it happened. It was a unique, clever and groundbreaking concept for a soap opera; a first that Kate could have easily transferred over to the cobbles. There was even a special scene filmed for an online exclusive, where we saw Daniel making his way down the stairs, clutching the weapon in his hand, so it seems like such a wasted opportunity.
Meanwhile, the increasingly complicated lives of Nick and Leanne saw them take a trip to the seaside, alongside the two biological fathers, all pretending to be one huge happy family. With Ben Price’s departure looming, we knew it wasn’t going to end well for the suave businessman. Over the last few weeks, the scriptwriters have transformed kind and caring Nick into a manipulative individual, desperate to get Peter and Steve out of his life for good. By the middle of the week, it looked like he was set to die a slow and painful death, as he was engulfed in quicksand on an isolated beach, with only his arch enemy Peter Barlow for company. But he came out alive and, instead, left Weatherfield in his own car. Not exactly what we expected, but as he ‘saw the light’ and decided he didn’t like the person he’d become, it was emotional all the same.
Grotesque groomer Nathan finally got his comeuppance after the painfully naive Bethany was horrifically gang raped by three of his pervy pals. Viewers breathed a sigh of relief when Shona, one of Nathan’s ex-victims, raised the alarm and helped to get him arrested, yet brainwashed Bethany still insists she’s in love with the sleaze ball. Sadly, this harrowing storyline is being portrayed for one very good reason: it happens in the real world on a regular basis. Whilst the writers, as usual, are doing their best to keep it real, would the young girl really be so dense to stand by a man who burned her arm with a cigarette? What more does he have to do to make her realise he’s evil? Time will tell.
Coronation Street’s blockbuster week may have started sensationally, but the final episode turned into a damp squib. Ken’s attacker was revealed, but Mr Barlow retracted his statement and, subsequently, Daniel got off scot-free. Nick almost drowned in the quagmire on a secluded beach but was rescued and, instead, departed off his own back. Nathan could have been brought to justice but Bethany maintained that he’d done nothing wrong.
As the schedules return to normal and the action-packed drama is cranked back down to its usual, moderate level, let’s hope the scriptwriters don’t lose momentum and let this trio of storylines fizzle out completely.
Coronation Street continues on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.