Coronation Street – 16th December 1960

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The opening of this episode has something of a Coronation Street rarity – a restaged cliffhanger.  This gives us an opportunity to marvel once again at the man who’s quickly become my favourite extra (you can’t miss him, he’s wearing a checked cap and has a habit of staring straight into the camera).

Linda and Ivan have a set-to in the Rovers bar, their every move observed by Ena, Martha and Minnie (watching from the safety of the snug).  As you might expect, the trio exhibit a mixture of prurient disapproval (the language!) and sadness that they can’t quite hear all the juicy details ….

Minnie gets to utter her first words, but it’s plain that she’s very much at the bottom of the pecking order at present – Ena first, then Martha, then Minnie.  When Ena decides to head home for a cup of cocoa, she invites Martha but doesn’t include Minnie.  Not that Minnie seems too bothered (presumably she’s used to this sort of treatment by now).

Ena and Martha’s cocoa is interrupted by Leonard Swindley (Arthur Lowe).  Making his debut here, Swindley is the chairman of the Glad Tidings Mission Hall (Ena acts as caretaker).   Although she’s not paid, she does receive free board (and coal) which is the reason why Swindley feels able to tell her that the committee aren’t at all happy with her conduct – namely the fact that she frequents licenced premises.  Oh dear ….

Ena’s not going to take this sort of thing lying down.  At one point she raises her arm as if to strike the unfortunate Swindley, but instead settles for a frank exchange of views.  Ena’s isn’t prepared to change her habits for anyone, something which she makes abundantly clear to the unfortunate Swindley.  Arthur Lowe only has a brief scene here, but it’s long enough to sketch out Swindley’s main character traits – he’s a pompous and officious type.  Of course, Lowe would later play a not dissimilar character in Dad’s Army, meaning that it’s easy to draw parallels between the two.

We finally learn why Linda’s been acting so erratically – she’s pregnant but was convinced that Ivan didn’t want children (hence the reason why she ran away).  But he seems more than happy with the thought of becoming a father, so all seems well.  For the moment.

The confrontation between Ivan and Dennis is interesting.  Dennis makes a disparaging comment about Linda’s unborn child, which infuriates Ivan.  Although Dennis cast a menacing shadow across the opening episode, when Ivan squares up to him he’s dramatically reduced in stature (it’s rather like a man facing a boy).

Once again, children provide a sense of discord.  Last time they vandalised Susan’s car, here they’re shouting abuse at May Hardman (Joan Heath).  May’s troubles (she’s suffered a nervous breakdown) were touched upon in episode two and it’s clear that she’s more than a little worried about the reception she’s going to receive from the neighbours.  Right from her first scene she’s marked as a victim – so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that her time on the street will be very limited.

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