Coronation Street (7th April 1976)

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Written by Leslie Duxbury

The return of Elsie was an event (it ensured that this episode was the most-watched edition of Corrie that year, and indeed the highest rating episode since 18/2/70). Middle-age sparks are still flying between Len and Elsie, as the pair circle each other warily. Len’s on-off relationship with Rita is touched upon – which will set us up for several years worth of Elsie/Rita conflict over the glittering prize of Mr Len Fairclough ….

Elsie’s in a reminiscing mood. “Funny thing. Just as I came round the corner from the corner shop, the feeling that I’d never been away. It felt just like coming home”. I wonder whether this mirrored Pat Phoenix’s feelings? By all accounts, Phoenix wasn’t the easiest actor to accommodate (something which didn’t endear her to the writing or production staff) but she remained an audience favourite.

The inquest into Ray and Deirdre’s cadging of free drinks (on account of her non-existent pregnancy) continues. Mrs Walker is not best pleased about being deceived.  Later, the pair take a stroll along the Weatherfield canal where Deirdre drops the bombshell that she’d like a chequebook. This conversation could easily have taken place at the Rovers, but it was nice to have a chance of scene and get onto film for a minute.

Minnie’s last hurrah is a very brief scene in the Kabin. Margot Bryant’s memory was so bad by this point that she was forced to refer to her script several times (which was nestling on the counter). It’s a very sad and low-key way for such a long-running character to exit the series. We’d learn later in the year that Minnie was happy though, having settled down with Handel Gartside in Whaley Bridge.

Elsie remains holed up with Len in No 9 for most of the episode. Visitors come and go – first Bet and then Rita. Bet’s visit is reasonably convivial, Rita’s less so (as you might expect).  You could have cut the atmosphere with a cricket stump – both swap icy greetings before Rita harshly wonders if Elsie’s making “a flying visit or ….”

Eventually Elsie ventures out to the Rovers, which was probably just as well since tongues had been wagging there at maximum velocity for some time.  Some – like Ken – are welcoming (although they’ll soon clash over a certain house) whilst others – like Rita – remain stony faced.  And Rita’s dour disposition doesn’t improve after she learns that Elsie’s looking for a job in the area ….

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3 thoughts on “Coronation Street (7th April 1976)

  1. The continued absence of Minnie Caldwell, save for a few fleeting mentions when her empty house becomes pertinent, is the most depressing aspect of 1976 Coronation Street. What we eventually get in lieu of a farewell at the end of the year (Harry Markham turns up and Ena looks around the empty room) is alright, but the long-term viewer would have been better served with a grace note of a brief (dialogue-free) filmed insert of Ena and Minnie sitting in a garden together.

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    • There are a number of these sad exits in the years to come – Annie Walker’s similarly perfunctory departure is even more baffling (as Doris Speed remained in pretty good health for a number of years, quite why she couldn’t have reappeared briefly is something of a mystery).

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  2. The notoriously abrupt departure that I keep hoping will turn up is the final appearance of Lucille Hewitt, carrying the main plot on a Monday and then suddenly disappeared forever on the Wednesday, after troubled Jennifer Moss is sacked on the spot after recording for being drunk and incapable while performing. Lucille is hardly ever mentioned again afterwards. But as my desire to watch this one is for rather sick reasons, it only seems fair that I’ll never get to watch it…

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