Coronation Street (26th May 1976)

Written by Leslie Duxbury

Sunday morning. The church bells are ringing and an ebullient Fred, waiting at the door of the Rovers, greets Betty and Bet. Mrs Walker is away and Fred appears to have decided to take charge (which is slightly odd as Betty, given her length of service, is senior to him). His latest wheeze is lunchtime sandwiches. He’s convinced they’ll go a bomb with the punters but Betty and Bet aren’t so sure (especially since they’ve been lumbered with making them – well that sort of thing is women’s work after all).

There then follows another tense Ken/Wendy scene. Unlike most of the residents of Coronation Street, who like to indulge in plain speaking, Ken and Wendy spend their time skirting around the issues. This means it pays to be aware of what hasn’t been said (in this case, Wendy has yet to mention that she knows about Ken’s committee fracas, although she still manages to drop discomforting little hints).

Bet is convinced that Fred Gee Gee is empire building – so whilst Mrs Walker is away, his plan for world (or at least Rovers Return) domination begins with a selection of sandwiches. Quite why both Betty and Bet allow him to take charge is a slight mystery, especially since Bet’s never reluctant to slap down anyone who takes liberties. One (rather cruel) possibility is that they know the sandwiches won’t sell and so they’ve given him enough rope to hang himself ….

Gail, Tricia and Elsie are musing over the important topics of life (sex, for example) at the breakfast table. When Elsie moves back to her own house, Gail follows her as a lodger whilst Tricia departs for pastures new. There’s some good Elsie/Gail scenes to come in the months ahead (especially when Gail begins a disastrous affair, much to Elsie’s dismay) but we’ll have to wait until early 1977, and the arrival of Suzie, before they become a triumvirate again. This is when the comic potential in their characters gets ramped up.

Poor, poor Emily. Her faux paus in the previous episode (telling Wendy that Ken was in trouble with the committee) is compounded today when she confides to Ken that she’s glad he isn’t angry with her for spilling the beans. Of course Ken, like Wendy, is totally in the dark (she hasn’t come clean either). The fury of Barlow is a terrible thing to see.

But at least Emily, in her well-meaning way, has finally got the pair to confront their problems. Left to their own devices, who knows how long it would have taken. Ken remains confident that they have a future (or at least that’s what he tells her). But I’m not so sure about Wendy.

Every time we cross back to the Rovers, the camera lingers on the pile of unsold sandwiches. They’re not exactly going like hot cakes (or indeed hot sandwiches). Mavis does buy one, but there are few other takers (Ena is especially disdainful). At closing time, Betty wonders what they’re going to do with them all – most will have to thrown out, but Bet, Betty and crafty old Ena aren’t averse to sampling a few for free.

Wendy’s friend, Diana, turns up unexpectedly. She’s brought a pile of mail, including Wendy’s car insurance (which has been paid by her estranged husband, Roger).  Wendy’s touched by this, which is a sure sign that the flame between them still burns.

The final scene reinforces the gulf between Wendy and Ken. Whilst she remains inside, he’s out in the street with the others, who are all pitching in to get things ready for the party.  This is simply another reminder of Wendy’s uneasy status as an outsider.

One thought on “Coronation Street (26th May 1976)

  1. I thought when I was watching this one that the Elsie, Gail and Tricia scene would work well as one of your Twitter clips! It’s the type of reflective freestanding scene – serving no necessary narrative purpose in any ongoing storyline – that I suspect were often the bits that got lost in the Granada Plus edits.

    Liked by 1 person

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