By Jacqui Morley
Mawkish or masterful? In Blackpool’s own Coronation Street the jury’s out on the soap opera which led to a surge in calls to helplines.
One of the oddest couples in British TV history have stolen viewers’ hearts and left many mourning the suicide of Hayley Cropper and sharing the grief of husband Roy.
It lent a surreal air to the National Television Awards when the pair turned up, holding hands, smiling, actor David Neilson dapper in a smart suit, Julie Hesmondhalgh magically restored from the ghastly yellow pallor of pancreatic cancer and surprisingly glam under her bright blonde bob cut.
It was clear for all the vocal lobby for the unremitting misery of East Enders that Corrie won the night – even if Neilson himself missed out.
But the viewing post mortem goes on, the plot picked over like the bones of the dead duck that was penguin cam in the Spy in the Huddle documentary series, ousted into also-ran by the outstanding Educating Yorkshire.
For Mark Simpson who runs a guesthouse in Blackpool it proves one thing.
“We want it real. The best soaps are made in the North. Emmerdale – Farm as I still call it – and Coronation Street are as real as it gets.
“Some of the storylines are a stretch. Possibly because I’m gay myself, and formerly married, I could never quite buy the Marcus storyline where he’s shacked up with some bird and flirting with a man. By his age he will have made up his mind. ”
Mark’s partner Chris agrees. “The thing I found hardest to accept as I have some transgender friends myself was the decision to have Hayley, who’s TG, played by a woman. If Corrie really wanted to keep it real they should have employed a transgender. That said she’s done a great job and I think the plot relating to whether she would revert to a he under the influence of morphine or whatever drugs they give cancer sufferers was a really well made point.”
Husband and wife cafe owners Brian and Joan Rawcliffe of South Shore also praised the programme for “putting assisted death back on the news agenda” ahead of the Lords debate in May.