Monday, 17 January 2011

Character Study: Eileen Grimshaw

One of my favourite characters is Eileen Grimshaw. She's sarcastic, senstive, strong, usually sensible (us "voices of reason" have to stick together) and she's the kind of mate many of us women would love to have.

She's the heart and soul of the taxi office and a fiercely loyal friend and mother. We don't know a lot about Eileen Grimshaw's formative years though we do know her father seduced her best schoolmate, Paula Carp and it broke up her parents' marraige. Eileen never knew what happened and her mother's bitterness sent Eileen to the side of her feckless father. It was only when she discovered what happened a couple of years ago and discovered that not only was there a fling, there was a child, that Eileen turned against her father and regretted that she and her mother never really made up before her mother's death.

We do know that she has had a string of bad relationships, resulting in two lads who each had a different father. She brought them up on her own because their dads were feckless and not much good. Jason's dad, Tony, has popped in and out of his life but it didn't seem like Todd's father could ever be bothered. Eileen is a survivor who keeps pulling herself back up when she's been knocked back because that's just what you do.

Eileen Grimshaw was hired by Vikram to work at the taxi company and she was an instant hit. The chemistry between her and her coworkers/bosses was immediately obvious. Eileen is reliable and dependable.

Her most prevalent personality trait is her fiercely protective love for her sons. She'll do anything for her lads to help them along or give them whatever start she can in life. She's even gone into serious financial debt to give them what she could, Jason, a car and Todd, a computer. She nearly went to prison when her ex, Tony, stole money from the cab firm and she was erroneously accused of it. She was in dire financial straits and was the logical suspect though this hurt her deeply. She thought her boss, Steve McDonald, would have more trust in her.

She's going to be in another financial crunch now that she's bought Number 11 and will be caught with her hand in Owen Armstrong's accounts in an impulse of desperation. 

Eileen Vs. Gail Platt

Eileen's ongoing feud with Gail Platt stems from Gail's daughter Sarah's dealings with both of her sons. When it looked like Todd was headed to Oxford or Cambridge, Eileen was bursting at the seams with pride. The higher they rise, the harder they fall and Eileen was horrified when Todd walked out of his exams and decided to move in with girlfriend Sarah Platt. Eileen saw Sarah as a slapper looking for a meal ticket for her and her little girl and definitely not good enough for her Todd. She blamed Sarah for leading Todd away from the path to academia and it all went downhill from there. Eileen's view is that Sarah trapped Todd into a relationship and if that hadn't happened, Todd wouldn't have left town.

Eileen fought with Todd, Sarah and Sarah's mother Gail to no avail. Todd and Sarah were determined to be together. It was one of Eileen's most bitter disappointments. Even the thought of them having a baby didn't really soothe her feathers. It only meant that Todd would be further tied down. She was still genuinely bereft when the baby was born early and died. It was preceeded by the revelation that Todd was gay but Eileen, though surprised, stoutly defended her son to all and sundry, including Jason who initially rejected his brother. When it all hit the fan, and after the baby died, Todd decided he had to leave Weatherfield and moved to London. Eileen misses him terribly but does visit him on occasion.

Sarah then proceeded to pursue Jason and lure him away from that nice Violet Wilson whom Eileen grew to love as a daughter. Sarah led Jason along a merry path of ups and downs but Jason wasn't completely blameless either, having stood up Sarah at the altar once. More fodder for the feud. Both Gail and Eileen seemed to hold the foibles of their children against each other. Eileen was resigned that Jason and Sarah were getting married on the second try. Jason and Todd eventually made peace with each other even though Jason ended up with Todd's ex, Sarah.

Todd even came home to attend the wedding though that marraige was short lived (Eileen was probably the only one that wasn't surprised). Alas, Sarah let Jason down and showed herself up to be immature and spiteful, just as Eileen always believed. She's more relieved than anyone that Jason is finally free of Sarah's clutches. Eileen and Gail will never be friends, and there seems destined to always been a barbed wire fence between them to argue over.
She liked Jason's subsequent girlfriends, Becky and Tina, a lot more but I think Rosie Webster has Eileen rolling her eyes.

Children and Family

She's usually been supportive of her sons' endeavors when she believes it's going to be the right thing for them. When we first met Jason, he was training to be an Olympic athelete hopeful and Todd was still in school. Jason wasn't as academically adept as Todd so Eileen knew he'd have to find his own way in the world. She's generally been behind him with most of the jobs he's had though gets frustrated when his love life has landed him in hot water, more than once.

Not that long ago, it seemed his love life had come back to haunt him when a young woman handed over a baby girl and said it was Jason's. Eileen latched on to the child and tried to do the right thing. She tried to get Jason to do the right thing too and was very hurt when he really didn't want to have much to do with the baby. Eventually, the mother of the baby realized that builder Charlie Stubbs was actually the father and she took the baby back, breaking Eileen's heart at the loss of what she had assumed was her granddaughter.

Todd now lives in London but Eileen takes regular trips to see him and she's always there to help Jason when possible. She even lent him the cash for a downpayment on the flat that he and Tina restored for sale. now it's rubble at the end of the street, we can only hope it was insured!

She discovered that local factory worker Julie Carp is actually her half sister and though it was a rocky road, she and Julie seem to have come to terms with it and are forging a friendship.

Love Life

One of Eileen's downfalls is her lack of self esteem. This is probably what leads her into more dead end relationships than anything. She is tall and heavy set, she knows that she doesn't have much education and she seems to settle for any man that shows her a bit of attention for all the wrong reasons. She doesn't seem to believe she's good enough for a really decent man. A lovely man that Eileen was involved with was Dennis Stringer. Unfortunately he, like most men in her life, had feet of clay. He fell in love with Janice Battersby but his life was cut tragically short when he tried to stop his mate Les from killing himself and ended up dead himself after a car crash taking Les to hospital.

Even the nice guys end up being the wrong guys, often due to circumstances beyond their control. One such man was Ed Jackson, a quiet church-goer that befriended Emily Bishop. He had a lot of baggage but kept it to himself at first. He had amends to make and couldn't talk about it until he'd done that. Turns out he was the man who (accidentally) killed Ernest Bishop. Eileen was more upset that he kept it from her and her friend, I think, than the actual crime. Emily eventually forgave him though it was difficult and Ed left the Street to start somewhere fresh and new.

Another nice man was neighbour Jerry Morton who developed feelings for Eileen while she was glowing under the brazen chat up lines of married taxi cab punter, Pat. yes, again...married man, unavailable. She knew he was, but went with him anyway. She soon realized her error and they finished. After a break in Malta, she started to see Jerry in a new light but Jerry's life was filled with children and obligations and they never had time for themselves. It seemed a no-win situation and she and Jerry decided that platonic was the only relationship that was going to work for them.

Yet another nice guy was Jesse. Jesse was an electrician by day and a children's entertainer by night. He made Eileen laugh but has had issues with mother's apron strings and his attachement to John the Parrot seemed to take priority as well. He seemed to make everything and everyone else a priority over her. He had to go, too.


Years ago, Emily Bishop was the landlady and substitute mum for many a young lodger. Eileen has taken over that role. She's seen quite a few young folks take refuge under her roof especially over the last few years. Violet Wilson was one of the first of Jason's girlfriends to share his room in Number 11 but not the last. Becky Granger has been in residence as has Tina McIntyre and most recently, Rosie Webster.

Sean Tully came along and has turned into a long time lodger on a bed in the front rarely-seen room. Vi's sister Lauren stayed for a short while as well and Sean's former boyfriend, Marcus, resided under the Grimshaw roof as well. Other short term guests included Steve McDonald on a temporary break from his now ex-wife Karen. Eileen has a lot of love to give and since her own lads have needed her less, it spills over to her lodgers whom she takes under her wing.

For the longest time, Eileen didn't really seem to have that many women as friends. She was friendly with the ladies on the street but the girly nights out or advice sessions over a pot of tea or bottle of wine were few and far between. Her friends seemed to be mainly men or the various lodgers who have been more like adopted children. Now, however, we see her getting a bit closer to Deirdre and Liz and before that, Frankie Baldwin. It's always enjoyable to see the women in fits of laughter over the foibles of one man or another, passing the wine bottle back and forth and enjoying the supportive company of like minded females.

Eileen's friendship with her bosses, Steve and Lloyd, is just as solid and I think Steve is quite possibly her best friend. They support each other and care for each other (and take the pi$$ out of each other too which is always fun to watch).

Eileen was hugely fond of Ashley and Claire as well, more in a motherly way than in a peer way. She and Jerry helped redecorate their house after a fire and she's often taken the boys under her wing to help out. She and Claire both work at Streetcars and have bonded over the switchboard. 

I really think Eileen deserves a truly nice man that can instill confidence in her, who doesn't drag her down with his baggage, and who treats her like a queen. Jesse wasn't that man and her crush on builder Owen was unrequited and in fact, working for him is going to get her in a lot of hot water. I love Eileen and Sue Cleaver, who plays her. Long may she reign!


Defrost Indoors said...

I love Eileen but I think they've let her character down lately. She used to be quite funny and cheeky, and now she's just grumpy. I'd love to see that (old) side of her come out more, and yes she does need a decent fella!

Tvor said...

Perhaps, as she's getting older, and more stuff has happened to her, that's what is causing her to get grumpy!

Alison said...

Is Eileen Grimshaw related to Elsie Tanner (whose maiden name was Grimshaw)?

Tvor said...

Don't know if Eileen And Elsie are related, it's never been addressed. Grimshaw is a common Northern name but wouldn't it be neat if they were related somehow?

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