Monday 15 October 2012

An old mystery solved and a potted history of Irma Ogden

In early 1964, Sandra Gough began playing Irma Ogden. She stayed in Corrie until 1968 when David Rothwell, who played her husband on screen, David Barlow, wanted to leave. He'd delayed his departure because he knew the producers would also write out Sandra if he left but she agreed and went.

In 1970, the producers wanted to bring the couple back but only Sandra said she'd return. They had David along with their little boy die in a car crash in Australia where the characters had emigrated and brought Irma back to Coronation Street. It was up and down for the character and in 1971, the character just disappeared off screen, apparently claiming illness. She returned briefly and left again later that same year and the publicity hit the newspapers that Sandra Gough was fired though she was quoted as saying "I was taking more and more time off, hoping that they would sack me. I was sick of being Irma. It was driving me mad."

Recently, during the new seasons of The Corrie Years featuring ex-Corrie actors and what happened to them after they left the show, Sandra Gough admitted she'd left Granada high and dry, walking out after she'd asked repeatedly to be written out of the show to no avail. She felt bad for doing it but was apparently dealing with her mother who had a serious illness. She admitted she did call her bosses and said she wasn't coming back but the media didn't get that message and it was all a bit mystery at the time.

Now that the mystery is solved, here's a bit of a history of Irma Ogden Barlow:

Irma was one of four Ogden children. Her name was originally Freda but she changed it, thinking Irma was more glamourous. She left home at 15 due to her father's tendency to violence. She arrived in the Street early in 1964. Her family's rough reputation preceded their arrival a few months later.

Irma was cheeky and lively, with shocking red hair and a lot of it. Her hair seemed to have a life of its own later in the 60s and into the 70s! Come to think of it, flame haired Elsie Tanner's locks were much the same. She worked for Florrie Lindley in the corner shop, and later for Lionel Petty when he bought it from Florrie. She fell for local footballer David Barlow. They got engaged during a Street day trip to the Blue John mines in the Peak District and they married after a short engagement in 1965. They eloped but their secret was discovered and they returned home to a surprise reception in the pub.

After David sustained an injury, Irma talked him into buying the corner shop. But shop work was boring for Irma and she got a job in the new PVC factory on the Street, leaving David to struggle on without her until she got fed up with that, and came back to the shelves of the corner shop.

Irma had a miscarriage and decided it was a sign she couldn't have children, a huge disappointment for David. They fostered for awhile and then David returned to the world of footie, albeit as a coach for an all-women's team. This led to David's re-entry into the sport as a player when he had the chance to play for a team in Australia. They made the decision to emigrate and sold the shop to Maggy Clegg and moved.

Two years later, David and Irma had a little boy but Ken got a phone call, saying David and their son were killed in a car crash. Irma was persuaded to return to Weatherfield with the financial assistance of bookie Dave Smith. Stan wangled a 30% share in the shop for Irma by using money that Dave Smith helped raise for Irma's return. Irma went back to the shop and worked to pay Dave back. She battled depression, both hers and Maggy's. She was even at the centre of a hostage plot when former boyfriend Joe Donnelli confessed that he'd murdered Elsie Tanner's ex-husband Steve Tanner. Joe held Irma hostage at one point and later holed up in Minnie Caldwell's house. Stan managed to get Joe to let Minnie go but when Stan entered the house, a shot rang out. Joe killed himself.

Months later, Irma left Weatherfield suddenly, contacting Maggy afterwards to sell back her share of the shop. We never saw Irma again though she did send a telegram to her mother when Stan died.

Irma was always up for a laugh, loved to have a good time. Her family, the Ogdens, were the Battersbys of their day. Rough and ready, common as muck, loud and obnoxious at times. Stan was a heavy drinker in his day and tended to violence. Irma hated that her mother put up with it. Two of the Ogden children had been taken into care and never did appear on the Street. The youngest, Trevor, was a real tearaway. She knew she didn't want the life her mother had and thought being a football wife was her ticket up and out. It didn't work out as she thought it would but she made the best of it anyway.

Losing David and her son devastated her but she tended to keep her troubles to herself.

After leaving Corrie, Sandra Gough made a name for herself with a well known part in Emmerdale.

Here's a You Tube video with the episode where Stan and Hilda first appeared. You can see Irma from 2:39 in as she tells Elsie a bit of background about her family and later, Ena tells Irma the history of the house that the Ogdens are thinking of buying.

Thanks to the Coronation Street Wiki entry on Irma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sandra Gough should come back to the "street".After all they let Dennis Tanner back.

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