Wednesday 9 March 2016

Gobby Mares

Since the mid-nineties at least, there has been a growing tradition of bringing in new female characters (sometimes male, but mostly female), described as "gobby". They are rude, mouthy and somewhat aggressive, not very likeable and many have often stayed the course and become characters that most of us grew to love, or at least tolerate. There were a few prior to that time period but they weren't as frequent. They tended to be more blunt-speaking rather than someone you might call "gob-almighty" though Vera Duckworth came pretty close.

I know I'm going to miss some but the more memorable ones of the last 20-some years include:

Leanne Battersby. Leanne arrived with the rest of her obnoxious family, shortly after her step mother, Janice, was introduced as a machinist. As far as gobs go, all four of the Battersby family members didn't have a Halt button on their tongues. Toyah was probably the least aggressive but she could give as good as she got. Leanne is the character that has managed to stay the course, with a few gaps in service, to become a great character due to Jane Danson's excellent performances over the years. Leanne can still shout down an opponent in an argy-bargy but she's matured and softened a bit. I like that Leanne often still has that bolshy attitude and isn't afraid to stand up to anyone.

Janice Battersby was one of the gobbiest and in fact, that was the nickname Danny Baldwin gave her. Janice had no concept of discretion. If a thought formulated in her brain, out it came, regardless of tact or lack thereof. She'd insult and offend without a thought, even those that were her best mates. It's amazing that they kept forgiving her over and over! Her mouth got her into trouble and sacked many times over the years.

Karen McDonald had attitude to spare. When her gob got her into trouble it was often because it was over something she really didn't know anything about. She was very good at opening her mouth and metaphorically inserting her foot and was often the author of her own misfortune. She pulled herself away from a troubled childhood and a religiously fanatical mother and since she never could live up to her mother's standards, she went in the other direction. She married Steve McDonald for a bet but they fell madly in love. She divorced him so that they could have another wedding and get great presents. She feuded with Tracy Barlow (doesn't everyone?). Her shouting matches with Steve were legendary but in the end, Steve found that she was just too volatile. The last we saw of her, she was pulling her suitcase down the Street, chin up and determined to prove to everyone that they were wrong about her.

Becky Granger McDonald and Kylie Turner were sisters. We met Becky first, with Kylie coming along a few years later and both women seemed to be cut from the same cloth. Self destructive, aggressive and reckless, both of them the product of a pretty lousy childhood, with an addict for a mother. They both lived by their wits on the streets at various times and both of them loved to have a loud, good time. Over their time on the Street, they both mellowed somewhat, but neither character will back down from a confrontation. Becky left the show with a fairy tale happy ending, a new fella and a little boy to love while Kylie has matured considerably with marriage and motherhood but there are still bumps in the road for her, with recent addictions of her own to defeat and the violent killing of former boyfriend Callum Logan in Sarah's defence to deal with.

One of the characters with the loudest and rudest mouth ever was probably Cilla Brown, mother of Chesney and Fiz, who was not short of a measure of attitude herself and still can be quick to mouth off. Cilla was nasty, rude, obnoxious and greedy and married someone just like her, Les Battersby. Both of them would lose a battle of wits with an unarmed person and while Cilla was fun and outrageous to watch, she was probably better in small doses.

One character that has been a gobby mare since she was a teenager is Tracy Barlow. Once puberty hit and her parents divorced, she became a typical teen, with attitude to spare. All that anger she held for her parents flowed off her tongue in the form of insults and general nastiness. It didn't change as she got older and now, nearing middle age, she doesn't have teenage hormones as an excuse. There are not a lot of redeeming qualities to this selfish cow. You can say she loves her daughter and she loves/loved her parents and she does but mostly it's all about her and what she wants and there's no helping anyone that gets in her way.

Carla Connor used to have attitude by the bucket with a gob to go along with it. Over the years, she's been tamed by all her troubles but if her strong sense of self preservation wasn't in place, she'd probably have been either sectioned or dead long ago. Fire, rape, violent fellas, accidents and Tracy Barlow on your back are more than any one person should have to endure.

Anna Windass is another one who doesn't know when to be discreet, especially when she's angry or drunk. She speaks as she thinks but that's not always a good thing and it's not served her well over the years. She can be lovely, maternal and protective and then turn vicious and spiteful with little provocation. To viewers, it seems like loyalty is a moving target for Anna but she will always speak up to defend the ones she loves.
These are just some of the gobby mares we've met on Coronation Street and there are plenty more (Eileen Grimshaw, Tina McIntyre, Beth Tinker, Kelly Crabtree). Many classic characters have had their moments, too. Consider Bet Lynch, Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples, Gail (pick one of her last names), Liz McDonald and Hilda Ogden were never backwards in coming forwards. The difference is that the newer characters tend to have a physically aggressive side in addition to their verbal pugilism, women that are quick to push, smack, and even rage with a sledgehammer or other weapon are becoming more likely to be on our screens these days.

Gobby mares are a long standing tradition and women with big gobs are, if nothing else, never boring!

Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)

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