Coronation Street – Double Episode Review – Friday 27 December
Leanne is unhappy at Nick’s decision to tell Norris the truth about her injury. With Gloria and Stella afraid to leave her alone with him, Nick agrees that nobody can be sure he won’t hurt her again, not least himself. He suggests he move out, but they agree that Leanne will move in with Stella instead.
Fresh from the slammer, Kylie apologises to Tina, but after overhearing Max tell David he’d rather play than look for her, she spends the day wandering. As she argues with Anna in the café, she gets a powerful dose of perspective from Hayley who demands to know what she wants from life. “If it’s a cry for attention, then take it from me, nobody cares” she tells her, and reminds her of how blessed she is. “I could weep”, Hayley cries, at the time she has wasted. The fact that this seems to have had little impact on Kylie makes her intensely less likeable. When she finally goes home, she tells David she doesn’t give a toss if he stays or goes.
Jealous Michelle looks on as Andrea wows the lads with her darting skills at the Rovers. Andrea’s lovely personality makes Steve’s worse half come across even more repellent than she has in recent times. She knows Michelle doesn’t like her despite Steve trying to convince her otherwise.
Even though Maddie admits to stealing Sally’s bag, Sophie irritatingly tells her incredulous mother to give her a break. Tardy Tim’s bargain chocolates fail to appease Sally who remarks, “Christmas just gets better”.
While everyone in Weatherfield has a wish, Hayley’s is the simplest of all, and puts the rest in perspective; to see daffodils blooming in spring. “The things my brain is dredging up these days” she tells Roy. It’s poignant that the most beautiful and ultimately important thoughts are buried in favour of those which are inane or insignificant in the wider scheme of things, and we feel privileged to witness Roy reading Wordsworth’s poem to her. After a perfect Christmas, she runs to the window, childlike, in the hope that the snowmen are still standing, but the symbols of her and Roy’s togetherness, have sadly disappeared.
She wants to book a trip where there are dancing flowers, “tossing their heads in a spritely dance”, and the simplicity of such a wish, and the ease of its achievement for others, inspires reflection. Despite her optimism, Hayley and Roy are sadly told she only has weeks to live. The measure of her character is found in the dignity of her response, and the heartbreaking humbleness of her parting words at the doctor’s office; “we’ve taken up enough of your time.”
Christmas becomes a metaphor for life as she observes, “Pity it has to end. I suppose if it went on forever it wouldn’t be so special. We wouldn’t cherish it so much. Still, it’s not twelfth night yet”. She insists on going to the pantomime, but breaks down in the lobby. Roy, a pillar of strength for her throughout, takes her home. As her anger comes to the fore, first with Kylie, and then in the apartment as she knocks the Christmas tree to the ground, she offers a dark commentary on the futility of life’s concerns; “The stuff that’s supposed to matter, it’s just all of us whistling in the dark so loud you can’t think, you can’t stop, just keep treading water until you can’t and then it’s like you were never here in the first place”. Roy reminds her of how much she’s loved, and she dissolves in his arms as she cries, “I’m not even 50, it’s not fair, I’m not ready”. It’s an extremely powerful scene with tremendous performances from Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson, and a wonderful script by Chris Fewtrell.
As the tears subside and the tree is restored, a calm Hayley reneges on what she considers harsh words, and tells Roy that loving him has made her life worthwhile. Roy, with his relatively new found and sublime ability to articulate his feelings, tells her “you have turned an apology of an existence into a life fuller and more joyous than I could ever hope” and cites her as his reason to believe in angels. Hayley painfully describes how she could drown out the ticking clock up to now, and breaks down when she tells how every heartbeat is taking her further away from Roy and everything she knows. Roy’s words are themselves poetry as he assures her, “I’ll always be here at your side. It’s the only place I can be, where I’ve ever belonged. We shall face this together.”
Such scenes are demonstrative of Coronation Street at its very best. Characters such as Hayley and Roy are sadly not often found on our television screens, and this episode shows their immeasurable value, and clear need for them. Hayley, the embodiment of honesty, goodness, integrity and kindness, speaks of her heart, each beat of which not only brings her closer to her departure from Roy, but from our lives too, and she will leave a huge void that must be filled if this heart is to continue beating at the core of the street.
By Emma Hynes