The Jury is Out

Coronation Street – Double Episode Review – Friday 17 October 2014

The day has come for Roy to make the pilgrimage to Blackpool to scatter Hayley’s ashes. As he prepares himself, he browses their photo album, resting on a picture of his wife with the toy elephant she won there.

Life can be hard, and there are times when, if not its joys, then its important days such as this are tarnished by some ill wind. We have no control over this. However, in the domain of fiction, we can choose to spare our beloved characters these unwelcome woes.

Why then, on this most sacred of days, is Roy, standing already desolate outside the café above which he lives alone, Hayley’s ashes beneath his arm, assailed by a gang of ne’er-do-wells? This scene troubled me. I felt it to be unnecessary and inappropriate in the circumstances.

If its purpose was to increase our sympathy for Roy, there was surely no need. Portrayed with the usual brilliance we’ve come to expect from David Neilson, it was heartbreaking enough to watch him return to the scene of their paddle in Blackpool declaring how a brave Hayley braced the cold waters and led frightened Roy by the hand. “It was ever thus.” he tells Fiz and Tyrone. “I made a promise that day that I would return and take to the water. I will not be alone.” To hear him announce “I must say, it does feel rather exhilarating” made me feel such pride for Roy, and not in a patronising Fiz way; it was actually a relief to hear Tyrone remind her, “He’s not six years old” in a later scene.

However, as Roy prepares to choose a place to scatter Hayley’s ashes, an encounter with a couple sharing the day together makes him feel that what has passed can never be recaptured. “This is no more the Blackpool of 12 months ago than this is Hayley” he pines, and announces that this is one request he cannot accede to. In the meantime, his flat is broken into and ransacked.

Roy attributes the crime to the gang on the corner, but I cannot help feel that it is the chosen storyline that has done him a disservice. While there may be a higher purpose to the plot, as he encounters his destroyed photo album and flattens out the picture of Hayley earlier perused, the whole thing just feels so wrong. With the police gone and Jason having fixed his lock,Roy barricades himself into his home, holding on to Hayley’s ashes and facing what for me is a struggle too far.

Meanwhile, at the Rovers, Liz’s prayers are answered when Tony strides through the door. However, while the chemistry between the pair is evident from their eye contact across the bar, with neither prepared to apologise, the rift remains.

Audrey’s accusations of shoddy workmanship on her car are a delay tactic to prevent her having to return to driving. However, Luke takes customer service above and beyond by bringing her for a drive in the scenic countryside and treating her to lunch.

If your son was on trial for murder, or your friend had been the victim, would you honestly want to sit in the gallery with Norris Cole munching on humbugs and making smart remarks? Without Mary present to entertain his insensitive musings, he seemed somewhat out of place.

As the trial reaches its final day, Chris Gascoyne continues his stellar performance. Unable to take his eyes off Carla and announcing that he still loves her, he conveys brilliantly the very essence of Peter Barlow; a flawed and very human character who balks at his own moral bankruptcy thus proving himself a good man at the heart of it all. Speaking of his weakness, his flattered ego, and the escapism the affair brought him, he is also sure to tell the court he cared too much for Tina to do her any harm. His pain at her murder is clear as he convincingly points out, “It’s not in me”.

Court hubbubs abound when he tells the prosecution he’d been trying to get Tina out of his life for months, and describes himself at being at breaking point on the night of the murder, but these indiscretions, I feel, won’t be enough to see him go down.

The defence’s main argument for Peter’s innocence is his eagerness to get to Carla before Tina did on the night in question, thus indicating that she was still alive. However, the prosecution consider this act to be a smokescreen in order to cover up what he’d done.

As the prosecution sum up, puns concerning bookies, odds and spread betting abound, and the barrister warns the jury, and anyone else listening, “Do not let Peter Barlow seduce you”, a tall order considering how many have failed to resist him in the past.

The defence summation follows, highlighting the illogical leap from committing murder to confessing “damning and humiliating details that only Ms. McIntyre would have known” to his wife. With the leap yet to be credibly accounted for, the idea of Peter’s confession to Carla being an elaborate smokescreen is roundly discredited by the defence. The barrister, played very convincingly by Claire Cage throughout, confirms that “not a single piece of evidence says otherwise”. And she’s right. With no fingerprints on the missing charm and no blood on his coat despite claims that he concealed the murder weapon beneath it, she points out that when the murder was committed, “Mr. Barlow was elsewhere, telling his wife the truth”.

The judge, addressing the jury, reminds them that they are not judging Peter’s character, but deciding whether there is sufficient evidence that he committed murder. They’re reminded that if the evidence heard does not make them sure, then they must find him not guilty. Further, the verdict must be unanimous.

This being the case, there is no way to my mind that he can be found guilty, but all will be revealed in the coming days after what has been a gripping week in court.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes


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