A Herculean Task

Coronation Street – Episode Review – Wednesday 4 February

Every time I see Chris Fewtrell’s name appear in the opening credits, I know that it’s going to be a special episode of Coronation Street, and tonight’s was no exception. His scripts are always animated with special and interesting little details, and when it comes to moving scenes, his words are poetry.

They lend pathos to the drama involving an upset Faye and supportive Craig as she stays out of school to escape classmates mocking her weight, and a downtrodden Steve who struggles to verbalise his feelings to his counsellor. There’s humour to be found in Norris’s dialogue as he comments on “soap dodging pseudo intellectuals who want 10% off with their student’s union card” and asks of Kevin, “where would the world be without horny handed sons of toil like yourself?”

However, the most welcome and fitting aspect of having Chris write tonight’s episode, in which Roy decides he is ready to scatter Hayley’s ashes, is the fact that he has penned some of the most beautiful scenes centering on the couple including their trip to Blackpool, their last Christmas together, the episode where Hayley ended her life, and Roy’s return to Blackpool with Fiz and Tyrone when he couldn’t face saying his final goodbye.

Only Roy could connect Tyrone joking about finding Opal Fruits during a garage clean up with Greek mythology, in particular the fifth labour of Hercules in which he cleans the Augean Stables with the help of two rivers. There is more than mythology to this tale however, as Roy faces his own trial in the form of reconciling himself with Hayley’s passing and his own future. Hercules triumphed in one day, and Roy is no different.

Tyrone suggests an overhaul for Woody, but Roy wants it sold, as “it’s a prop from a story that’s over.” Poetry indeed, and beautifully recited by the wonderful David Neilson.

He then receives an invitation to visit Sinead, and while he’s apprehensive, such is his strength of character that he still goes. His talk of locomotive magazines and History Today as he presents a selection more to her taste make him sympathetic and infinitely loveable. Calling him gentle and reasonable, Sinead apologises for not making allowances for what he had gone through with Hayley when she was shocked by his show of violence. Ever humble, Roy says she was right to condemn him, and makes it clear that he “would never invoke Hayley’s death in order to gain forgiveness. I betrayed her as much as I did myself that night, let her down in death as much as I did in life.”

Sinead, clearly sympathetic, acknowledges that she’s not in Hayley’s position but through experiencing Chesney’s dedication can appreciate how Hayley must have felt when Roy held her hand and looked after her over all those months. She rejects Roy’s response, that he failed Hayley, on the grounds that he relegated everything he believed in so that her last wish could be fulfilled. “It must have meant everything to her to know that you loved her that much” she insists, “I know she wouldn’t want you feeling guilty and punishing yourself, she’d want you to go out and live your life for the two of you, ‘cos wherever you go, she goes.” It’s a wonderful and moving scene for so many reasons.

After his revelatory visit, Roy is delighted and relieved to find that Tyrone and Carla not only ignored his wishes and restored Woody, but have found Hayley’s driving gloves in the dash. After revealing that he’s ready to scatter Hayley’s ashes, he tells them how someone reminded him that Hayley doesn’t reside there and opened his eyes to the fact that his great mistake has been to cease putting Hayley’s wishes first. His contemplative demeanour has an air of quiet determination as he commits to living his life as she would have wanted.

Steve leaving repeats of Who Wants to be a Millionaire behind to visit his therapist, Tyrone and Kevin cleaning up the garage, Carla and Tyrone joining forces to restore Woody, Hercules washing the stables clean, Sinead showing she was big enough to apologise and telling Roy what he needed to hear, and Roy deciding that it’s time to live as Hayley would have wanted him to are all connected. While some of these incidents may appear more trivial than others, they all involve moving away from past ways of being, acting or living in the hope of a better future, and their combination in one beautifully written episode is a joy for someone like me who loves well crafted drama with a message for us all.

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes

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