When it comes to childhood memories, most kids hunker down on Saturday morning watching their favourite cartoons or goofy sitcoms but for me, it has been the ultimate UK soap, Coronation Street to turn to. From childhood to yesterday’s cliffhanger, I have tuned in religiously to watch a multitude of characters land, live out, die and even outlast other characters. There is nothing better than watching those characters treading the cobbles to that famous trumpeted-theme song which now also happens to be my signature ring tone, I’m that addicted.
If you are not familiar with the show, Coronation Street or “Corrie” premiered on December 9, 1960 on UK’s Granada Television Network on ITV and is still going strong. Today, it is broadcast in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Malta, Australia and New Zealand and other countries via satellite and online. To date, it is the longest running soap in UK history and has garnered over 111 television awards thus far, the most handed out in their category. Remarkably, some of the characters and plot lines figure prominently right up there alongside some of the major headlines in UK newspapers and magazines with campaigns to rescue the possible demise or injustice to a Corrie character.
It comes as no surprise to learn that many American actors such as Dustin Hoffman and the late Sir Laurence Olivier were also huge fans of the show. The exceptional calibre of acting rivals that of any Broadway or West End drama. Landing a cameo or small part is considered a huge feather in any actor’s cap and many famous celebs have walked the cobbles such as: Ian McKellan, Ben Kingsley, Robert Vaughan, Joan Collins, Geoffrey Palmer, Patrick Stewart, Paul O’Grady, Pete Postlethwaite, Joanna Lumley and even Prince Charles. The show’s dialogue is renowned for the identifiable Northern wit, poignant characters and story lines.
You also won’t hear the fake clap-clap shoe sounds on linoleum pretending to be an exterior location as in most American soaps though. Not everyone is dressed in designer garb living in mansions in some rich hamlet. The premise focuses on reality in visual appearance and architecture, where Victorian row houses or small condos provide the visual backdrop for the show. The characters are ordinary folk who might even wear the same clothing in multiple episodes, working in ordinary jobs, interacting with one another on a personal and professional basis with little room to run as the district they reside in is very small. Recently though, the plot lines have become more commercially dramatic to expose more revealing and exploitive subject matter with a few buried bodies besides.
Based in the Northern English fictional town of Weatherfield, or in reality, Manchester/Salford area if you know the dialect “ma luv”; the show has spun a myriad of colourful scenarios that would defy description and logic. Reason being, most of the residents live, work, marry, date and murder one another within a stone’s throw of the Rover’s Return, the local pub which stands as the meeting ground and boozer for the street’s inhabitants. The area is considered to be lower to middle working class with a few toffs (rich folks) thrown in for good measure. The Northern Mancunian cadence is undeniable and the scripts will always include salty humour with rapid-fire dialogue. Weatherfield tries to keep pace with the ever-changing morals of the outside world but manages to retain the cheek and earthiness of Northern small town eccentricities of yesteryear. There are different cultures, faiths, sexualities and economic differences but the close proximity brings a certain bond to tie all these characters together as either an extended family or at worst, enemies.
Into this fray of daily interaction, we sometimes get a peek of fragrances in a supporting role. Of course many are used either as gifts or as an impetus for additional courage but most likely due to licensing restraints, the packaging and flacons are never recognizable which drives fragrance fans a bit batty.
This led me to ponder which Corrie characters would purchase particular fragrances based on their personality profiles, life experience and price points based on their income? As most are low-income earners with the odd full-pocket types, I’ll take a gander and try to put myself in their shoes and mindset because as I like to say, fragrances are our walking biographies .
Here are some profiles and backgrounders to get you started.
Cue Coronation Street theme song:
Rita Tanner (also Littlewood, Bates, Fairclough and Sullivan)
Rita or Rit was once a very popular attractive lounge singer with a big history with the boys in her early days but now as a senior, she works in the Kabin, the local newsagents and is considered the astute but kind matron most turn to in need. Not one to suffer fools lightly, she is quite capable of giving the verbal boot when need be, but always with her head held high.
Rita would definitely be a White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor kind of girl. A star in her own right, this floral mega-hit would sparkle the air in the Kabin mixed with the scent of fresh ink from the Weatherfield Gazette.
Once a publican owner, now a medical secretary and bar hoofer, you could call Liz mutton dressed up as lamb. Think short skirts and cleavage on a mature lady, Liz knows everyone and their business. Not one to stop short at batting her fake eyelashes at a new bloke, she is pretty much game for anything new with a bright-eyed grin and is always up for a good gossip in the Rover’s Return.
As a big personality on the show, she sometimes appears stuck in an 80’s fashion rut replete with glittery hair clip ons. One imagines being overwhelmed with the scent of a slightly aged Giorgio Beverley Hills EDP when you enter her space.
This twenty-something would-be model is both sharp and daft all at the same. She sees herself as a sex kitten and loves to be in the Weathefield Gazette for any kind of publicity. Her fashion sense is a cross between third-rate slapper meets Japanese street-smart Harajuku faux fur bunny, which is totally lost on the locals in Weatherfield.
Now Rosie wouldn’t be one to purchase fragrance, but rather convince an admirer that she just had to have it and something trendy it would be! Think of the gourmand, Prada Candy by Prada for a Lolita kind of girl.
Swarthy and nearly divorced street lawyer Imram has a penchant for pretty ladies and natty suits. He seems to land himself in hot water more than his clients though.
His conquests are increasing in the court and in the bedroom. You may find a bottle of Boucheron’s Japiur tucked next to his briefs, oops! briefcase of course!
Once a lead singer in a cruise-ship band, now resident drama queen, this beauty has encountered so many disasters in such a short space of time but she always finds a bloke to lean on when trouble brews. Black leather jacket over mini skirts is her thing and although she is 40’ish, her figure is still svelte and fashionable.
Now working at the upscale “Bistro”, the only quasi-high end restaurant in the hood, one could imagine sniffing Mugler’s Alien behind the bar while she lightly pulls back her jet black hair and flashes her pearly whites before taking orders.
This late 40’s eccentric with verbal diarrhoea possesses two distinct differing character traits. From controlling borderline stalking behaviour on one hand to a nanny Mary Poppins sunny attitude; one never knows what she will say or do next? Her whinging (English for complaints) of “Mother did and Mother said” can drive anyone to distraction but her overt sense of great passion and romance is undeniable.
Mary probably picked up a tiny bottle of Joy by Jean Patou in her camper travels and impregnates her diary entries with droplets to remind her of great passionate moments, real or imagined.
Octogenerian Ken Barlow has quietly bedded more ladies on the street than the younger strapping lads over the years. As the only Uni-educated character in the early days, he lives on the street in his deceased Uncle Albert Tatlock’s old home but in his mind, fancies himself an author, professor and intellectually streets above the neighbouring fray.
Ken is the epitome of the Grey Flannel man. Or, at least in his mind, a man with a leather chair, book in hand, sherry on the side table next to the plugged-in electric fireplace with the fake crackle.
Pretty teen gone off-the-rails for a bit, Bethany is the daughter of Sarah and granddaughter to Gail. Having lived the life of a groomed pro and after having her day in court, she is still vulnerable yet gaining strength in attitude and perseverance. From platinum pigtails to soft wavy hair, her overall style is urban fun.
You would probably find her in the local café, Roys Rolls with a travel-sized bottle of Calvin Klein Women tucked away in a sparkly Sephora make up kit.
Derelict junkie-mom-on-the-mend, Abi is crawling her way back to civility on the cobbles.
Working as a mechanic in the local garage, her paycheck probably covers rent and a pint or two in the Rovers. You will probably find a nicked bottle of Kat von D’s Sinner in a greasy overall pocket.
Maria Connor (also Sutherland and Duarte)
Hair stylist and local pretty girl Maria moves through life as she is the only person things happen to but when instigated by her, then these things don’t matter; you get the picture. Spontaneous and with few morals, this temptress knows many locals intimately.
I can inhale the setting lotion along with a whiff of Very Irresistible by Givenchy in her hair stylist’s chair.
Moody hair stylist and blue rinse specialist, David Platt has had his fair share of evil criminal behaviour from burying a dead body in his ex-garage, now renovated annex below his mother’s bed to becoming a young grieving widower all before his 30th Birthday. His beady eyes and constant fiendish grin belie a dark sense of humour and cunning that knows no bounds.
As David now works in his Grandmother’s hair salon, Audrey’s, he is surrounded by fashion mags that keep him in the trend loop and would keep a bottle of Sauvage Dior by in his scissor kit.
Gail Rodwell (also Potter, Tilsley, Platt, Hillman and McIntyre)
Gail is a mom, grandmother and widowed to many creepy dead husbands based on her lousy judge of character. She is a long suffering whiner who dotes on her kids who take her with a grain of salt or when pushed by her controlling ways, was once herself pushed down the stairs by her own son. She always forgives though because her family comes first. It appears too many disastrous relationships have left her frustrated and needy.
Ralph Lauren’s Romance would be the understated hopeless romantic scent that she would dab with her forefinger on her pulse points with a dreamy gaze in her eye.
Fast-talking Dev owns the local corner shop, D&S Alahan’s and Kebab shop Prima Doner, in his mind, an empire! His overactive imagination also lends to fancying himself a ladies’ man, a profound golfer and a bon vivant all of which, he is none. He loves to dress up if a lady is involved and wining, dining and bragging are some of his favourite past times.
One can easily imagine Dev stashing his favourite Gucci Guilty Black Pour Homme by Gucci in his cash drawer at the grocer’s for a last minute invitation somewhere promising.
This thirty-something Solicitor and Scotsman, is also a bad boy who manipulates those around him to further his future coffers. Toned, athletic with swagger, as a lawyer he can round up business but also do the dirty without any ethical thought of the repercussions.
Fashionably turned out, Adam wears tightly-fitted suits over a well-toned body and would probably keep a bottle of Boss Intense by Hugo Boss in his briefcase for meetings with clients and clandestine hotel rooms.
Resident fun gay guy with a snappy quip under his comedic belt, chronic loser in love, he divides his time between stitching knickers in Underworld (the knicker factory) and serving up pints and barbs in The Rovers Return.
I could envision Sean snatching that L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme and all the accompanying ancillaries off his bathroom shelf after an hour of primping to perfection in a magnifying mirror wearing a shower cap.
Rough around the edges with a heart of gold, Gemma grew up in seedy Northern English tenements and hostels. Her midriff-bearing crop tops, pound store earrings and belting loud voice belies her rough roots but her eagerness to pull herself into normal society drives her to distraction. Now working at Prima Doner, she feels part of something meaningful but still slips a bottle of wine in her waistband for all to see.
I imagine the smells of lamb kebabs mixed with the sugary/sweet notes of Pink Sugar Aquolina, a half-used gift from an old friend who nicked it first.
Ex-alcoholic, bigamist and deadbeat Dad, Peter is a bad boy trying to turn a new leaf but somehow always seems to fall back into his old ways. Desperate to start anew, one can envision him on his day off, leather jacket, “T” and jeans leaning on his car, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth with a shifty expression.
Dirty leathery Black XS by Paco Rabanne would also probably be in a hidden pocket of a worn leather Harley Davidson jacket.
Family man, Kevin Webster owns the local garage and is one of the boys you will find in the Rover’s Return, pint in hand with a cheeky grin on his face. Always up for a laugh or proper punch-up, Kevin overreacts in most situations.
One can imagine Kevin, in his overalls slapping on some David Beckham Instinct after washing the grease and grime off his face and hands.
Sally Metcalfe (also Seddon and Webster)
When an aspiring shop girl ends up working in a knicker factory, Underworld and simultaneously also becomes Weatherfield Mayor with accusations, you have a woman on a mission to further herself to the aplomb of others. Her self-promotion and presumed intelligence is a constant demonstration she must perform with the illiterate locals who need her guidance and maturity. Most though still see that factory girl with an oversized ego.
Although Sally doesn’t earn much dosh, she does believe in investing wisely in a wardrobe and fragrance to match her imperious demeanour, at least on paper. La Vie en Belle by Lancome would carry that status that she so desperately desires and she would happily brag her perfume is French to anyone who compliments her on it.
Unhinged Jenny Bradley, once on the verge of a meltdown and nearly taking a child with her over a high railing, scratched her way back to acceptance to being co-owner of the Rovers with Johnny Connor, she has certainly come up in the world. Not unlike a cat, she can scratch with venom and purr all at the same time.
Once poor and living in a rooming house, now with money to spare, I could see Jenny splashing out on the Floral/oriental Marc Jacobs Decadence eau de parfum.
The evil pathological Tracey Barlow once murdered someone but got away with it. She would sell her own child, wait, she actually did at one point! to satisfy her immediate needs. Spoiled, narcissistic and ruthless, she keeps others on their toes and us glued to our sets.
Tracey is definitely a Black Opium eau de parfum Yves Saint Laurent vixen. With a snarl for a smile, she knows how to use her feminine wiles in every situation.
Resident fop, Steve ran the Rover’s Return and taxi service, Streetcars for many years but never quite became the man his Mom Liz hoped he would be. Weak, boyish and a tad goofy, Steve’s attempt at manhood never quite makes the cut but his boyish charms do work on a few.
One could easily imagine a bottle of CK One Spray in the glove compartment of Steve’s cab. This would have the dual purpose of spraying for a night out on the town and clearing the air of a sick passenger in the back seat.
Originally introduced as a bad girl, Leanne has walked the cobbles and made a bob or two doing so as a prostitute to marrying a few local men which always ends in tatters. After owning her own restaurant to working in one, she is now a Mom with a baby who was not her fiancé’s, and is also step-Mom to Peter Barlow’s son. Feisty, combative but fair, Leanne’s character can turn on a dime.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find a bottle of Burberry Body tucked away in son Oliver’s baby bag for a freshener before hitting the Rover’s for a pint.
Larger than life, Streetcars employee Eileen is a powerhouse on the cobbles. Snappy, loving and usually too trusting, she has as many enemies as she has friends. Not bashful about pulling out clumps of hair from adversaries, Eileen marches to her own beat, even if she can sometimes be tone-deaf.
One could definitely envision Aileen pulling out her favourite D&G Light Blue, her signature scent that she makes sure everyone knows the name of on holidays, Birthdays and begging-for-forgiveness gifts.
Sultry Carla Conner, owner of Underworld knows fashion, style and sensuality and uses all to her advantage. A beauty that once lived in the rough part of town, this sophisticated lady appreciates the finer things in life and fashion, makeup, bags and shoes all must be expensive and designer.
Carla would probably splash out on a large bottle of Coach of which she also owns several bags which she picked up in Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles on one of her many escapes from stress when she ran Underworld or was involved in a clandestine affair with one of the many men on the street.
To watch Coronation Street online, check out Youtube, Hulu and online sites to get acquainted with the show but Corrie noobs should go back at least year to get to the gist and pace of the show. Hopefully these character profiles will give you a leg up.