Last Night's TV - Coronation Street, ITV1; The World's Fattest Families and Me, Channel 4

Back on the sunny side of the street

If I lived in Weatherfield, I would never get out of bed on a bank holiday. Christmas Day is deadliest: there have been more heart attacks, car crashes, suicides, murders, drownings and electrocutions over the Christmas period than most of us have had turkey dinners. But on May Bank Holiday, too, it is well worth cowering under the duvet in case the Grim Reaper calls – not that these tactics did poor Blanche any good. In last night's
Coronation Street, she snuffed it in her sleep, somewhere in Portugal.

In truth, this was not unexpected, since the actress who played her, Maggie Jones, died some time ago. But it was jolly unexpected for Blanche's daughter, Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride), who promptly filled up like a reservoir high on the moors in winter. Nobody sobs quite like Deirdre, and heaven knows she's had plenty to sob about down the years. Being married to Ken, twice, is not even the half of it.

Mercifully, I made it to the volume control just before Deirdre started crying, which is a noise like a combine harvester starting up. The circumstances of Blanche's death then unfolded. She had gone to Portugal with her friend May, but blow me down if May hadn't come home weeks ago, and last night she dropped round to speculate that Blanche had stayed on in the sunshine with an "interior motive", having met a chap called Arnold. For those of us with long Weatherfield memories, this rang alarm bells. Emily Bishop was the last Coronation Street biddy to be swept off her feet by a chap called Arnold, about 30 years ago, and he turned out to be a bigamist. Surely this Arnold couldn't be that Arnold?

More to the point, how could anyone fancy Blanche? "It's not like she was sweetness and light 24/7" sniffed Deirdre, which would have brought the house down had anyone been in the mood for laughter. Evelyn Waugh once observed, on hearing that doctors had removed a benign tumour from Randolph Churchill, that it was a typical triumph of modern science to take out the only part of Randolph that wasn't malignant. In that respect, if in no other, the late Blanche Hunt merited comparison with Randoph Churchill. May, however, reported that Portugal had brought out Blanche's benign side. "With the sun on her specs and the breeze in her slacks, she was a different person."

With the sun on her specs and the breeze in her slacks ... has any soap ever been as gloriously written as Coronation Street? Last night's laurels go to Jonathan Harvey, who was a playwright of considerable renown before taking the Granada shilling. He once admitted that he resisted their overtures at first, thinking that Coronation Street was beneath him, but in fact, it's precisely the other way round; he's proved that he's up to it. Besides, who wouldn't want to join a list that already features Jack Rosenthal, Jimmy McGovern, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Russell T Davies and Kay Mellor?

Anyway, Harvey last night had to wrestle with a classic Corrie counterpoint. When tragedy is brewing in one corner of the street, you can be sure there's pure comedy being distilled somewhere else – here it was in the travails of Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden), being kept prisoner at a cottage in Brontë country by loopy Mary (Patti Clare). Mary is a competition nut, and had set herself the ultimate challenge of winning Norris's hand in marriage. But by the time she had cut off the phone lines, trod on his glasses and tried to tend his sprained ankle by massaging his inner thigh, Norris knew that he was starring in a re-run of Misery, with him as James Caan to her Kathy Bates. "Would you rather be buried alive or bleed to death, Norris?" she called, as he limped down the stairs. He stopped, stock still. "No more than 30 words," she added. "First prize a week in Dracula country."

I love Coronation Street's occasional excursions into high farce. When EastEnders tries it you'd do anything not to watch, from cleaning the lavatory to disembowelling yourself with a rusty coathanger. But Corrie's parallel reality has always been inclined to deviate from the straight and narrow, and never more so than in a general election week. Nobody's talking Brown, Cameron and Clegg in the Rovers, and even though it's several weeks since these episodes were recorded, this seems like a missed opportunity. Maggie Clegg was Betty Turpin's sister, who adopted Betty's illegitimate son Gordon, which surely makes the Liberal Democrat leader a distant relative.

Another slight implausibility about Corrie struck me last night. Where are the really fat people? You would bet your last cheesy Wotsit on there being some serious blubber in a real back street like that, yet you have to go to Kevin Webster's garage to find the really big spare tyres. The reason this occurred was that I also sat through The World's Fattest Families and Me, in which Mark Dolan, the poor man's Louis Theroux, travelled from Tonga (how nice to find a topic that demands a trip to the South Pacific) to Mexico to the United States, in search of the morbidly obese. He found them, too, not least in Los Angeles in the 46-stone form of 32-year-old Michael, who underwent radical gastric surgery to help him lose weight. "I want to do something I've not done in the last nine years," said Michael as he prepared to go under the knife, "and that's dance." Sweet.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions