Last Night's TV: Coronation Street ITV1, Shrink Rap More4, Placebo BBC3

The Street's still a Lancashire hot spot

One of the immutable laws of soaps is that in episodes screened on bank holidays, at least eight characters will casually allude to it being a bank holiday. Soap episodes are recorded more than a month in advance, which places regulars at the Rovers Return, like their counterparts at the Queen Vic, at a serious disadvantage when it comes to discussing the latest developments in news and current affairs, such as Manchester United reaching the European Cup final or Boris Johnson becoming mayor of London.

That's why everyone in Coronation Street last night kept telling everyone else that it was a bank holiday, reinforcing the illusion that their universe is perfectly parallel to ours. Despite the fact that it was a bank holiday, Ashley "Ah know it's a bank 'oliday" Peacock opened his butcher's shop. His biological father, the late, lamented Fred Elliott, would have been proud of 'im. I say, he would have been proud of 'im. Fred had a verbal quirk inspired by the Looney Tunes character Foghorn Leghorn. He used to repeat, loudly, almost everything he said. "Be 'appy, I say be 'appy." Those were his last words.

Fred was a colourful character of the type that used to abound in Coronation Street but is now becoming scarce, like the red squirrel. One of the few remaining is the marvellously prissy Norris Cole, and yesterday he was on fine form in Ashley's shop, where at 10am he was the first customer, on account of it being a bank holiday. His mother, he told Ashley, had been a paragon of household economy. "She used to save all the nub ends of toilet soap and squash them down into a new bar of perfectly good soap." A wistful pause. "Bit on the slimey side, colours got merged." Then a proud smile. "Ooh, she knew about thrift, my mother. Discarded underpants... first a duster, then a dishcloth, then a floor cloth." Ashley had listened politely, but couldn't resist teasing. "Don't tell me, then you ate 'em?" he said. "Ooh, get away," said Norris.

Never mind the abortions, the arson and the adultery, it is dialogue like this that has set Coronation Street apart since the days of Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell. Incidentally, I was once dispatched by a magazine to interview Sir Cliff Richard for the first of a series of features to be called Out to Lunch. Unfortunately, Sir Cliff's people then sent word that Sir Cliff, worried that he might get hassled in a restaurant, would rather have lunch at home. So I went to his house in Weybridge and the inaugural Out to Lunch was turned into "In for Lunch", which would have been bad enough, except that no sooner had I arrived than Sir Cliff's manager informed me that Sir Cliff never actually eats lunch, so the inaugural Out to Lunch ended up as "In for Coffee and Jammie Dodgers", and he didn't even have a Jammie Dodger. You might be wondering what this has to do with Coronation Street. Well, Sir Cliff told me that he gave up eating lunch on the day in 1964 that Minnie Caldwell referred to "that chubby Cliff Richard". There's the power of soap, longer lasting than even Norris Cole's mother managed to contrive.

Speaking of long-lasting, let me add homage to Betty Williams, the former Betty Turpin, played by Betty Driver. She was pulling pints behind the bar of the Rovers last night, looking exactly as she did in 1994, 1983 and 1975. Afterwards I looked her up on the internet. She'll be 88 this month, the very definition of an old trouper.

Another octogenarian actor popped up on Shrink Rap, being interviewed by the clinical psychologist Pamela Connolly. This was Tony Curtis, who was ageing as well as Betty Driver until he had pneumonia last year and fell briefly into a coma. Now he looks terrible, like the young Tony Curtis made up with prosthetics to look 150. For those of us who grew up watching him punch thin air in fights with international jewel thieves in The Persuaders, let alone those who saw him first time round in The Defiant Ones and Some Like It Hot, it was a sad spectacle. But it was an affecting interview. One day, 12-year-old Bernie Schwartz, growing up in the Bronx, told his younger brother Julius not to hang around with him. Julius followed a marching band instead, was hit by a truck and killed. Bernie was sent by his parents to identify the body. Later, Bernie became Tony Curtis, but in his heart, more and more, he's just Julius Schwartz's big brother.

Placebo was a comedy pilot set in a hospital, where a drug to ease anxiety is being tested on male volunteers. It was Only When I Laugh with lots of swearing, and jokes about acne, urine, erections, Ann Widdecombe and penis seepage (one man wanted to know whether penis seepage means that your penis seeps, or that you seep penises). A series will almost certainly follow.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas