Grace Dent on TV: Watching Coronation Street is murder – and not just for the characters

'There were several people I’d cheerily have seen murdered before Tina – how Fiz remains still breathing is a mystery'

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The Independent Online

There’s been a terrible carry-on in Weatherfield this week. A right rum business. Tina’s dead. She fell off scaffolding. You know, Tina? Her that served in the Rover’s, with the spray tan. She wears those beige loose linen cardigans and always has her brows plucked just so. Slim little thing? Like a whippet on its hind legs. She’d have to run around in the shower to get wet, Tina would, but then that’s youth for you.

She was shacked up with Gail’s lad David Platt for a while. No, none of us could quite see that either. David Platt is a terrible scrote. That Gail thinks she’s a cut above – always has done ever since her mother was married to Alf, Weatherfield’s mayor – but she’s never had any control over those kids. I still remember when Eileen and her were fighting on the cobbles in their dressing gowns like navvies.

Gail was involved with Tina’s dad, Joe, for a while too. But he always had a face on him like a damp Tuesday in Lytham as his back was playing up. He ate the Kabin’s entire supply of Nurofen Extra and eventually fell in a lake and drowned. Good riddance, we all said. He was a mardy git. Now I think about it, Tina McIntyre didn’t have the happiest of lives.

And then she gets herself tangled up with Peter Barlow. A bigamist, a boozer, a dictionary definition “right bastard”. We thought she’d have more sense. But that Peter has a strange hold over women. They think they can fix him. He needs fixing, alright, with scissors, like a vet fixes a dog. I still don’t forgive him for showing up at little Simon’s nativity play totally steamboat, shouting the odds. For a committed boozer, Peter is a terrible drunk. Two sniffs of the beer towel and he’s shouting at wheelie bins and doing press-ups outside the Rover’s to settle a bet. Awful. He’s been in rehab. The doctors made a good fist of changing his drinking habits, but they can’t stop him being a tit. They’d need to start his personality from scratch and you can’t get that on the NHS. It makes me furious how everyone lets him off with his skulduggery, a little more tough love, a little less sympathy from Deirdre and, “oh Peter, I’ll make you my special stuffed marrow”. I still don’t forgive him for breaking poor Shell’s heart by having it away with that florist, Lucy.

Let us not forget Peter Barlow married both of them. At the same time! Obviously, Shell was complicit in her downfall. Peter would stay out all night at Lucy’s house then stumble home saying he’d been dealing with urgent nocturnal business at the bookmakers. She’d just coo and make him a sausage butty. What did Shelly think he was doing all night? Tucking the horses up in bed and reading them Black Beauty?

This is the problem with Peter Barlow – I’ve shouted this at my telly for months – no matter what he does, he’ll always find another woman who’ll stomach it. I thought Tina had more gumption. It turns out I was wrong. We’ve watched for months as a secret kiss turned to a full-blown crush, turned to an ongoing dalliance, then eventually to Tina’s tears and ultimatums. Unbeknown to Tina, Peter’s wife Carla was pregnant. Peter never mentioned this. He’d promised to run off with Tina to Portsmouth. “We’d never have got to Portsmouth!” he shouted at her this week as the pregnancy was revealed and a fight ensued, “It’d have been over by Stockport!”

So, the street is in a terrible state at the moment. The police are investigating who might have reason to kill Tina, with the answer being, “who didn’t?” Pre-death, Tina had carouselled around the cobbles making enemies of everyone. It wasn’t remotely in character for her, but all soap fans knew the drill.

The irony is that there were several people I’d cheerily have seen murdered before Tina. How Fiz remains breathing despite her incessant mithering of the recently bereaved loner Roy Cropper is a mystery. If he’d strangled her and argued diminished responsibility not a court in the land would have imprisoned him.

And soppy Maria Connor stays steadfastly un-murdered, despite her stalking campaign against Tyrone Dobbs. I would have strangled Nick Tilsley in his restaurant with my bare hands and left him face-down in one of his “a pint and soup” lunchtime meal deals, and it wouldn’t have troubled my conscience. Instead, they kill off Tina. It’s a world gone mad.

Of course, it’s Rita I feel sorry for. She’s had a terrible year with that 100-per-cent gold-plated wasteman Dennis Tanner. Rita and Tina may have had terse words before Tina died, but Rita was her mother hen. She is the nation’s mother hen. I have known her as long as my own mother. Tina brought Rita’s world a splash of youthful daftness that helped offset the gloom of Norris, Mary and Emily Bishop. My thoughts are with Rita at this difficult time. It’s been a hard week for all of us. I know they’re not real people. I may have given 40 years to this show, but seriously, I could give up any time.