Last night’s Coronation Street saw the return of Pat Phelan, who is surely one of the most despicable characters in the entire history of the show.
When Phelan last appeared, he blackmailed Anna Windass into having sex with him in return for not having her son, Gary, charged after he lamped him one. It was a grim, grubby, thoroughly depressing storyline that never rang true, and it was a relief when Phelan was written out at its conclusion.
For reasons beyond comprehension, Phelan is back, and has been reintroduced in a very odd fashion. Our first sight of him was at the viaduct arch that’s being converted into Kevin Webster’s new garage, his face covered by protective gear. It could only have been more hilarious if they’d gone for the classic shot so often used for a returning “sexy” female character, and Phelan had slinked out of a Street Cars cab in high heels and a miniskirt.
Kevin has recently started mingling, in a friendly manner, with Anna, so there’s lots of potential for drama there. And it’s a common soap trick to bring back a popular villain and slowly introduce viewers to their “softer” side, so you can just about see where they might try to go with this – especially if it’s done in a subtle way and they can introduce some genuine light and shade to the character.
HOWEVER. That’s not what happened here. Pat and Kevin immediately and inexplicably became good friends, and were walking down the Street enjoying a bag of chips together when they spotted Carla Connor hanging out the side of a car being driven by two wrong ‘uns who’d just tried to do over the Bistro. Pat swiftly ditched his dinner and leapt into action. Yes, they actually dared to immediately give the awful Phelan a hero shot, jumping in front of the car to stop the thugs escaping.
This excruciating incident bore an unfortunate resemblance to the legendary moment in Happy Days when the Fonz jumped the shark, an event which came to symbolise the exact moment a TV show goes completely and utterly to shit.
Never mind jumped the shark – this will forever be remembered as the episode when Corrie chucked the chips.