Michelle Collins’ arrival on Coronation Street a while ago certainly set tongues wagging – and not just because she’s best known for playing scheming Cindy Beale in rival soap EastEnders.
No, the topic that’s set the celebrity news blogs and social networking sites ablaze is her character Stella Price’s less-than-convincing northern accent. Why the brassy blonde couldn’t have stuck to her native Cockney twang is anyone’s guess – but commentators have suggested her accent veers from Yorkshire to even Manchester’s bitter rival Liverpool.
While Stella finds her feet on the hallowed cobbles, I’ve been thinking about my favourite Weatherfield barmaids from down the years. Michelle’s going to have to seriously up her game if she wants to sit alongside these brassy ladies in the show's hall of fame.
Think Rovers barmaid or landlady and you immediately conjure up Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch. The soap stalwart has enjoyed numerous stints on the show since 1966 and has become famed for her proto-Winehouse beehive hair and garish leopard print dresses.
Perhaps the Street’s most famous character of all, Vera enjoyed a three-year stint behind the bar at the Rovers in mid ‘90s, before returning to low-paid employment after husband Jack encountered money problems. Typically comedic rowing ensued between the pair – a relationship which proved a bedrock of the show for decades.
After numerous stints as a barmaid, Liz finally gained control of the Rovers in 2006. In a strange case of life imitating art, Beverley Callard also ran her own pub in real life with on-screen son Andy McDonald (aka Nicholas Cochrane), which has sadly encouraged even more problems than her on-screen boozer, if celebrity gossip stories are to be believed.
Sally Lindsay enjoyed half a decade behind the bar at the Rovers as Shelley in the early to mid-‘00s – and enjoyed her fair share of man trouble in the process. Never afraid to speak her mind, Shelley’s tendency to put her foot in it was almost as bad as her choice of men.
Betty’s been pulling pints and whipping up hotpots at the famous Weatherfield watering hole since 1969 – becoming an absolute Street legend in the process. Loved by viewers despite never really getting major storylines, Betty embodies the character to the point that actress Betty Driver even shares her name in real life. Always ready with a quick quip or withering putdown, the Rovers Return really wouldn’t be the same without her.