Thanks to ITV for this wonderful special on the amazing Blanche Hunt. The following is a transcription of the special as well as the video links below. Enjoy!
For over thirty years, Blanche Hunt has put the world of Weatherfield to rights. With a sharp tongue, gossiping ways, and blunt put-downs she entertained millions. [Blanche Hunt]”I hope it’s not going to keep up a racket – there’s an Agatha Christie on at five past.” [William Roache] “Blanche is the epitome of one of those cantakerous old people who are just brutally honest.” [Blanche to Liz McDonald] “Do you think Ken wants to stare at thongs all day? The man’s an intellectual.” [Chris Gascoigne] “She’s fearless of people, she was completely and utterly unafraid of anybody.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “I might be old, but I’m not deaf or stupid.” [Katherine Kelly] “Devilish.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “Good looks are a curse Deirdre, you and Ken should count yourselves very lucky.” [Anne Kirkbride] “Magnificient.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “Cometh the hour Deirdre, cometh the woman. Cometh Blanche Hunt.” Maggie Jones died in December 2009. [William Roache, at Maggie’s funeral] “We shall miss Maggie, deeply. And now, Coronation Street fans have also said goodbye to Blanche. [Deirdre witnessing Blanche’s funeral turnout] “I thought nobody could stand me mum.” [Rita Sullivan] “You know better than that, love.” Over the next half our, with a little help from our friends we’ll pay tribute to Maggie Jones and one of the street’s most popular characters ever.
1974, and Maggie Jones’ first appearance as Blanche Hunt. [Blanche to Ray Langton] “Mr. Langdon? I’m Deirdre’s mother and I’ve got something for you.” *slap to the face* Right from the start, Blanche was a force to be reckoned with. [Blanche to Deirdre] “That night he were as sick as a cat on bad cockles and stale beer and spent the rest of the holiday in bed.” Maggie may have made her debut as Blanche but she was already no stranger to Weatherfield’s famous cobbles. [William Roache] “Maggie’s first appearance on the street was a very different character. [Early Maggie on Corrie as shoplifter] “Hey, it’s your first time, isn’t it? [Roy Hudd] “She said I played a policewoman, she said I must have been a lousy policewoman because the next time I came back I was a shoplifter.” [Early Maggie on Corrie as shoplifter] “Tell ’em you lost your memory. Oh, I got away with bounds of stuff in the early days with that tale.”
Maggie Jones was born in London in 1934. She married barrister Joe Stansfield in 1971. A marriage that lasted until his death in 1999. [Roy Hudd] “Well of course Maggie had done loads of stuff before she ever got into the street.” Maggie Jones trained at RADA, appearing in many stage plays before making her mark in television as Polly Baraclough in the mining drama “Sam” and in other shows like the detective series “Bullman.” [Tony Singleton, Friend of Maggine Jones] “I watched the mast of these characters as sort of echoing in Blanche. Especially that glint in her eye with a slight smile.” [Damon Rochefort, writer] “I loved to write for Blanche and the producers were always taking the mick out of me because I used to add her to every single episode I used to write because I just found her so funny.” [Blanche to Tracy] “You’re remarkably chipper. Trod on a snail?” [Blanche to Ray Langton] “Just the King of yourself, as usual.”
For twenty years, Blanche and Maggie Jones made occasional appearances on the street, popping in for births, deaths and marriages. [William Roache] “I don’t think it was until the mid nineties or something like that that she came in as the Blanche that we know and love and fear.” [Blanche in Rovers] “Mrs. Hunt as a matter of fact, but I can forgive you for wondering. All the names she’s [Deirdre] had.” [Roy Hudd] “She managed to keep the flag flying for non-politically jokes and lines.” [Blanche in Rovers] “Carnage. It’ll be full of ho-mo-sexuals.[Deirdre] The word is ‘gay,’ Mother. [Blanche] Another word hijacked by hippies and liberals.” [Blanche to Peter] “Those poor cripples.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “You’ve married foreign once, you could have done again and got a shop out of it in the divorce settlement.” [Blanche to Tracy] “You’re never happy. You’re never satisfied.” No one was safe from Blanche’s sharp tongue but she saved her most withering comments for daughter Deirdre. [Anne Kirkbride] “She was a constant source of embarrassment to Deirdre.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “Oh, why can’t you be a proper daughter.” [Blanche to Deirdre] “All your life you’ve settled for second-best.” [Anne Kirkbride on Deirdre] “She’s just used to following her [Blanche] around and apologizing to people most of the time, ‘so sorry about my mother.'” [Liz McDonald in a black dress] “This is for my job interview. [Tracy] What job? [Blanche] Prostitute.” She may have been a thorn in Deirdre’s side, but having Blanche in the same room wasn’t a bed of roses for anyone else either which Ken and Peter found out in a comedy classic from 2009. [Blanche to Peter’s fellow AA Meeting Attendee pouring his heart out] “Can I ask you something? They say that alcohol loosens the tongue. Well, you must have talked ten to the dozen with drink inside ya.” [Chris Gascoigne] “It’s Peter’s AA Meeting, but she kind of stole the whole thing really.” [Blanche to AA Meeting Attendee] “Is there some correlation between how boring you are and how much you drink?” [Chris Gascoigne] “She dared to say things in there, in that meeting, that nobody else would have said.” [Blanche to AA Meeting Attendee] “You ought to get out more. Wait till you try bingo. You’ll hyperventilate.” [William Roache] “Then she started again, going on about our family.” [Blanche at AA Meeting] “Ken recently had an affair with an actress. Oh, it wasn’t Nicole Kidman or Glenda Jackson. She lived on a tugboat. [Ken] It was a barge. [Peter] Is there any wonder why I drink?” [William Roache] It was absolutely classic. [Ken at AA Meeting] “You just had to make my humiliation was as public as possible. [Deirdre] Well, it isn’t exactly the bar at the Rover’s Return. [Blanche] Just as well. This lot would be foaming at the mouths.”
Outspoken, no nonesense and brutally honest, Blanche didn’t suffer fools. And she definitely wasn’t going to be a fool in love. [Jane Danson] “I think over the years she’s had her eye on a few blokes.” [William Roache] “Though she was hard and brutal and honest and all those difficult things, she really was quite a sentimental old thing. Blanche found love in the most unusual of places. [Shows her courtship with Archie Shuttleworth as he sings to her on one knee] Theirs was a match made in the mortuary and Archie the Undertaker stole Blanche’s heart. [Roy Hudd] “When I finished the song, I couldn’t get up. So Ken and everybody picked me up and took me into the house and I was crying you see and Maggie said ‘oh dear, that must have hurt you’ and I said no, it was my mum’s favorite song. [Anne Kirkbride] “Very funny. Because both of them, Maggie and Roy, were just so funny together.” But her newfound happiness didn’t last long as Archie’s eyes started to wander. And Blanche was back on the market quicker than one of her trademark put-downs. [Sue Nicholls] “Poor Blanche was slightly elbowed out of the scenario. I don’t think she ever possibly forgave Audrey for that.” [Roy Hudd] “You know, having Blanche and Audrey both chasing me, well, I felt like a footballer with a couple of birds.” But Blanche bounced back replacing Archie with Willy. Who swiftly replaced her with her granddaughter. One author soon to be con-artist later, and Blanche set her sights on someone much closer to home: Simon’s other granddad, George. [Anne Kirkbride] “Blanche obviously quite fancied George.” [Blanche re George] “Good company. Loaded. I think I’m in love.” [Anne Kirkbride] “And got very dressed up.” [Sue Nicholls] “And the blusher, ha-ha, she got rather too much on, she looked like she’d come out of the toy box.” [Simon Barlow] “Granny Blanche, why’ve you got a funny face on?” [William Roache] “Blanche had a wicked sense of humour.” [Jane Danson] “She painted this picture of just the most disfunctional family you could ever imagine.” [Blanche to George] “This one (Deirdre) she were in prison, I nearly died of the shame. [Peter] You’ve had enough Blanche. [Blanche] Well you certainly have. This one here (Peter) is an alcoholic, you know. [Leanne] I’ll just get you another glass Blanche, one with tea in it. [Blanche] Oh now I’m being told off by the former prostitute! Oh naughty Blanche, naughty.” [William Roache] “And when you hear the Barlow family described in basic honesty it’s not very good.”
After 25 years of flitting in and out of Ken and Deirdre’s lives, Blanche made things permanent in 1999. Suddenly there were three people in this marriage. [Blanche on Deirdre and Ken] “There’s nowt like young love, and that’s nowt like it.” From that moment on, Ken’s life would never be the same again. [Blanche to Ken] “Be a man, Kenneth.” [Anne Kirkbride] “For Ken, yes, I think she was the mother-in-law from hell, definitely. [Chris Gascoigne] “Yeah, she always tried to bring Ken down didn’t she?” [Blanche to Ken writing] “Smells like an anchovy’s jockstrap in here.” [William Roache] “She was always having a go at him.” [Blanche to Ken] “Growling at the rest of us like a demented Kenny Rogers.” [Katherine Kelly on Ken] “See he can be a bit pretentious and a bit uppity and he just needs dragging back down to earth.” [Blanche on Ken] “No husband of mine would get favors at bedtime in that condition.” When Gail’s dad Ted arrived on the street, Ken saw an intellectual equal, but Blanche saw something completely different. [Blanche on Ken in his kimono] “A grown man dressed as a Geisha? Have you gone stark-raving mad?” [Deirdre to Blanche] “Ken is NOT gay. [Blanche] “Just because things seem alright in the bedroom department, you don’t have to be Angela Lansbury to piece this one together.” [Jane Danson] “Of course, Blanche being Blanche put two and two together and made six.” [Ken late for dinner] “Sorry I was so waylaid I got distracted by Rita. You know, I never realized it before but she’s got fabulous skin.” [Malcolm Hebden] “A lot of it was devilment, you know, and there was a lot of devilment in Maggie Jones too.” [Ken to Blanche] “I am not homosexual! [Blanche] Then the cock crew.” [William Roache] “What I love is when I get a script and I see the wonderful Blanche lines I can’t wait to hear Maggie deliver them, and it is always to perfection. [Blanche to Ken] “I have nothing against the gays, Kenneth. I just don’t want my daughter married to one.” [Damon Rochefort, writer] “I think she knew what she was going, um, and of course, Maggie played it magnificently.” [Ken to Blanche] “I have a perfectly pleasant evening in store with an interesting man who has lived life to the full and is a properly rounded human being. [Blanche] Smitten. [Deirdre] *snickers*” There’s only so much a man can take and Ken snapped, snapped, and snapped again. [Damon Rochefort, writer] I’d wrote an episode where he’d (Ken) gone to the pub and had a few drinks. Blanche has her usual go.” [Blanche to Ken] “A man your age weaving about like an old wino.” [Damon Rochefort, writer] “Gives Ken the opportunity to to hit back at Blanche.” [Ken to Blanche] “Shouldn’t you be knitting under a guillotine somewhere?” [Damon Rochefort, writer] “But I think secretly, Blanche would have been glad that Ken had a bit of backbone at that moment. [Ken to Blanche, drunk] “You really are a miserable old bat.” Despite the harsh words, life at No.1 returned to normal. In fact, better than normal. [Ken to Blanche] “I’m extremely fond of you.” *kisses Blanche on cheek* [William Roache] “I felt really quite tearful and I know she did. [Sue Nicholls] “There’s a side of Blanche that you didn’t really see often. And it brought tears to my eyes and it was genuine and she cared for Ken.”
But it wasn’t just Ken’s relationship with Blanche that could be described as explosive. She’d given everyone in the family a piece of her mind. [Blanche] “Is someone going to cook me my tea or am I going to have to report you to help the aged?” Including her grandchildren. [Blanche to Tracy] “Do you think about other folk’s feelings instead of yourself? When she wasn’t fighting with them… [Blanche to Tracy] *slap* “You nasty mouthed little madame.” She was fighting for them. [Anne Kirkbride] She loved her family – fiercely. And she would defend them, to the last breath.” [Katherine Kelly] “The fact that Blanche sits them around this small table and tells them how life is might be the thing that actually saved the Barlow’s.
Round 1: 2003 when Tracy got her hands on Roy, Blanche took on the Croppers. [Blanche to Rita] “Stop her from giving our flesh and blood away to the freak show in the cafe.” And fought for Tracy’s baby. [Blanche to the Croppers] “He (Roy) looks like he should be crayoning something, and you (Hayley), you can call yourself what you like but I’m not letting any fella who wears women’s underwear anywhere near my flesh and blood. [David Neilsen] “I think we did a couple of takes because it was very, very funny. But yeah, the important thing to do is to play it for real and that’s what Maggie always did.” [Blanche to the Croppers] “You’ll get that baby over my dead body!” [Chris Gascoigne] “She was always on Tracy’s side, you know, I think maybe she saw a little of herself in Tracy.” [Roy on Blanche] “Now we know where Tracy gets it from.”
Round 2: 2008 and Peter’s battle was with the bottle. [Blanche to Peter] “You’re too busy pickling your liver and feeling sorry for yourself.” In Peter’s corner – Granny Blanche. [Chris Gascoigne] “She never got off his case. She would chip away at him and chip away at him, anything to stop his old habits and ways, you know.” [Ken to Blanche, re Peter] “I think Peter’s turned a corner. [Blanche] Let’s hope there isn’t a pub on it.” Peter won his fight with the booze but when he hooked up with Leanne, Blanche delivered a killer punch. [Blanche] “An ex-prostitute and an alcoholic. Jerry Springer’d do cartwheels.” [Jane Danson] “It was really hard not to laugh a lot of the time, you know, when you were supposed to keep a straight face. We’d find ourselves saying ‘cut’ and then we’d all just go burst into laughter.”
When she wasn’t sticking her oar into her own family’s business, she took every opportunity to nosy into other people’s. [Blanche to Ken] “I tell you Kenneth, you’d better learn to enjoy other people’s misfortunes or you’ll have a very unhappy old age.” [Chris Gascoigne] “Typical day out for Blanche that she’d really enjoy is to get on a bus and go to the law courts to see somebody put away for ten years.” [Blanche, going to court] “I’m bringing a Jean Plaidy, cause those first few days can be quite dull at a trial.” [Jane Danson] “She was obviously a gossip. I think she loved the drama.” [Blanche at court] “People in wigs, twist things. Ask Danny LaRue.” [Katherine Kelly] “Yeah, I love the idea that Blanche is a regular at Weatherfield court. Just knocks on the door with a flask and some sandwiches. Of all the people to have seen them (Steve and Becky in court) Blanche was probably the worst.” There’s only one thing that Blanche relished more than a juicy court drama and that was a good send-off. [Blanche to Ramsay Clegg] “I’ve been to more funerals this year than you’ve had hot dinners.” [Malcolm Hebden] “That was her favourite thing, was going to funerals.” [Blanche, at Ramsay’s funeral] “It’s a good turn-out compared to some of the funerals I go to.” [Malcolm Hebden] “Just having a poke into somebody else’s life.” [Anne Kirkbride] “They went along there with travelling rugs and thermos flasks and made a day of it.” [Blanche] “Ethel Armitage were buried in a biodegradable coffin made of banana leaves. She didn’t even like bananas, they gave her terrible wind.” [Roy Hudd] “She brought grub home and gave sandwiches to Ken and Deirdre.” [Deidre, with sandwich] “You made even more? [Blanche] “No, I haven’t made any. These are what were left from the funeral. If any were bitten into, I’d threw away.” This got Blanche thinking, what would her own day be like. In a bid to find out, she hosted her own wake. [Blanche to Deirdre] “You’d hardly noticed I’d died. [Deirdre] Well, it’s not easy when the person you’re supposed to be mourning is standing at the bar.” But she didn’t like what she heard. [Blanche to friends] “All I want is a kind word from each of you. Is that too much to ask for?” [William Roache] “The things that were said weren’t very nice and she didn’t like that.”
But Blanche needn’t have worried. She finally got the send-off she would have wanted and it marked the end of an era. [Anne Kirkbride] “The Barlows will never be the same without you.” [William Roache] “We shall miss you as part of the family. You were wonderful.” [Chris Gascoigne] “There’s always the line at the end that you used to have that’s now missing. But you know what, we can all still hear you say it. [Blanche to Peter, putting a thermometer in his mouth] “It’s rectal, but it’s just come from the dishwasher.” Blanche’s legacy will live on in Weatherfield. [Blanche, re Liz] “Too much eyeliner and roots as dark as her soul.” In her wisdom… [Blanche] “In my day, when something bad happened, you stayed at home, got drunk and bit on a shoe.” Experience… [Blanche] “Rickets, TB, rations. Those were the days.” And Advice. [Blanche] “If you’re unsure as to what to say, say nowt.” But Maggie Jones will be missed, hugely. [Anne Kirkbride] “We love you, Maggie.” [Sue Nicholls] “Weep if you must, parting is hell. But life goes on, so sing as well.” God bless Maggie. [Blanche] “Thank you.”
My notes: I never realized how young the late Maggie Jones was. My grandmother’s a good fifteen years older, an avid Corrie watcher also, who says she’d always seen “Blanche” as a lot older than her! God bless.