Ken goes postal with a plastic bag
Stacia BriggsTo mark the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street, a whole range of Street-related products are being launched, including Newton and Ridley Ale, Betty's Hot Pot and a Wii game featuring all our favourite characters.Stacia Briggs
To mark the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street, a whole range of Street-related products are being launched, including Newton and Ridley Ale, Betty's Hot Pot and a Wii game featuring all our favourite characters.
The products are the brainchild of ITV Global Entertainment, which has planned a huge marketing drive around the anniversary of its flagship soap. Hotpots will be made by Holland's Pies, Newton and Ridley ale by JW Lees.
Presumably, if the BBC ran advertisements, we would have been deluged with endless product launches for EastEnders' 25th anniversary: The Bradley Branning Mr Potato Head (throw it from a roof and watch it explode!), Ian Beale's Breakfast-in-a-Can, the Arthur Fowler Memorial Garden Bench.
It's one reason to pay our license fee.
Personally, I'm hoping that the new Wii game will be along the Manhunt lines, where an escaped mental patient goes beserk in his community, scything down anyone in his path with a host of weapons, ranging from a machete to a plastic bag ('a one-time execution item', according to the blurb, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase 'a bag for life').
In essence, it would be like when a new producer joins Coronation Street and culls half the cast, but with razor wire and flamethrowers instead of P45s and leaving parties.
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I'd swap Manhunt protagonist James Earl Cash for Ken Barlow, who I have long thought is a man on the edge and on the brink of going a bit Michael Douglas in Falling Down.
Lesser mortals would have gone postal years ago: just look at John Stape, the unremarkable drama teacher who only managed a few months as a bookish, cords-wearing Newsnight watcher before he went native and slept with, kidnapped and held captive Rosie Webster.
Ken is made of sterner stuff. He's fathered three children, adopted another, been married four times, widowed twice, divorced once, had 27 girlfriends and been a teacher, a newspaper editor, a community activist, a trolley collector, a poet and Santa Claus.
Not once has he chained a teenage temptress to his dead nan's radiator, even though Tracy really asked for it.
As the only resident of the Street who owns a dictionary, Ken's cards have been marked since he let everyone in the north down by going to university instead of going down the mines.
After decades of unbalanced relationships with women whose IQ didn't reach double figures, last year Ken watched his only chance of happiness with a woman who was his intellectual equal sale away on a canal boat called, heartbreakingly, 'Utopia'.
Martha was everything Ken yearned for in a woman: she wore floaty, ethnic scarves, used a cafetiere rather than Mellow Bird's instant, listened to Radio Four and watched Japanese films without carping about the subtitles.
Martha gave Ken a kimono, the international symbol of decadence, Ken gave Martha a poem he'd written about her flame-red hair - it was like an episode of BBC3's Desperate Romantics with Ken playing Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the future.
Martha did her damndest to convince Ken that life in a confined space served by a chemical toilet and a camping stove would be preferable to living with Deirdre, to whom intellectualism meant catching the last five minutes of Countdown while poaching a ferret in evaporated milk. Martha was, of course, right.
Ken, however, was and is as spontaneous as a rocket launch: he couldn't even run away with another woman without cancelling the Guardian and the New Statesman, doing the recycling and checking the tyre tread on the Skoda Favorit first.
When push came to shove, Ken walked the metaphorical plank, back into the infested waters of Coronation Street and away from a life of poetry recitals, art exhibitions and freeform jazz sessions with Stephanie Beacham.
The lure of being a 200w lamp in a sea of flickering 40w lightbulbs was too strong - he returned to a lifetime of crispy pancakes and oven chips for tea, alcoholics and murderers as offspring and a wife whose idea of culture is karaoke at the Rovers.
But all that suppressed desire and rage has to go somewhere, and I'm all for it coming out in the form of a slash 'em up on the Wii platform, as Ken goes off-script with a length of wire, a machete, a hammer and a nail gun.
�Other games consoles are available. And other hotpots. And other ales, apparently.
Mum's gone to Iceland auditions
I've always thought that Iceland is the Waitrose to Farmfoods Asda - the place you go when you're really pushing the frozen foods boat out.
Imagine, then, my joy upon hearing that Iceland is launching an X Factor-style search for the new 'face' of Iceland, a role vacated by Kerry Katona and currently held by the nation's favourite/the only one whose name we know off the top of our heads Nolan sister, Coleen.
With the demise of Big Brother, there is a gaping void for people with no talent whatsoever to get their faces on primetime television: and it doesn't get more aspirational than fronting Iceland's new advertising campaign.
As with most things in life, preparation is key.
It would help if you have previously been married to Shane Ritchie, performed on Celebrity Dancing on Ice, had your liposuction procedure filmed, smoked throughout your pregnancies, loudly proclaimed your conviction that gay people 'shouldn't be allowed to adopt children', told Loose Women viewers that if your 15-year-old son passes his GCSEs you'll pay for him to go to Amsterdam to sleep with prostitutes, faced a public battle with cocaine or slurred your way through an interview on This Morning.
Iceland has standards to maintain, after all.
'Coleen is a hard act to follow, so we've decided to turn the spotlight on our customers to give them a chance,' said Nick Canning, of Iceland.
I expect that whoever wins the role will get exactly the same pay packet as either Kerry or Coleen, which will be handy when it comes to financing a huge drug habit, sending offspring to the red light district or funding further liposuction.
The Devil's in the detail: and the washing machine
The Pope's chief exorcist has issued a handy cut out 'n' keep guide to spotting which of your friends and family are possessed by Satan.
Before, we had to rely on guesswork. Now, there's a checklist for us to refer to as we consider whether or not it's time to pencil in a wrestle with Beelzebub's fiendish armies in between getting the tea on and watching Dancing on Ice.
Father Gabriel Amorth, the president of the International Association of Exorcists, believes that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were possessed by demons and that entire towns can be over-run with the Anti-Christ's terrible minions (Colchester, for example).
Far more pertinently, Father Amorth also believes that electrical equipment can become possessed: 'The Devil often reveals his presence through electric devices…televisions, dishwashers, washing machines and even telephones…'
This, frankly, is what I have suspected for a long time. My washing machine has been possessed for years, and not with a desire to do its job quietly, efficiently and without breaking down on a depressingly regular basis.
Once you've checked your electrical devices, it's time to give your loved ones the once-over. Simply answer 'yes' or 'no' to the following questions. Is your friend or relative:
a)Vomiting shards of glass.
b)Vomiting pieces of iron 'as long as a finger'.
c)Speaking different languages.
d)A 'cardinal who doesn't believe in Jesus' or 'a bishop linked to the demon'.
f)Dribbling or slobbering.
g)Reading Harry Potter books ('dangerous because they dabble in the occult and fail to draw a clear distinction between the Satanic art of black magic and benevolent white magic').
If you answered 'yes' to (e), (f) and (g), it is likely you are living in the presence of a teenager, if you answered 'yes' to (c), it is likely you sent your child to private school, if you answered 'yes' to (a), (b) or (d), it's time to break out the Holy Water.
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