Fashion Heroine: Elsie Tanner, the Original Coronation Street Siren.

A celebration of Elsie Tanner, Coronation Street Siren and my  fashion heroine.

Now if you’re under 35 and reading this, or some nationality other then British, or perhaps you’re just a bit daft, simply stop now and go to Google. Type in Elsie Tanner then come back.

And for the rest of us… my second favourite documentary ever ever, is The Women of Coronation Street (my first being, John’s Not Mad, the story of a teenage Scottish Tourettes victim who spits at food). But in this, my second favourite documentary ever ever, they focus on the various characters in the ‘Street’ the Deidres and the Mrs. Walkers, the Bet Gilroys and so on. In one bit, the local painted lady and thrice divorced or thereabouts Elsie Tanner has received some mysterious note from an unknown sender; it bangs on about her immoral conduct, unusual fondness for a peignoir in daylight hours, that kind of thing. I think there’s an affair with a married man as well.

Cut to Elsie in her filthy kitchen reeling about said letter and stabbing a ciggy hard into an ashtray. Her black satin blouse is rolled up ‘workwear style’ to upper arm and her black mid-calf-ish pencil skirt is worn tight with heels and earrings; her beehive (conker rinse in later colour clips) is lacquered and armour and high.

Cut to street. Elsie reckons it’s that Ena Sharples who’s written the damn letter, the old cow, the moth-eaten evangelist and self-appointed barometer of Christian standing in one of Manchester’s sootier suburbs. There’s a ‘do’ brewing and no mistake. The two meet outside number 30. They could be dogs circling each other. It’s electric. The dialogue crackles and they speak fast. Elsie Tanner v Ena Sharples. Forget your Pat Butcher versus your Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders, or Alexis v Krystal on Dynasty, this is proper northern street scrap stuff. Elsie looks immaculate and hard. I’d like to be like her, next time please, God.

As seen in the current 10 magazine.


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