Mary Taylor (Coronation Street)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Patti Clare|
|First appearance||26 November 2008|
|Introduced by||Kim Crowther|
|Coronation Street: A Knights Tale (2010)|
|Home||7 Coronation Street|
Mary Taylor is a fictional character from the British television ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, portrayed by actress Patti Clare. The character first appeared on screen during the episode airing on 26 November 2008. Mary's storylines have included: trying to seduce Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) and kidnapping him when he refuses to give her attention, yet later becoming close friends; fighting for Dev Alahan's (Jimmi Harkishin) attention against Julie Carp (Katy Cavanagh) and Erica Holroyd (Claire King); her affair with Brendan Finch (Ted Robbins); and revealing that she gave birth to a son after being raped when she was fourteen years old.
Clare had wanted to work on Coronation Street for some time. She wrote to the casting director requesting her involvement but was refused. She then wrote her own part for the show, a character named Cherise who would have been the sister of Raquel Watts (Sarah Lancashire). The casting department wrote back to Clare rejecting her idea. Clare was offered the role of Mary in September 2008 and Mary was billed as a "oddball competition winner". Mary was initially intended to be a guest role for five episodes. But the character's one-liners were well received by viewers and her time on the show was extended. The character remained on-screen on a recurring basis until May 2009. Clare was invited back to play the role on a regular basis signed to longer contracts. The actress has also taken part in the 2010 spinoff show titled "Coronation Street: A Knights Tale".
Upon being introduced into the series Mary bonds with established character Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) over their interest of entering competitions. Mary develops feelings for Norris and tries to flirt with him. He does not respond to her behaviour and she tries to seduce him. He rejects her and becomes concerned about her romantic intentions. When Mary's mother dies she decides to go travelling. The character was later reintroduced to the series and a show publicist stated that Mary returns with the intention to reconnect with Norris. Hebden has claimed that his off-screen friendship with Clare helped to create a good comedy duo with Mary and Norris.
Norris agrees to go on a cottage holiday with Mary. Brian Roberts from the Daily Mirror revealed that Coronation Street had planned a kidnapping storyline in similar to the narrative featured in the novel Misery. While at the cottage Mary vandalises their car and telephone to prevent Norris from leaving. Mary develops fantasies of her and Norris having a romance resembling Heathcliffe and Cathy, fictional characters from the novel Wuthering Heights. Norris tries to escape but hurts his ankle and she refuses to take him to the hospital. The storyline takes a sinister turn when Norris watches Mary using an axe in the yard. He begins to fear Mary and barricades himself in the cottage. Roberts revealed that Mary becomes "seriously demented" during the scenes. Hebden branded the plot as "strangely enjoyable" to portray. He believed that rival soap operas had not portrayed such a strange "one-off" story.
In 2015, Producer Stuart Blackburn announced that he had planned romance and comedy stories for Mary. The casting department hired Ted Robbins to play Brendan Finch who was billed as a new love interest for Mary. The pair bond over Mary's interest in Brendan's magazines. Robbins stated that "he has a bit of a backbone and I think Mary likes that." He believed that Mary is instantly attracted to Brendan and he notices. The pair start an affair in secret as Brendan is married. He tells Mary that he will eventually leave his wife and plan a future with Mary. Clare told David Brown of Radio Times that Mary is true to her characterisation and has fantasies about the relationship. She believes everything that Brendan has told her. He is a "clever man" who knows the right things to say and Mary believes him. The actress added "she’s totally fallen for him and he's everything to Mary: he’s manly, he’s straight out of a Mills and Boon novel." Norris is upset about her affair and does not like Brendan. Clare explained that Norris has become a "very loyal friend" to Mary but she thinks that he is jealous of her relationship. Dev walks in on Mary and Brendan being intimate and she is so embarrassed that she quits her child-minding job.
It was later reported that Brendan's wife Bridget would be introduced. A publicist from Coronation Street told Susan Hill of the Daily Star that Bridget slaps Mary in the face in-front of her neighbours. They added that Brendan is a "love rat" who used Mary for sex and Bridget knows exactly what her husband is like. Clare believed that her character was filled with excitement by Bridget's arrival. She believed it was to be the "eye of the storm" in her romantic novel. She presumed that the public showing would be the first step towards her future with Brendan. She thinks it is time for Bridget to know the truth, but the scenario plays out different. Brendan denies all knowledge of their affair, sides with his Bridget and she insults Mary. Clare explained that her character is left "humiliated [and] mortified" because her close friends Dev and Erica are witness to the attack. She was not worried for her character's emotional development and added "she’s been badly bruised but Mary’s extremely resilient. She’s like the Terminator, perhaps to the point of being foolhardy."
Mary became familiar with Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) after repeatedly beating him at competitions. They met up in November 2008 and Mary was instantly taken with Norris. As they starting spending time together, Mary told Norris that she cared for her invalid mother and used the competitions as a way of escape. Although shy around most people, Mary was happier in Norris's company, although her boundless enthusiasm was often met with bemusement by the more cynical Norris. Mary also spent Christmas with him and Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire).
Mary and Norris won a holiday in the Bronte Country, and Norris agreed to go with Mary when Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) offered to look after The Kabin. When they arrived at their house, Mary began to enjoy herself, spending most of the days entering competitions, but Norris rebuffed her attempts to get cozy and soon made plans to spend time away from the cottage and phoned Rita to complain about Mary. To keep Norris under control, Mary cut the phone lines and told Norris the motor home wouldn't start, so they couldn't go anywhere. Mary found Norris had run off and went looking for him in the motor home. He sprained his ankle while running away, and was forced to return so that Mary could take care of him. Upon their return, Mary suggested that they get married, and was relieved when Norris didn't immediately say no. The next day, Norris overheard Mary talking to her mother and phoned the police, as he was convinced that Mary was mad and that Mary was going to kill him like she killed her mother. The police arrived and brought them both to the station, but Mary was released without charge as there was no evidence of foul play at the cottage, and Mary's mother was actually still alive, as Mary confessed to Norris after visiting him. Norris refused to listen to Mary and rejected her attempts to speak to him thereafter, having been deeply disturbed by his ordeal at the cottage.
In the weeks following, Mary persisted with her attempts to stay in Norris's life, and went along to Weatherfield Crown Court to watch the trial of Gail McIntyre (Helen Worth) for the murder of her late-husband Joe (Reece Dinsdale), which Norris was also attending. Mary made a bet with Norris that Gail would get convicted, but lost the bet as Gail was acquitted.
After the death of Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati), Mary became the full-time nanny to her children Aadi and Asha and took care of the domestic duties, after widower Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin) struggled to cope single-handed with the children and his business. She began to have feelings towards Dev and she and Julie Carp (Katy Cavanagh) fought for Dev's affections however Julie and Dev later begin a relationship. Mary later has her mobile home removed and has to move in with Julie and clashes with her, as Dev is not around. Dev returns to the street and he breaks up with Julie after developing feelings for his friend Talisa, making Mary happy.
Mary meets fellow fan of seances and mysterious happenings, Brendan Finch and begins a relationship with him, however after finding out he has a wife she breaks up with him, leaving Mary heartbroken. Mary and Dev spend a night together and whilst he panics that they had sex and worries about his girlfriend Erica Holroyd (Claire King) Mary later reveals that they didn't have sex and just slept together after getting drunk.
Mary tells Norris that when she was 14 years old, she used to babysit for a family friend, who later raped her. She consequently fell pregnant. As her pregnancy became more conspicuous, her mother informed the neighbours that Mary was visiting an aunt. Following a homebirth, her son was left on the doorstep of St Jude's church in Newton-le-Williows. He was subsequently named Jude by a nurse named Maureen Nuttall. Mary's son finds her and asks her to move to South Africa with him, to which she agrees. After saying good bye to her friends in the Rovers, Mary and Jude leave for the airport. However, she changes her mind and tells Norris that she wants to stay in Weatherfield. Mary is concerned when Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) seems afraid of her boyfriend Nathan Curtis (Chris Harper).
Clare has been recognised for her comic scenes and storylines on Coronation Street. In 2011 the actress was nominated for 'Funniest Performance' at the Inside Soap Awards and won 'Best Comedy Performance' at the British Soap Awards. More "funniest female" nominations followed for Clare at the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Inside Soap Awards.
The character's behaviour and stories have led her to be dubbed as "Scary Mary" in British media. Jennifer Rodger from the Daily Mirror branded Mary's love life a "complete disaster area". She opined that the writers were cruel to Mary with endless heartbreak put onto the character. Their colleague stated that "Mary's risqué, off-the-wall remarks are turning her into one of the Street's funniest characters." Of Mary, the Daily Mail's Jaci Stephen stated "Every time she opens her mouth, a gem pours forth. The writers do a great job with this character, but it is also Patti Clare's exquisite delivery that induces side-splitting hilarity – and, brilliantly, hilarity laced with a sense of the sinister." A writer from the Belfast Telegraph branded Mary "the wonderful sidekick of Norris" and found her "a joy to watch" compared to other characters. They added "Mary is the gloriously comic yet poignant creation of the brilliant actress Patti Clare who plays her - she conceived the misfit spinster character herself."
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