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The Queen of the North (Bolton)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Pat Phoenix first appeared in Coronation Street in 1960, and immediately shot to fame as feisty divorcee Elsie Tanner.  Within a year, Pat was watched by almost 15 million viewers every week, and it's said that when the Queen visited the Corrie set, a TV executive joked about introducing her to The Queen of the North. Writer Ron Rose's drama is a fitting tribute to Pat's life, charting her on-screen career and her off-screen relationships from childhood to the cobbles.

Lynda Rooke takes on the demanding role of Pat, narrating between every scene and making constant fast-paced changes as we are taken backwards and forwards in time: from Pat's childhood home in Manchester, to the green room at Granada, and finally to her hospital bed. The hospital scenes between Pat and the love of her life, Tony Booth – charmingly played by John McArdle –  are both funny and heartbreaking, as they struggle to come to terms with Pat's illness but refuse to let it show.

Rooke and McArdle are supported by a strong cast of just four actors, playing all the remaining roles and making use of a simple, revolving set. Matt Healy gives a great performance as both Pat's unreliable father and her former husband Alan Browning, the casting cleverly reflecting Pat's constant search for the security she lost as a child.

This is the story of a remarkably strong and talented woman, whose personal life was every bit as dramatic as the one she portrayed on-screen.  For fans of Pat Phoenix - this is right up their street, as they will be moved to tears and laughter by this funny, likeable and poignant drama.

- Harriet Chandler


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