The sad passing of Anne Kirkbride means that we will never see Ken and Deirdre Barlow grace our screens when we settle in front of the box to watch Coronation Street. Ever since their wedding in 1980, they have kept us entertained with on-screen antics. Affairs, break-ups, divorce, remarriage, endless rows, passionate reunions, long-lost children, Deirdre’s scrapes with the law, Tracey’s shenanigans… this couple have been through it all. And through it all, there wasn’t a couple we wanted to see together more than Ken and Deirdre. We may sadly never see them again but they’ve gone down in television history as a legendary soap couple.
I got thinking about other soap couples, those who were a perfect match in every way. Though perfect match or not, they didn’t always get their happy ending but then that’s the way it often is in soap land. So I’ve come up with my list of ten soap couples who I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching; who captured the nation’s hearts, and who most definitely belonged together.
1. SCOTT AND CHARLENE ROBINSON
They may be the youngest couple on this list but they’re right up there when it comes to soap legends. Scott and Charlene were just one of the reasons why Neighbours back in the 1980s was so popular. Who could forget that phenomenal wedding that’s still being talked about more than twenty five years later? They may have been on-off-on again-off again even after they were married but there’s no denying that Scott and Charlene belonged together. It was a sad day in Erinsborough and for Neighbours fans when Scott and Charlene left for a new life in Brisbane. And even though many couples may have met and fell in love on Ramsay Street, there was never anyone quite like Scott and Charlene.
2. DEN AND ANGIE WATTS
The Cockney version of JR and Sue Ellen Ewing may have been a relatively short-lived couple and not together as long as Ken and Deirdre but Den and Angie are legends with a capital L. When people talk about the good ol’ days of Eastenders, they usually mean the Den and Angie years.
True, Angie loved Den more than he loved her. And it was Den who turned her to drink with his dodgy deals and numerous affairs. Goodness knows what Angie would have done if she’d found out about Den’s love children. Despite all the ups and downs (mostly downs) there was never a dull moment with Den and Angie. We all hoped for a happy ending for our fave soap couple – and there were times when we thought it might be a possibility – but it wasn’t to be. Angie ran off to start a new life with her new fella while Den was presumed dead for years before popping up in Albert Square again.
3. TOM AND PIPPA FLETCHER
When Home And Away first aired, it was all about the Fletcher family: Tom, his wife Pippa and their foster children. Despite issues with the children, they were a very tight family unit with Tom and Pippa having a strong marriage that seemed able to withstand anything life through at them. They initially thought they couldn’t have children of their own (until baby Christopher came along) and they were often worn down by their foster children’s dramas but they often came across as quite young at heart, totally devoted to each other, and quite sweet as a couple.
It was terribly sad when Tom was killed in an accident, and I remember Pippa’s shock and denial which eventually gave way to grief. They may not have been together for a long time, but they’re still a very memorable couple.
4. STAN AND HILDA OGDEN
Stan and Hilda were the Ken and Deirdre of Coronation Street long before the latter achieved legendary status. This classic Corrie couple had been in the soap since the 1960s but my earliest memories of them are from the 1980s which must have been just before Stan died. I still remember when Stan gave Hilda a box for her birthday and when she opened it, there was nothing in it. Stan explained that it was for Hilda to put her jewellery in – which she accepted. I thought it was a great idea at the time but I was too young to know any better. Now I just think it’s hilarious – not to mention a bit cheeky!
Stan and Hilda may have been off our screens as a couple for more than three decades but when I think Coronation Street, I still think of Stan and Hilda Ogden.
5. MADGE AND HAROLD BISHOP
The king and queen of Ramsay Street! Who couldn’t love the Bishops? Former childhood sweethearts Madge and Harold reunited after many years apart, and despite them being polar opposites, there was no doubting that Madge without Harold was like tea without biscuits. Yes Harold annoyed Madge with his fuddy-duddy ways and Harold sometimes found Madge a bit too harsh but they loved each other dearly.
Unfortunately Madge and Harold didn’t get the chance to grow old and grey together as Madge passed away and Harold eventually remarried and left the street. But rumour has it that Madge and Harold will be returning to Erinsborough as part of the show’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations. How Madge will be returning from the dead, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Bishops together again.
6. DENNIS AND SHARON RICKMAN
The couple who the public affectionately nicknamed ‘Shannis’ may just be my ultimate favourite soap couple. No, I take that back: Sharon Watts and Dennis Rickman are my ultimate favourite couple. I think I may love them even more than Scott and Charlene and that’s saying something. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an on-screen couple together and got goose-bumps. The chemistry between Letitia Dean and the gorgeous Nigel Harman was astounding. I did have my reservations when I heard that Eastenders’ writers were going to get Sharon and Dennis together – in fact I thought it was bizarre: Sharon was Dennis’s adopted sister after all.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sharon and Dennis were perfect together. Their complicated family situation meant that on more than one occasion one of the twosome got cold feet and called the whole thing off which eventually resulted in Dennis starting a relationship with Zoe Slater. Thankfully he saw sense and realised that Sharon was the woman for him – and the nation cheered. They married but the marriage was sadly short-lived when Dennis was murdered on New Year’s Eve – just as they found out that Sharon was expecting their much longed-for baby.
I totally miss seeing Sharon and Dennis together in Eastenders. I’m sorry but Sharon and Phil… well, they’re no Shannis, are they?
7. BOBBY AND PAMELA EWING
Dallas’s Bobby and Pam were the complete opposite of JR and Sue-Ellen. This was a couple who truly loved each other but being Texas’s answer to Romeo and Juliet, they had to put up with a lot of family hostility, especially from Bobby’s brother JR who hated the Barnes family with a passion and couldn’t get his head around the fact that his little brother was shacking up with the sister of the enemy.
And family pressures did indeed split them up with them both meeting other partners – Bobby’s relationship in particular with Jenna Wade a.k.a Mrs. Elvis Presley really had viewers on the edge of their seats – but we all knew that Bobby and Pam were a great match and thankfully they realised that too. Despite discovering that Jenna was pregnant with Bobby’s child, Pam went on to remarry Bobby. But in true soap style, there was no happy ever after. Pam was badly injured in a car accident, and although she survived, she couldn’t bear for Bobby or their son Christopher to see how badly disfigured she was, so she left the hospital without telling the Ewings where she was going and filed for divorce.
Bobby went to remarry twice more but it was never the same. Bobby and Pam were an awesome couple.
8. JEFF AND FALLON COLBY
Jeff and Fallon’s on-off antics had viewers gripped. Sweet, sensible Jeff and flighty Fallon Carrington may have been a bit of a mismatch but these two had plenty of passion and fire and I loved watching them together. Admittedly I did think that Fallon and Jeff’s cousin Miles – who Fallon married when she lost her memory also made a great couple – but they were no Jeff and Fallon. And I remembered being allowed to stay up late to watch Fallon become Mrs. Jeff Colby for the second time in a gorgeous pink gown. The ups and downs didn’t stop there but Jeff and Fallon always found their way back to each other again.
9. PAULINE AND ARTHER FOWLER
Cardigan-wearing Pauline Fowler and her allotment-loving husband Arthur both appeared during the golden days of Eastenders. But unlike their fiery, passionate counterparts Den and Angie, Pauline and Arthur were considered a little less dramatic, and they definitely preferred a quieter life. But that’s not to say that that’s what they got as the Flowers had more than their fair share of drama over the years: Pauline’s surprise pregnancy; daughter Michelle becoming a teenage mum; Arthur’s breakdown and spell in prison; the death of Pauline’s twin brother Pete… and let’s not forget having to live with Pauline’s domineering mother, Lou.
But the biggest shock of all – just in case anyone thought Pauline and Arthur were too boring – was when Arthur had an affair with Christine Hewitt, who begged him to leave Pauline. On the day that Arthur confessed all to Pauline, he was rewarded, quite memorably, with a whack around the head with a frying pan. However, this wasn’t enough to finish off Walford’s iconic couple: Pauline and Arthur eventually reunited and stayed married until Arthur’s untimely death.
10. ALF AND AILSA STEWART
I was a huge fan of this Home And Away couple from day one. Ailsa was Alf’s first real relationship after his wife Martha died and they seemed perfect for each other. Unfortunately Alf’s teenage daughter Roo didn’t think so and tried to find ways to split them up. Roo thought she’d struck gold when she found out that Ailsa had served time in prison for murdering her father, but when Ailsa explained that her father was an abusive bully and that she’d killed him in self-defence, Alf didn’t need to think twice about resuming his relationship with Ailsa – and told Roo where to go.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for this couple. They had to deal with Ailsa’s post-natal depression after the birth of their son Duncan and more of Roo’s shenanigans. But like Tom and Pippa, they dearly loved each other and made their marriage work until Ailsa’s shock death from a heart attack.