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Jacqueline "Jackie" Dobbs, played by Margi Clarke, is a fictional character in the soap opera, Coronation Streetmarker. She was introduced in 1998, but written out in 1999 due to the personal problems of the actress who played her. Nine years later, in 2008, the character was reintroduced, once again played Margi Clarke, who initially signed a 2 month contract.

Creation and development

1998-1999

Jackie as she appeared in 1998.
Liverpudlianmarker Jackie was introduced in 1998 by producer Brain Park as the cellmate of established character Deirdre Rachid (Anne Kirkbride); Jackie was in prison for Actual Bodily Harm. Jackie's introduction was part of a high-profile storyline that saw Deirdre framed by her boyfriend and wrongfully imprisoned. Jackie first appeared in a specially constructed prison cell at Granada Studios. When Deirdre was pardoned and released, Jackie arrived in the soap's primary setting of Weatherfield on parole, needing a friend to turn to, having been dumped by her partner and left homeless. Jackie moved to the area with her son Tyrone (Alan Halsall), squatting in Curly Watts's vacant premises. She became a factory worker for Mike Baldwin, where she had numerous run-ins with Janice Battersby over flirtations with Janice's husband Les Battersby. Jackie remained on the show for one year before leaving in the midst of a property feud with Curly. Jackie fled back to Liverpool with her husband Darren, though Tyrone stayed behind.

Off-screen, actress Margi Clarke was axed from Coronation Street due to personal problems that interfered with her work, including alcohol abuse, prompted by the death of her mother. Clarke explains, "[My mother] was a Corrie fan and I was still grieving for her when I first appeared on the show. As a result, I don’t think I played the part to the best of my ability." She added, "I wasn't focused and although I turned up to work on Coronation Street on time, I'd often be hungover or smell of alcohol. My contract wasn't renewed. I'd had a brilliant opportunity and I'd messed it up as a direct result of my drinking".

2008-2009

Due to the continual presence of Jackie's son Tyrone in Coronation Street - he was taken in as a surrogate son by Jack and Vera Duckworth - Jackie was occasionally mentioned in the serial, despite not appearaing. For instance, in 2007, Tyrone was shown to fly to Spain to bail Jackie out of prison (off-screen) after she was arrested for theft. In 2008, producers decided to reintroduce the character of Jackie, 9 years after she had last appeared. They initially considered recasting the role, however, Liverpudian scriptwriter Carmel Morgan spoke up for Margi Clarke at a writers meeting, saying that "Margi's in a great place right now, she looks fantastic, she's healthy, very positive, and would love to make up for her shortcomings last time". So, she was asked to re-audition for the role. Clarke was sent scripts to rehearse for the audition, however, as no scripts for Jackie's return had been finalised, Clarke was sent a script for a character named auntie Pam, Molly Compton's relation. Mistakenly believing that she was being asked to audition for a new character, the sister of Jackie, Clarke dyed her hair bright pink to make her visually different from Jackie, who was known to viewers for her peroxide blonde hair. The look impressed the directors and after a successful audition, Jackie Dobbs was brought back with pink hair. She initially signed a two-month contract and appeared in the lead up to her son's engagement to Molly Compton.

Speaking about her comeback, Margi Clarke has said "When I got the phone call, I was crying tears of joy out of my living room window. It was nine years ago since I last walked the Cobbles, so I've been lost at sea for that long. It was like finding my way back to the land of milk and honey. I couldn't believe it. I'm delighted to be back, though [...] I'd always wanted to go back and I hoped that it would always be a possibility. Jackie Dobbs lived on. She was referred to every now and then, what with Tyrone being her son. If Tyrone wasn't there, I wouldn't be going back! Thanks God for my 'son'! Not many actors leave a soap. I left and I thought I was going to get a long run of work. With my character being quite an explosive one, I was never going to go into the corner shop and ask Dev for a loaf. Characters like mine don't tend to survive long because they're wild, but she's brilliant to play." Clarke has vowed to take the soap more seriously after wasting her "golden opportunity" in the late 1990s. She said: "It's one of Britain's top soaps and to be called to play on that stage, it's on a par with being asked to play for England and you should really honour it, have the commitment and give it everything you've got. I'm 54 now, and I'm never going to look a gift horse in the mouth again."

On-screen, Tyrone contacted her about his engagement in August 2008. Jackie was living in a nice home with a cat and she claimed to have turned over a New Age leaf, but she was actually only catsitting, and was being menaced by an ex-boyfriend to whom she owed a £1,000 debt. Tyrone and Molly cashed in their wedding fund to pay her debt. Jackie asked for more money for travel fare, and when they said no, she effectively disowned Tyrone. Soon she went to Tyrone's home in an attempt to see him, but was asked to leave by Molly's aunt Pam Hobsworth as well as Jack Duckworth.

Jackie returned again on New Year's Day 2009, ahead of the wedding of Molly and Tyrone. She claimed to be in severe pain due to a ruptured breast implant. When Jack asked her to leave, she faked a fainting spell. Molly looked up the details Jackie had given them and discovered nothing was wrong with her. She still decided to give Jackie another chance, for Tyrone's sake. Her forgiving mood vanished when Jackie showed up at the hen night and quickly got drunk, encouraging Graeme Proctor to do a striptease and groping one of the men hired to serve food until he asked to leave. Pam physically ejected Jackie.

Jackie missed the wedding, but, wearing a dark wig, she attended the reception at the Rovers. She was hurt that Tyrone had no kind words for her in his wedding speech. When Jackie revealed herself, Molly once again pledged to give Jackie another chance, for Tyrone's sake. Jackie perked up when she learned the newlyweds had received train tickets to Paris as a honeymoon gift. She managed to pocket the tickets without anyone noticing. As Jackie crept off into the night, she took one final look at her son and his new wife, a brief hint of pride on her face at the man Tyrone had become.

Personality

Margi Clarke has described the character of Jackie: "I don’t think she’s vile – there’s definitely a heart beating in Jackie. She has an obvious intelligence but she’s not had opportunities in life and has made some mistakes. She’s a born survivor but doesn’t know how to play straight" Discussing Jackie's severed relationship with her son Tyrone, Clarke said "She's not the best mother in the world. Even though she's trying to spiritually develop herself, there is a side that's under-developed, a side that thinks only about herself. It makes the character interesting, though. I think that Jackie realises that Tyrone's going to do what she never did - that he's going to get it right first time. I think he'll stay with Molly - he's one of those lads that wants to correct what his mother's done. Mother and father split up, mother being with all kinds of fellas. I think that's how he wants to live - he's a one woman guy".

Speaking of the apparent changes her character underwent in 2008, Clarke said "on the outside she's a reformed character. She's into yoga and natural living, but deep down, Jackie Dobbs is going to burst back out again. She's mellowed a little bit, though. I think it's the pink hair."

Reception

Discussing the character's reintroduction in 2008, Kris Green from entertainment website Digital Spy said, "It was a coup on Corrie's part when they managed to lure her back. Jackie's an excellent character and will hopefully bring back some of Corrie's 'energy' that it's been lacking of late." TV critic Christine Klabacher added, "Actress Margi Clarke threw herself into the role as always and brightened a rather dull week in the soap [...] characterisation was called for, and Margi obliged in bucketloads."

References


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