Another fab guest post from Anna Kalinski, who will soon be joining us as a Coronation Street Blogger. Follow Anna on twitter @annakalinski
Weatherfield Gazette to check the upcoming Corrie spoilers this week, I was disappointed to see that Katy is set to ‘break Chesney’s heart’ with her upcoming dalliance with Ryan. Yep. I’m thinking what you’re thinking.
“Oh Dear! I need a DJ at my party! Oh! Wherever will I find one?”
“Oooh! Has he got his deck out, or is he just pleased to see me?”
The interactions are already set up like a low budget 80s porno film. (What? My friend’s dad hid it in a Video Library case. We were 13. How were we supposed to know what ‘Electric Blue’ was? Traumatised. I’ve never since waited in for a sparky without a chaperone present. )
I am willing to wager that if we looked at the broad demographic of Corrie fans and their viewing habits - particularly amongst long-standing viewers - there would be many who do not watch other soaps because they feel alienated by the fake tan of Hollyoaks, the explosions of Emmerdale and the affairs of Eastenders. Cheap thrills have no resonance with most viewers, yet daily we see Corrie edging away from Tony Warren’s kitchen-sink premise and inching ever-closer to ‘A Corrie-mole revealed to the Sun’ territory.
My late grandmother, Hilda-Jean, Lancashire born and bred (she was never going to be from St Albans with a name like that.), would always watch only Corrie because for her it represented what she liked to call “real Lancashire people’s normal lives”. That and she didn’t like Cockneys.
Corrie viewers are traditionally more suspicious of newcomers and sensationalism than viewers of any other soap. Let’s admit it, when new characters start on Corrie, we don’t really like them; at least not before they’ve proved themselves. We start muttering about how we don’t like this new-fangled Stella/Eva/Kylie/Becky. We’ll stop watching at this rate. We’re the soap equivalent of those people who start saying they’ll “refuse to use Facebook if it changes to this new...” but then are happily posting away on it the next month.
However, if there’s one thing of which we are intolerant, it is ‘flavour-of-the-month’ younger characters monopolising the bulk of the airtime with their petty, circular and ultimately hollow dramas. And justifiably so. This week, we have seen some truly diabolical ‘performances’ from Katy’s ‘mates’ as the cast of the Chorlton-cum-Hardy version of Clueless, heralding yet another out of the blue pairing. What-ev-err.
The Katy/Ryan thing is not a storyline. Here’s what’s really happened: Ryan, easy on the eye though he is, is floating around aimlessly. What is a “hunk” without a sexy storyline? The producers have seen the recent paparazzi pictures of Georgia-May Foote glammed up. They of course think, ‘hang about, we can cash in on her if we put a bit of make-up on her, a miniskirt and pop in some Carmen rollers’. They might even get a cheeky Nuts shoot out of her. A Babes of Corrie shoot in a Sunday TV supplement beckons. They need new blood because, of course, you can’t be voted Sexiest Female over the age of 29. I mean Michelle Keegan is over 25 now, almost ready for the knacker’s and so of course will probably be put in a home soon or minced up into the soap equivalent of a Birdseye lasagne. Or Holby City, to call it by its name.
So, the Corrie sixty-minute makeover it is. Nice, fresh-faced homely female character suddenly turns temptress, working her way around the street with affairs and arbitrary pairings with any available male. Who all of a sudden notices her. They do however, usually wait until the actress turns 21. It happened to Maria, Rosie, Molly, Tina, hell, even Sunita, but they were pushing it there. But after that, where do they go? Nowhere. And herein lies the problem. They just drift into overexposure with no real storyline, or find themselves axed.
But, believe it or not, young women can do more than just have affairs and get involved with random wrong’uns. Audiences can actually enjoy the enduring relationships we see on screen: who could conceive of anybody disliking the pairing of Roy and Hayley? Jack and Vera? Ken and Deidre? Because, as in life, if a pairing is right, it will last.
Why on earth can’t Kylie actually continue to grow into a character of substance? Why can’t we see her as a successful mother? Why does Katy have to be incapable of fidelity because she’s young? Is it really so boring to represent young mothers in a positive light?
Coronation Street is fundamentally about families and interesting things happen in families. Not just people having affairs. Sometimes, women do stay faithful and most times drama does not have to be out of the ordinary for it to be extraordinary.
There were high hopes for new Corrie producer Stuart Blackburn (mind you, any port in a storm...) but here he is doing it again with recent spoilers of fires, deaths and suicide. Alas, we have again been underestimated. Blackburn can trust Corrie viewers. We’re not like all the rest. This is why we are so hard to please and exactly why we want characters to earn the crown and prove themselves to us. We will tune in for gritty, working-class character-based drama- if we are given it. We don’t need shocks, bombings, fires or sexy pairings. That’s not why we’re here. It never was.
The past few years have been increasingly difficult for families. Given its prominence, how disappointing that Coronation Street hasn’t really been able to provide at least a degree of social commentary, and by this, I don’t mean picking a controversial issue such as rape, and plonking it amongst all the other ‘A Weatherfield Gazette please, Rita’ sorts of goings on in the street in a token attempt to be seen to be “tackling tough social issues”. I mean something that we can look back upon and say that it genuinely reflected British society as it was back then.
With 2.5 million unemployed, when you lose your job, the owner of the local café doesn’t pop up and give you a few hours just because you asked. You aren’t made redundant one second, then the next, a card conveniently goes up in the window of your local newsagent and you’re hired without interview. In fact, it has the opposite effect of providing social commentary, for such scenes make it implicit that ‘it’s easy to get a job if you’re looking’ and reinforce already deeply negative stereotypes about the jobless. I don’t know what these positions are paying, but presumably a good solid twenty-five quid an hour to pay the rent or mortgage on a house and support a family, whilst leaving enough disposable income to keep buying these laptops? Though presumably, people struggling doesn’t provide enough material from which to create any sort of engaging drama. Alan Bleasdale might disagree.
Corrie suffers greatly from such lack of strivers. I’m not saying families don’t break up. They do. 1 in 3 families is estimated to be a stepfamily. And yet another trick missed. Here on Coronation Street, family dynamics are glossed over unless it’s affair-related. Aadi and Asha take to Karl like a duck to water; did they even notice? Amy welcomed Becky as a second mother without a glitch. It’s all a bit Wife Swap.
Families are immensely complex, intense and problematic and there is scope to explore this and to give women in particular, opportunities to take on roles of substance and show their mettle and of course, to provide a forum for quality characterisation without resorting to courting the bad boys or the tabloids. Because we’ll never get another Jack and Vera at this rate…
You can follow us on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog and Facebook: CoronationStreetBlog
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License
Our Top 10 Blog Posts in last 7 days (automatically updated)
Corrie's Antony Cotton has been quoted on Digital Spy talking about upcoming plans for his character Sean. Now Sean is very popular wi...
There's a Coronation Street spoiler in today's Star saying that Tyrone is going to be left for dead when he's badly hurt in an...
The weekend before last found me in Manchester; and before embarking excitedly upon the Coronation Street tour, I could think of no...
I've been commenting *moaning* on Twitter a lot over the past few days about the current state of Coronation Street. I've been watch...
Coronation Street Producer Stuart Blackburn has lifted the lid on some of the exciting storylines coming up in the soap this summer a...
Tabloid press are reporting this morning that the actress Jean Alexander who played Hilda Ogden on Coronation Street has been rushed to ...
A few months ago, when it was announced that first Sue Johnstone, then Michelle Collins were leaving the Street, an odd thought occurred...
Simon Gregson, who plays Coronation Street's Steve McDonald, hosted his annual charity bash last night in Manchester. The theme was S...
Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in Coronation Street, is making a series of special appearances throughout July, exclusively at Coro...
In this week's Inside Soap magazine there's an excellent spoiler about Eccles - who not only gets a storyline all of her own, but...
Click on a name to find out more about your Corrie favourites!
alan halsall alex bain alison king alison sinclair all about soap awards amy barlow andrea beckett andy whyment anna windass anne kirkbride antony cotton audrey roberts awards barbara knox becky mcdonald behind the scenes bet gilroy bet lynch betty driver betty williams betty's hotpot bev callard beverley callard blanche hunt brooke vincent bruno langley can i visit the coronation street set canadian coronation street fans carla barlow carla connor carmel morgan catherine tyldesley celebrities on coronation street characters leaving coronation street charlie condou cherylee houston chesney brown chris fewtrell chris gascoyne classic corrie clothes worn on coronation street colson smith competition conversation street coronation street look-a-like coronation street weekly update coronation street weekly updates coronation street writers craig charles damon rochefort david neilson david platt debbie oates debbie rush deirdre barlow Dennis Tanner dev alahan eileen derbyshire eileen grimshaw ellie-louise leach elsie tanner emily bishop emily nugent ena sharples famous people who have been in corrie faye windass fiz brown fiz stape flaming nora florizel street flying ducks furquan akhtar Gail McIntyre gail platt gary windass gary's army diaries gay and lesbians gay men in coronation street georgia may foote gloria price granada manchester coronation street set granada studios gurn of the week hayley cropper Hayley tamaddon helen flanagan helen worth hilda ogden how to contact coronation street inside soap magazine izzy armstrong jack p shepherd jane danson jason grimshaw jennie mcalpine jimi mistry jimmi harkishin job vacancies at coronation street julie carp julie goodyear julie hesmondhalgh julie jones kabin kate ford katherine kelly kathy jones katie mcglynn Katy Cavanagh ken barlow kevin webster khalid kim crowther kirk sutherland kylie platt kylie turner kym marsh kym ryder leanne barlow leanne battersby leanne tilsley liz mcdonald lloyd mullaney maggie jones malcolm hebden maria connor maria sutherland mark baylis mark llewellin maxine's bench michael le vell michelle collins michelle connor michelle keegan mikey north mikey north minnie caldwell Morrissey museum of science and industry new set newton and ridley nick tilsley nigel havers nigel pivaro no.1 Coronation Street no.11 coronation street no.13 coronation street no.3 coronation street no.5 coronation street no.7 coronation street no.9 coronation street norris cole norris cole's brother odd side of the street official coronation street website pat phoenix patti claire patti clare paula lane peter barlow pets on coronation street phil collinson Philip Lowrie pictures of the coronation street set pigeons props rita sullivan rovers return rovers return barmaids rovers return landlady roy cropper roys rolls ryan thomas sally webster sally dynevor sally webster sally whittaker sam aston samia smith sean tully simon barlow simon gregson sinead tinker sophie webster stella price steve mcdonald streetcars sue cleaver sue johnston sue nicholls sylvia cropper sylvia goodwin the kabin tina mcintyre todd grimshaw tony warren tours of coronation street tracy barlow tyrone dobbs walking tours weatherfield weatherfield arms weatherfield county weatherfield county football club weatherfield fire station weatherfield gazette weatherfield wayfarer weekly awards weekly update william roache window cleaners