Monday, 31 March 2014

Keeping up appearances on Coronation Street

No, it's not about the hilarious antics of Hyacinth Bucket and hubby Richard - although Patricia Routledge did appear on the Street for a few episodes in 1961!

Having looked at the appearances of characters over the last few months, what came to my mind was how important it is for every character to keep up their appearances and not become absent for long periods of time - unless of course illness or bereavement on the actor's part keeps them from appearing.

I think in a show like Coronation Street every character should have equal screen time. Or maybe not equal, but no character should be over-exposed. It is natural that the Rovers' boss and the bar staff appear more often than any other, but they shouldn't necessarily appear all the time.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Annie Walker, Betty Turpin and Bet Lynch would appear in 70-80 episodes a year, so you had about 20-25 episodes where they didn't appear. In many of the episodes, they weren't the stars of the episode, they were simply pulling a pint or having a few lines of dialogue. In recent years, the likes of Becky, Tina and Stella have been over-exposed in their Rovers roles and so we tire of them. If they're not having a crisis, they're always seen behind the bar. They seem never to have a day off.

Or maybe I'm looking through rose-tinted specs? You viewers of Corrie back in the 70s and 80s, did you feel that certain characters were over exposed? Maybe you grew tired of Elsie, Hilda, Bet or Len? Both Len and Elsie topped the appearance charts for 20 years or more. But was there a difference that they didn't dominate episodes like current top-appearing characters?

Maybe the fact that there are more episodes now so characters have to appear more on screen. Prior to 1989, if you grew tired of a character on a Wednesday, you had until the following Monday to have a break from them. 

I just feel that certain characters are being cruelly underused - like Kirk and Deirdre for instance. Whereas Deirdre was the soap's biggest asset at one time, she's now a background character. And yet Gail is still a vital part of the show and Helen Worth is older than Anne Kirkbride. 

What is your view? Do you think every character should have an equal footing? Or do you have a thrill of seeing Emily Bishop appear on a recurring basis? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Kristine said...

An excellent observation. I'm new to Corrie, started watching classic and am only up to 1982. Len, Elsie and Hilda are all still faves to me. Screen times seem equal so far, though Bet hasn't been getting much lately. Seems like there's still a good mix of storylines, so that you don't sick and tired of any one character. Thanks for the great job you do on this blog!

Anonymous said...

I wonder, too, if the HUGE cast changes the original premise of the show. Back in the 60s and 70s, there were many fewer cast members, and they were all tied together in community and stories. I think having such a huge cast means that small groups of community and stories can only play out in time-sections, then they move on to another group of community and stories, then on to another...

Humpty Dumpty said...

The cast is too big now; they need to trim back the cast of characters and give fair shares to maybe three quarters of the characters. I think it's fine that some residents are only seen in other people's stories. Kirk, Craig, Mary and others are supporting characters which works for me.

Zagg said...

I agree, the cast is way too big now. They keep bringing in new people which I believe is a mistake. There is no reason for it when they have characters already waiting in the wings for a story line. It's hard to care about so many superfluous characters.

And...again, it is the constant complaint about these current writers. I think they need to sack most of them and hire people who have watched the program for a period of time and have some vested interest in it. Clearly these writers do not. So actors can come and go but it doesn't make the program more interesting with the same story lines of cheating all the time.

Just saying said...

I have an idea for Kirk. Remember he worked with Ashley in the butcher shop. Why not open the butcher shop and Ches can be his partner. I think it would be cool. I am sick of the butcher shop sitting there not being used.

Defrost Indoors said...

It doesn't help that some storylines seem to feature in every episode while others get pushed to the back burner (whatever happened with the damp in Audrey's house? that was a nonstarter). For instance, the Plattilsley baby drama seemed to be featured every day for months. Right now we have the Peter/Tina affair being brought up (like vomit) in every episode. Meanwhile, at least in Canada, we haven't seen much of Dev, Mary, Ches, Audrey etc. With so many episodes each week, we don't need to have the front-burners dominate each show. I also agree that we don't need to keep bringing new people in all the time when there are so many loose threads and so many characters languishing in the shadows.

Anonymous said...

If you're bringing in new characters, for heaven's sake, get rid of some old characters. Otherwise, beef up the storylines and give everyone something at least moderately meaty to do rather than have them disappear for long stretches. Equal time is hard to achieve but let's try and give the "minor" characters a min. amount of screen time.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the actors go visiting areas, attend openings, do interviews etc. I believe it is part of their job to represent the show in person. That is why sometimes we do not see a character for a is not just because they are on holiday.

Hing Joj Hoon said...

Exactemont, bring in new fresh blood by all means but get rid of the dead wood instead of renewing contracts all the time. The whole cast needs a mega overhaul Mr Blackburn!

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