Thursday, 13 August 2015

Does each generation get the Corrie it deserves?

Here's something I've been thinking a lot about recently - does each generation get the Corrie it deserves?

Coronation Street is 55 years old in December this year. It is the longest running TV soap opera in the world. With that legacy to live up to as it faces its future, it shouldn't be bogged down by its past. But it should hold its principles firm.

When I tune into Coronation Street five times a week (or six as is currently being forced on us, more of which later), I want the security and comfort of knowing I'm going to watch something I love. I want that feeling that I'm being served up a nice toasted crumpet on my favourite plate with some hot tea in my favourite mug. I want the cosiness, I want the fun, I want the drama.  And I get all that. I enjoy it still, otherwise I wouldn't continue to watch it and I wouldn't run this site.

But what we also get after 55 years of the show is a soap opera for our time. It's 2015 and Corrie has stiff competition from 'Stenders with its darkness and violence and people who whisper loudly and shout quietly. And then there's Hollyoaks aimed at a demographic I don't understand and programmes like Towie and Geordie Shore with their fake hair, fake tan, fake boobs, fake reality.

Pic: Metro

What we have now in Corrie is a bit of a mix.  We've recently seen Sarah Harding, a pop singer come and go. It wasn't one of Corrie's finest moments but I think I understand why they tried. X-Factor winner Shayne Ward arrives in the show next week. With X-Factor being another of ITV's flagship programmes, who can blame the corprate powers that be for combining both of their golden geese? That's how things work now, it's the business end of show-biz, and this is where I get to mention those six episodes a week that are being forced on us now.

I use the word 'forced' because I don't like the 6th episode on a Thursday night. It's too much. I have a life and I don't want that much Coronation Street in it. You really can have too much of a good thing. I want quality, not quantity. You may well disagree. But why are we having six eps a week now, does anyone know? And when will it end? Maybe it won't. Advertisers must be falling over themselves to book into those coveted extra Corrie slots. 

Perhaps it's an age thing not to want too much Corrie. For me, watching Coronation Street means sitting down in front of the TV, part of a routine. I've never watched it online and wouldn't. I couldn't, not Corrie. This week I've shuddered with horror as people have suggested I watch the live episode on my phone (my phone!) as I'll be overseas when the live episode airs.  I could not be that disrespectful to my favourite show, the cast and crew, to watch their live performance, as part of ITV's 60th anniversary, on a tiny little screen. Anyway, it's more fun to hunt down a foreign bar with English telly.

Anyway, I digress. There are also two comedy actors joining the show - Paddy McGuinness and Ted Robbins. I have high hopes for both. Yes, I would prefer to have some talented unknowns coming into these roles, but I do understand the necessity of bringing in names.  There are things I don't like or enjoy about Corrie but I'm just a life-long fan, I have no say. As a fan, all I can do is take what they give. And what they giving, in the most part, is great.

However, all is not lost. We still have some amazing, talented scriptwriters, some of the best on TV.  We still have some cosy-crumpets-and-slippers-by-the-fire moments. And we still have characters we love ... and while that's the case, I will always be a fan, ready to forgive Corrie anything.

Well, almost.

Oh yeah, and this.  

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Stevie Dawson said...

There's a markedly different culture in recent years, where it seems storylines are written for ratings and to appeal to, for example this year, to entice a new younger audience - rather than to produce the best drama for it's own sake.

My heart sinks when I see some of the new cameos / cast members but I understand why they are doing it, even if I don't agree with it.

Tvor said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I do tend to be more forgiving of Corrie than some, I have to say. But I do understand that they have to keep up with the competition while still trying to keep it "Corrie" enough for the long time viewers. Having actors that have been around for 30, 40 and 55 years and having excellent writers that throw out a line as a link to the past now and then really makes a difference. There really are some top notch writers, that's for sure. I don't mind "celeb" cameos, because that's what they are mostly, cameos. Short term appearances. If they suck, oh well.. they won't be around long anyway.

Casting a permanent character on looks alone is bad, wrong and they should be scolded roundly. It doesn't matter if, once in a while, they strike gold along with the looks. Most of the time, they don't. Casting unknown actors that have been to acting school is better. Inexperience doesn't always mean no talent, it just means someone has to give them that all-important first break. The woman that played Jenna comes to mind. She was a decent, new actor but the writers really didn't know what to do with her after the initial storyline and putting her with Sophie was a misstep that led to Jenna's ultimate ruination.

Anyway, never mind. Corrie has to keep up with the times. It isn't going to please everyone all the time. But shoving a character in our faces constantly because she's friends with the producer, insisting they're hugely popular when most of the collective is howling in protest is also wrong. They don't have to do everything the fans want but they should take more notice overall of the general feeling in fandom, too.

I'll get off my soapbox now. :)

Humpty Dumpty said...

We should remind ourselves that Corrie fans are very demanding but that's why we have the best soap in the world. Maybe the same could be said for British TV in general. I wonder if it works this business of getting celebrity names to attract younger viewers. Surely nobody over 16 would be tempted away from American soaps, Netflix and the like. There are indeed young fans but I've always assumed it's because they like Corrie and not the latest signing. Corrie's in the same boat as M&S, trying to compete and forgetting its core customers.

Catman said...

Certainly one can hope for tradition. Afterall, that's a major responsibility for those so employed to uphold the glowing flame. Not to do so, would be to lower the standard to the level of Emmerdale.

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