I was rather torn about whether to even write this blog, let alone publish it. I need to get my frustrations out though so here it goes. Yes, I know Coronation Street is merely a television programme, but I still think the powers that be hold a great deal of responsibility in their hands when it comes to the direction Corrie takes. The news yesterday that ITV are upping production to six episodes a week has left me depressed but not totally gobsmacked.
The writing has been on the wall for some time now that production would increase yet again. It has, after all, been the trend since the late 1980s. While ITV claim that the quality of Corrie's output is at the heart of their mission and all they want to do is enhance the nation's favourite soap, I struggle to believe that creating three hours of continuing drama every week of every month throughout the year can maintain the same kind of quality we loyal viewers expect.
Coronation Street is widely praised for its high production values and its rich history of memorable characters, actors, writers and storylines. It has consistently broken new ground over the best part of sixty years and we should always be proud of that. I can't help but fret that the network are squeezing our beloved Corrie until there is very little left. I understand it makes ITV a lot of money and it remains, in this digital age, one of terrestrial television's gems. It's a reliable workhorse that pulls in a regular audience. Just how much of that loyal audience are going to give over a full three hours of their lives to Corrie every week from next year though?
Three hours is the equivalent of two feature films, produced by ITV each week. That's a hell of a burden on cast and crew. I know a great number of those involved are paid well for their efforts but there surely must be a limit? Before anyone says it, this isn't one of those blogs that dwells on the past and believes everything was better when an entire episode revolved around Stan's chickens or Albert Tatlock's dodgy vegetables. I love the history of Corrie and really do believe a lot of the old stuff is great but I'm equally aware that we can't stand still and things move on. I just don't think this is a move in the right direction.
I also know that Emmerdale, Corrie's ITV sister soap opera, has been producing six episodes a week for some time now to great success. I've never watched Emmerdale so I can't really comment on that. What I can say is that I think ITV drowning the schedules with six hours of soap each week is a singularly uninspired, unimaginative move. There must be more on offer than that? For me, the rot started to set in when the double episodes on a Monday and a Friday became less event television and more the norm. They were a great gimmick originally which kept the audience hooked when something big was going down. Nowadays I think the gimmick has been overcooked and it seldom works for me. I also dislike Corrie being manipulated to create big blockbuster events which tie in with the final of a talent show. Every year now somebody dies or something is blown up or dug up to coincide with Simon Cowell's 21st Century version of New Faces. It never used to be this way.
I have complete trust in the professional machine that is Coronation Street. I know that so many people both behind the scenes and in front of the camera work extremely hard and are still really passionate about the show. I hope this continues. I wish Corrie and all involved the very best but for me, this move to three hours a week is just a step too far. I've watched The Street regularly for the past 25 years but I think enough is enough for me now. I haven't tuned in for several weeks, mainly due to the schedule changes inflicted by all sorts of football shenanigans. I'm not quite sure I'll reconnect with Weatherfield life again. I hope Corrie continues to thrive once it goes to six episodes a week, I really do, but I fear the worst.
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