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Friday 29 March 2013

Sentimental Street?

For many of us, watching Coronation Street has been a lifelong affair. It's a habit that becomes ingrained in the fabric of our lives and the comings and goings of Weatherfield folk become a talking point. Sometimes even a reference point, as events in that make-believe world can often remind us of where we were and what we were doing at that time. It's this link with our own history that makes me wonder if we are guilty of sentimentalising the Street.

Those of us who picked up the Corrie habit back in the 1970s may well be remembering their own childhood. Certainly for me, it was a time without too many cares other than getting out to play after school and wondering how to spend my pocket money. Twice a week though, there was Corrie. It was one of the few times when, as a family, we sat and viewed. Paraded across our screens were the likes of Annie Walker, Betty Turpin and Hilda Ogden. Despite their faults, they were sympathetic characters of a certain age and while they did not represent actual people in my own family, they did resonate.

Which brings us to today. Time moves on and naturally, we say goodbye to people along the way. However, our Corrie favourites from yesteryear live on. Through video, DVD and social media they remain with us and in doing so, provide a link back to a time and to people long since gone. Watching old episodes from the 1970s and 1980s can instantly whisk us back to a period when our lives were, arguably, less complicated.

I am more than happy to waffle on about the good old days of Elsie, Eddie and Ena because they played a part in my formative years. If a character left, sometimes there was that strange sense of bewilderment that you only ever get as a child. Life in a fictitious northern street helped prepare me for life in my actual northern street. It sounds silly but at times, Weatherfield was definitely my mentor.

It's only natural that we sentimentalise the past. We strip out the bad bits where possible and remember the golden summers of the mid-seventies, the horrendous fashion, the ill-advised hairstyles, those first relationships and those final goodbyes. Accompanying us through those highs and lows were Bet, Mavis, Rita et al. This is why we sentimentalise the Corrie of the past and no doubt in twenty years time, there will be a whole bunch of devotees looking back with fond memories of Eileen, Tina and Tyrone. But never Tracy.

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Llifon said...

I agree with you. For me, 2002-2007was a golden period, because that's when I became a hard core fan so it must have been good. Many would disagree with me I would imagine. You look at those characters who were still there at that time - Blanche, Betty, Mike, Fred, the Duckies.

But it's the same with every long running programme. People say 'it was good then' when they look at only clips, but maybe it wasn't that good, but they looked at it with rose tinted specs.

But for me, I watch old Corrie eps on DVD and on YouTube and they are brilliant. But of course, I haven't seen them before so they're new to me. To those who've seen them before, maybe they're not as good. Life goes on and so storylines depict the age they're broadcast. But for me, as a history student, it's great to see life in Britain from 60s-80s and Corrie is unwittingly a history source of Britain since 1960.

abbyk said...

Funny, but I feel the same way about Star Trek, the Kirk and Spock variety. I was only 9 when it was cancelled. By autumn, reruns were on every weekday after school. I learned how to be a leader, how to examine evidence impartially, that you can be beautiful and smart, and that you must never ever where a red shirt to a party. Oh, and good storytelling stands up over time. In retrospect, those characters were as relevant to making me who I am as my teachers and my friends parents, and thanks to Hulu, Amazon On Demand, et al, I can enjoy having them over for a visit every now and again.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Ah, this is where I show my age. I didn't start watching Corrie till the 70's when I was already at work and my formative years had already been shaped by Girl magazine etc! Actually, I don't think of golden eras. I liked certain story lines and they probably jump from one period to another.

Others may disagree but when I look at the very early episodes, they seem to represent the mid to late '50's. This happens often when writers create dramas based on their own early experiences. Oth, there was still a big divide between north and south, and I was brought up in London, so 60's Corrie may have been entirely accurate.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree that we sentimentalise the past, I don't think that people will look back on today's Corrie with the same degree of fondness.

The quality has declined. Five episodes a week makes that inevitable. And TV is no longer the same - it's all about target audiences. I don't think Corrie makes any effort whatsoever to appeal to men of the heterosexual variety. I can't see news of any storyline these days being flashed on the Man Utd scoreboard, as the Ken, Deidre, Mike love triangle was. That audience no longer watches.

Beth said...

I am currently indulging in 1970's Corrie as there doesn't seem to be much else on the tv right now. It was the mid 70's when I started watching but I don't remember much of it until the lorry crashes into the Rovers, that seems to be my first memory.

What strikes me is that episodes were a full 5 mins longer, around 26/ 27 mins when today's can just about stretch to 21/22. Yes I know we now have more episodes, but there were fewer characters then to hold the fort.

And may I say, hold the flipping fort they did.

We may get sentimental about it but we have right to - the characters were excellent and maybe sometimes nothing much happened in some of the episodes but we didn't need wham bam thank you mam and explosions and wrongful imprisonments every second week because we had well rounded and what felt like real life people with soul and depth. As though a lot of time had been taken to think that character through and not thrown together as it feels today. There was warmth and humour, expression and passion in every line. They could all act too which makes a huge difference!

It's not doing me any good watching these episodes because just thinking about what we are served today in comparison is giving me the depressions. Watching last nights episode I would say that it's only Sylvia and Roy that would have fitted in back then. They can act, they have a bit of something about them that truly fits on the street. So many of the characters are so bland. Anna Windass, Tina, Chesney, Katie, Paul, Stella, Sophie, Dev....

Kylie is another with tons of potential and could be another Corrie classic if nurtured and not given a u-turn personality wise which is so often the case.

Hilda, Stan and Eddie with chickens in the back yard - simple, funny and didn't have to try too hard. Eddie Yates and his ice cream van to make a quick bob. Annie Walker, Bet, Betty and Fred Gee behind the bar, priceless. Now the humour is forced as though they are trying too hard and most of the time it flops.

And talking of priceless - I wish we were just that - sorry - but with out that dreadful family, well Gloria and Stella anyway. Sue Johnson is a fantastic actress and could have brought so much to the street. She is awful, nasty, bitter with no redeeming qualities. Shame on them for creating such a monster when she could have been an icon. When they are on I reach for the mute button I'm afraid.

And back in the day Gail Potter was such a sweet likable girl - what happened???

Sorry had to get it off my chest as I feel Corrie is going down the pan and fast. It's nowhere near as good as it was and doesn't seem to be getting any better. If we get another wrongful imprisonment, murder, arsonist, illegitimate baby, affair and rehashed story it will make me rethink, switch off the current Corrie and go back to basics and watch it from the good old days :)

I wish they would stop trying to sensationalise it, stop trying to win awards because this "fan" (and I use that term loosely these days sadly)doesn't care how many awards it wins for "Best sexiest Actress" or whatever other nonsense is out there. What I want to see is quality, continuity and good script writing. Awards is for massaging their own large egos. The fans get nothing out of it.

Ok, I'll get back in my box now....

Anonymous said...

Reads Beth's post. Stands up and applauds...

Mary Prankster said...

The current writers are proving the old theatrical adage "Tragedy is easy. Comedy is hard".
Growing up in Canada exposed us to both British and U.S. comedy, (as well as our own). Both countries have versions of situational and observational humour, but it always seemed that the British was at times subtler and wittier, and at others broader and sillier. Coronation Street reflected that. Now, not so much!


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