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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Corrie boss claims soap writers are better than Shakespeare

Apart from: "Romeo, Romeo, wherefor art thou, Romeo?" I know very few Shakespeare quotes.  But get me on the subject of my favourite Coronation Street quotes, and we'd be here all day with a blog post as long as Rita's tenure in the Kabin.

And while William Shakespeare may be the world’s greatest playwright – he wouldn’t get a job on Corrie, says ITV soap creative director John Whiston in today's Mirror

John's defended the use of a Shakespeare sonnet for the recently released ITV soaps drama video, saying:  “Having read a lot of his stuff, I think Shakespeare would be lucky to get a job on either of our soaps.”

What do you think, Corrie fans?  I think it's difficult to compare Corrie to Shakespeare, but I firmly believe that soaps and drama such as Coronation Street are more relevant than Shakespeare ever will be and as worthy of study too.   I wrote essays on Coronation Street all the way through my undergrad degree, whenever I could turn the subject to the Street, and followed on with this to postgrad level too. If you would like an academic resource for all things Corrie, it's here.

From Coronation Street fan John Beresford:
If Corrie writers were Shakespeare:
All the world's a street, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time has many affairs.
Some are born drunk, some achieve drunkness, and some have drunkness thrust upon them.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a red wig.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still give Norris hay-fever.
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred beneath the factory floor.

If Shakespeare were a Corrie writer:
David Platt: It is a wise father that knows his own child.
Watchword for Tracy: For I can raise no money by vile means.
Roy Cropper: If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
Steve, about Tracy: I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire

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15 comments:

Peter @peterprandradio on Twitter said...

I like Corrie, but I think that's like comparing Usain Bolt and Mo Farah or Murray and Woods. Not comparing like with like.

I didn't like the trailer, anyway. This maybe unfair, but I can't see Michelle Keegan knowing much about Shakespeare! Plus, in the Chris Gascoyne segment, it looked like he wasn't in the Street, but had filmed it elsewhere, with some Street shot placed behind him.

abbyk said...

Tracy, after clomping Charlie Stubbs - out out damned spot, yeah, whatever.

Digger said...

If Corrie writers were Shakespeare:

All the world's a street, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time has many affairs.

Some are born drunk, some achieve drunkness, and some have drunkness thrust upon them.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a red wig.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still give Norris hay-fever.

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred beneath the factory floor.

If Shakespeare were a Corrie writer:

David Platt: It is a wise father that knows his own child.
Watchword for Tracy: For I can raise no money by vile means.
Roy Cropper: If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
Steve, about Tracy: I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire.

Stephen said...

Shakespeare is overrated and incomprehensible; don't you remember your schooldays?

Corra is ripping fun: comedy, pathos and downright wickedness.

Now choose.

Cobblestone said...

Shakespeare's works contain all the elements of human drama that soaps depend upon. John Whiston is something of on idiot if he thinks Shakespeare couldn't write for Corrie, since, if WS 'were alive today', he would not be writing in an Elizabethan idiom, but in contemporary English, bringing his extraordinary insights and sympathies to bear on the plotlines. In his day, Shakespeare was adept not only at the heightened courtly drama, but also the raunchy, vulgar comedy of the masses, which is born out by the fact that one in four people in Elizabethan London visited the theatre at least once a week. It was not an elitist form of entertainment, but the standard entertainment of the masses - just like the soaps. It's certainly true that Shakespeare is more often than not very badly taught in our schools, which is why so many people have the idea that he is unaccessible and dull, but nothing could be further from the truth and it's unfair to condemn the writer for the shortcomings of many contemporary teachers. Stephen, if you want "ripping fun, comedy, pathos and downright wickedness", I promise you, you'd find them all in a high quality production of Shakespeare. I've seen audiences crying with laughter when it's done well. I once performed Benedick in 'Much Ado' open-air in Bristol Zoo Gardens once, and a pair of gorillas sat at the back and watched the entire first half - how's that for universal appeal? ;)

Billy Niblick said...

Well, Cobblestone has just about said it all for me. Except to add, Nora, that if you really think that Corrie is more "relevant" (whatever relevancy has got to do with it) than Shakespeare, I don't see Corrie scripts from 50 years ago - or even 5 years ago, or 1 year ago - being performed regularly today in the way that Shakespeare's works from 500 years ago are still performed everywhere today. Corrie is disposable tosh, but very enjoyable. It's frequently absolutely nothing like any sort of reflection of actuality, as is frequently bemoaned on this website, but it's entertaining. However, let's not kid ourselves that it is drama that in any way bears favourable comparison with Shakespeare.

Joseph said...

I haven't read much Shakespeare(and what I have, I didn't particularly like)so I'm biased towards Corrie - but I've always thought Tracy, Beth, and Eva are similar to the witches in Macbeth :p

Anonymous said...

I've taught Shakespeare to Uni youth for almost 20 years and I agree absolutely with Cobblestone: the guy had his finger on the pulp of humanity. It's why I didn't appreciate it when I was young. I was all into James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, but now I know better. Recycled plots have always been cash cows and Shakespeare is one of our greatest recyclers!

vicky said...

Shakespeare's works were the contemporary equivalent of soap operas in his times. It was entertainment for the masses, not primarily intended for elites. Like a soap writer, Shakespeare revisited the same themes again and again, sought to break tension with humourous asides and was interested in human cruelty and frailty. He also knew the value of a good fight scene. I think he probably could get a job on Corrie, actually.

Having said that, the advert is just bizarre and without meaning to be cruel, I get the feeling some of those actors don't actually understand the meanings of the words they're saying.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Shakespeare in his time, Dickens in his time and tv soaps in our time. All these works deal with the human condition. I would say that Corrie is more *immediate* because of the medium of tv, but not necessarily more relevant. Where are the stories about unemployment (forget cash converters); political corruption; vaulting ambition etc. Corrie doesn't reflect real life, but it is hugely entertaining with its character studies. IMO, the stories are often irrelevant eg suddenly, Peter loses the bookies; ridiculous, but wonderful to watch him with Carla. From time to time, we get the gems, like Hayley's story. And would we have got that if JH had been staying?

Zagg said...

Well I am happy that I am higher on the food chain and enjoy Shakespeare. Sorry, but if this Corrie boss thinks his writers are better than Shakespeare then he is just a bit pathetic and living in lala land.

Anonymous said...

Cobblestone put it well. If anyone is still watching/studying/writing about Coronation Street in 2613 then I might reconsider my opinion that Shakespeare being less relevant than Corrie or not being good enough to write it are some of the most stupid things I have ever read.

corrieqooq said...

The globe theatre was replaced by the glass teat/boob tube and WS wasn't that high brow, but popular entertainment. He would have been a Corrie writer in its early days, under a pen name:)

The.HR.Doctor said...

General response to the blog: Corrie writers aren't remotely comparable to Bill.

Having written that, I do give them credit for the intense pressure they're under to deliver on new story lines day-in and day-out.

Sometimes it works (Kirsty, Lewis Archer, John Stape) and sometimes it's sh-te (Peter Barlow, Tracy Barlow, Brarlow Barlow).

Chatty Kathy said...

I can't add much to what Cobblestone said, except that the bard was able to wrap up all plots in 2 hours. The Corrie writers just let it drag on, and on, and on...

At least that's how I remember it, because I haven't watched Corrie in months.

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