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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Should Coronation Street be relevant - or fun?

There's an excellent article in today's Guardian by writer Stuart Jeffries who asks the question, "Soap operas: has the bubble burst?"  The tag line runs: "From Coronation Street to EastEnders, soap operas once dominated British TV. Now, beset by disgraced stars and plummeting ratings, they are struggling to remain relevant"

When I read yesterday online that 'hard man' actor Danny Dyer was being brought into EastEnders to run the Queen Vic after a crop of actors were getting the boot from that show, I thought to myself 'I'm glad I'm not an EastEnders fan'.  I can't be doing with Danny Dyer, me.   But I remain very happy indeed to be a Corrie watcher.

In the Guardian article, Stuart Jeffries wonders if soaps are still relevant, but I would question whether they ever were, and indeed, ever should be.  They're fun, they're froth, they've over the top. Soaps are cartoon drama, ratings-boosting TV, advertising-selling TV.  They don't have to be relevant, but they do have to be quality to keep the viewers' interest piqued five times a week, never-ending, non-stop.

There are some quotes in the article from top woman Christine Geraghty - author of the fab book Women and Soap Opera, and both that book and the Guardian article are worth a read.

It's here.

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Digger said...

Why does it have to be either/or? Surely it's not impossible for them to be both fun AND relevant? Sure, I agree, fun comes first, and no-one likes being beaten over the head with "da message" when they want to be entertained, but Corrie (and *spit* EE) still have large audiences - larger than most regular shows - so I think they DO have a place in educating, enlightening, discussing 'relevant' topics. It just needs to be done in clever, subtle ways.

Peter @peterprandradio said...

Regarding "fun," I think there's a difference between a funny or cleverly-written or acted scene and when soaps go beyond what is fun and true-to-life.

For example, Michelle's mocking of Steve the other night over Ryan leaving was relevant - i.e. the man might try to advise a youngster in what to do, but, in some ways, the joke was not only did Ryan get off the sofa, but on to a plane. By the way,. is he flying Ryanair(?!)

However, one reason I stopped watching Corrie in the 90s was t6he over-the-top humour between Jack and Vera. I didn't find some of their scenes, nor relevant in 90s Britain.

More recently, the paperboy scene was a non-event - almost as if producers realised they were short of scenes and had to add something! That happened occasionally in The Professionals in the 70s. There's a scene in "Mixed Doubles" where Bodie and Doyle spend several minutes discussing drink and women - nothing to do with the main plot of three guys trying assassinate a foreign leader, but it filled some space.

Is Corrie relevant? I would say so - it covers most elements of people's lives, from the young to the old.

My issue is not with Corrie's relevance, but how they string out some stories too long - Munro and the fire - but whizz through others - the spat between Carla and Michelle, which I HOPE lasts longer than two episodes.

Sunny Jim said...

I've just seen this tweeted:

"...Corrie is averaging 9.4m (39%), up 4% volume and 7% share YoY. Emmerdale averages 7.2m (34%), up 1% volume and 3% in share. "

So this article is just the same thing that comes round every no and again. The only person in the article that seemed to be demanding relevancy from Soaps was Phil Redmond. It was ever thus.

Anonymous said...

I agree, soaps can be both fun and relevant. In the article, I found Phil Redmond's comment about a soap for the over-55s interesting. Now, I'm nowhere near 55, but take the point about the crash-bang-whallop, over-the-top, headline-grabbing and viewer-upping storylines, and the fixation on youth, as embodied in the endless "sexiest male/female" awards. But then this is a point that has been made on this blog over and over - back to the basics!-NN

Anonymous said...

The minute soaps become 'relevant' will be the time I stop watching. They are for entertainment purposes only. 'Dallas' was the biggest nightly soap opera of all time (IMO) disguised as a weekly serial. When a soap becomes too realistic, it loses viewers. EE is sinking fast because it just can't lighten up - it's so dark and dreary. Corrie has fantastic comedy thrown in with ridiculous storylines that can only exist in the fantasy world of the soap opera.


Humpty Dumpty said...

Some elements of Corrie seem to be written purely for fun as though it was a sitcom eg: Gail and her Mrs Mop act in the Bistro. Excruciating, but when the comedy comes naturally through the characters it can be wonderful eg Steve and Lloyd in the cab office on a quiet night. I don't want 'relevance' to become issue-led and possibly dreary but the occasional line reflecting real life problems would be welcome eg Emily and Rita wondering who will care for them in their old age. Will they have to sell their homes to finance care? Not a big storyline but just a short scene where the oldies discuss the future.

Anonymous said...

If I want relevant I'll watch the news. If I want fun and interesting, I'll watch the Street.

Stevie said...

Sunny Jim is right. It's a regurgitated argument, which itself is irrelevant considering the high proportional viewing figures for soaps.

And our Corrie is both fun and relevant, and always will be :)

Janice said...

Soaps are losing their relevance in our lives because we now have Reality TV which satisfies out need to gossip, to pry and to judge. We also have the internet and Youtube where everyday people from ordinary life behave in a daft and entertaining way. American soaps have undergone a massive cull. I don't think British soaps are far behind.

Ping Pong Poo said...

There are so mamy channels to choose from these days and nearly every story n Corriehas been covered and done before. Soaps seem to be just a merry go round of affairs with the same people, one night stands, unwanted pregnancies and someone is rushed into hospital only to be fully recovered in a week. There is no suspense or surprise any longer, we all know what is going to happen weeks in advance as its screamed from the media. Emmerdale and Corrie seem to constantly mirror each other with storylines

Joseph said...

Soaps can't be both? Corrie seems to be doing a good job mixing the relevant with the fun. In fact the cancer storyline alone is doing both!

Personally I don't think it matters. We watch for entertainment and escapism. If the writers do want to support relevant issues, then go them!

Newfy Pearl said...

I am a Corrie fan..have been for years. But I see online people who are supposedly fans complain about half the characters and half the storylines. So if this is from fans.....just saying.

Frosty the Snowman said...

I also think it should be a bit of both - yes its escapism but that shouldnt come at the price of being totally unrealistic. Sometimes the lack of attention to any detail, realism or the past is annoying to say the least. But when has Corrie been "fun" lately? We get the odd witty line but usually its one big moanfest with sourpusses like Tina, Katy and Gail at the fore.


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