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Wednesday 16 April 2014

Does familiarity breed contempt on Corrie?

While browsing on Digital Spy this morning, I came across an article about the cast of Eastenders getting their photo taken. While I’ve never watched Eastenders, I was always familiar with the characters and would tune in if the episode was exciting. But looking at today’s cast photo I was shocked to see how little of them I actually recognised. The only familiar faces I knew included Dot Cotton, Ian Beale, Phil Mitchell and Sharon Watts. Gone were the likes of Frank and Pat Butcher, Pauline Fowler and Peggy Mitchell to name a few. It suddenly hit me how the show has changed in the last 10 years, not to mention since it began back in 1985. Out of the original cast, only Ian Beale remains.

This got me thinking about Corrie and its cast. The show has been fortunate, or you may think it’s unfortunate, to have cast members that have been with the show for many years. While Ken Barlow of course has been in the show since the beginning, and Emily isn’t far behind him, many others have given a long and loyal service to the show. Rita, Deirdre and Gail have been in the show for 40 years while others like Audrey, Kevin, Sally and Steve have been in the show for 25 to 30 years. Other current characters like Roy, Norris, Tyrone, Maria, Fiz and Dev have also been in the show for many years.

Coronation Street has always had long running characters with even legendary names like Hilda Ogden, Bet Lynch, Elsie Tanner and Annie Walker appearing on the show for over 20 years. Others include the Duckworths, Alf Roberts, Betty Turpin, Mike Baldwin and Mavis Wilton.

I believe for a show to succeed, and Corrie has succeeded (we can’t argue with that), it should embrace change but also keep those familiarities. Over the years, if you popped in and out of Corrie, you were always assured that when you returned, Betty would be dishing out hotpot and Rita would be serving behind the Kabin counter. I think that’s one of the things that attracts me to Corrie – that sense of history and familiarity. 

While other soaps have had huge cast changes over the years, Corrie has always maintained and kept its old guard. But, in recent years we have lost some long servers and over the next decade or so we will lose others. But I think we should be grateful that we have had them for so long!

So what do you think? Are you glad that there are so many familiar faces still in Corrie? Or do you welcome more new faces? Does familiarity breed contempt?

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Kristine said...

Familiarity breeds loyal viewers. I'm watching Classic Corrie thanks to Auntie Corrie on YouTube and am only at September 1984 - a year that saw the loss of many a familiar face - Annie Walker, Fred, Stan, Bert, Elsie. Sorry to see them go, but so glad many other "regulars" are still around.

70sStreetFan said...

It seems to with the writers and producers. Of the six longest servers,only Gail and,to a lesser extent,Rita feature prominently in stories these days.

Anonymous said...

I think that familiarity breeds loyal viewers for sure.
I've watched Corrie from the first year the CBC introduced it to Canadians and I've loved seeing 'regulars' year after year. Of course new residents are always welcome, but the continuity of familiar faces in the show is what makes it special and more realistic.
Having too many new characters and so many of them isn't that appealing to me.
What I also don't like is when a different writing team decides to change a character's personality, such as what they did to Gail for a time and Rita too.
I like to see any character explored more deeply, so that their actions seem more probable than unlikely and that isn't happening so much anymore.

Glenda Young said...

Very interesting point of view Llifon...!

Anonymous said...

I love your posts, Llifon! Post more please!

Anonymous said...

I definitely want a mix of the old and the new faces. There are people in Corrie who have been there as long as I have been watching (since 1973) and they are as familiar a part of my life as my family.

On the subject of EastEnders, it also strikes me that its viewership is similarly transient. You get a very vocal set of teenish viewers pontificating on Digital Spy but they couldn't tell you much about the programme over five or ten years ago whereas we Corrie fans know seemingly everything back to 1960!!

John McE said...

It always amazes me, with it's very high turnover of cast, how EastEnders keeps its core viewers. As others have said, we might dislike some long-running characters (Dev!), but by keeping a long-running cast we, as viewers, at least feel we know them.

Chewy said...

Corrie does well to hang onto it's cast members, though sometimes it does mean that characters overstay their welcome. I do think the show sometimes strays into being too nostalgic, and not moving along with the times (eg, when Norris renamed The Kabin, it was changed back immediately) sometimes it feels like the street isnt allowed to change anything that has been there for more than 15 years.

Wim said...

I'm a faithful EastEnders viewer who's only discovered Corrie a couple of years ago (when ITV finally became available in Belgium), but I've since been catching up with life on the cobbles through books, websites and dvd box sets. And yes, if there's one thing Corrie is to be commended for, it's their long-term characters.

Although EastEnders still has a handful of its original cast (Ian Beale, as mentioned, but Sharon has also been there since the very beginning, and Dot - although not seen for the first sixty-odd episodes - was already referred to from the start as Nick Cotton's mother), it's true that its cast turnover is much more noticeable, especially since losing Pauline, Pat and Frank, etc.

For me, an ideal soap is one that regularly introduces new faces, but that treasures the long-standing cast it owes so much of its success to as well.

So if I'm still around for Corrie's 100th and EastEnders' 75th birthdays, I'm hoping there will still be some Barlows, Beales, Websters and Mitchells left.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree. Since January, EE has improved dramatically under the new producer who has brought in lots of new faces, and it's working perfectly.

Corrie on the other hand is going round in circles with characters like Peter, Tina, Sophie etc. and it's boring. They should take a leaf out of EE's book and stop stagnation.

Rosie said...

Can't comment on EE, the last time I tuned in Den was shot by a bunch of daffodils !!! But Corrie, well it's like seeing old friends, I've been watching since the the very beginning. It's nice to have new faces but I really wouldn't want the oldies to go, it's history is very important to the The Street.

Anonymous said...

EE had no choice BUT to improve going off its state over the past couple of years!!

Anonymous said...

I think familuairty does breed contempt in the sense that despite the large cast, the same characters,Barlows,McDonalds, Platts,Websters and Tina are seen over and over again in dragged out storylines.When there was a smaller cast, there was a better mix of characters and shorter storylines.Now it's the same families in longer storylines while other characters are pushed aside.

Jan Quigley said...

I love all the 'old' faces on Corrie, they feel like family to me they are so familiar. I was born the same year as Corrie, 1960, & I watched it with my mum in the 60's. It hasn't always been screened here in Oz, but when it has been on, I've watched it. I watched Eastenders from the beginning until it was dropped here, I watched again when it came back, but gave it up when it just seemed to become a bit seedy, after Pauline left. I liked all the original characters, Den & Angie, the Beales, Fowlers, but the basic family feel went & it just didn't work for me. I can't ever imagine a day when I don't want to watch Corrie.


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