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Monday 22 April 2019

Talk of the Street: Interview with overseas Corrie Podcast

It’s been almost a year since The Talk of the Street podcast started, a weekly catch-up podcast from Michigan, USA that takes an  irreverent look at the past week’s happenings on the cobbles.

Coronation Street Blogger @merseytart, who writes the fabulous Five Things We Learned This Week, took some time with the podcast’s co-hosts, Gavin and Helen, to chat about the show, the podcast, empty cups, and all that lovely swearing.

Scott: One of you is American, one of you is British (although you’re now naturalised, of course). How did you end up watching Corrie together?

Helen: We were in a hotel close to the US / Canadian border. Gav was in the shower and I had just flipped on the TV. It was the Canadian station, CBC, and Gav bolts out of the bathroom and yells, “Where did you find Coronation Street?” It was a reminder of home for him.

Gav: It’s worth noting, it was a horrible hotel. I was in the middle of a phase of booking us into horrible hotels. I hadn’t thought about Coronation Street for a couple of years and then all of a sudden, I’m in the bathroom listening to the theme tune coming from the bedroom. I came out, and there is was. And it took absolutely no time to figure out what was going on, and who was who. It was like I’d never stopped watching.

Scott: Gav, how long have you been watching the show?

Gav: I’ve been watching Corrie on and off for as long as I can remember. My mum never missed an episode. Her parents never missed an episode. So it became something that just always existed in my life. In the 00s I kinda dropped it and then I moved over to the US in 2012. Then I noticed they had a years’ worth of episodes on Hulu so I started binge-watching and got caught up. I got frustrated with Hulu not being up to date and taking ages to drop new episodes so switched to BritBox, where the episodes land shortly after they air in the UK. I think some of the fun comes from not having an encyclopedic knowledge of the show. Helen is keen to ask me questions she knows I don’t know the answer to. We get stuff wrong all the time and we own that.

Scott: How did you introduce it to Helen? Did she need persuading?

Gav: It happened organically, really. I’d be sitting at the computer watching it, Helen would be working away in the room, doing other things, and she’d sneak glances and then she’d start laughing and commenting and then she sat next to me and officially started watching it. So she was watching the show for probably three or four months before we started the podcast.

Helen: I grew up with a game show mom, not a soap mom, but Gav is a master of persuasion.

Gav: I wasn’t aware of that. Good to know.

Scott: Why did you decide to turn your Corrie watching into a podcast?

Helen: We first started with the idea for our Common Language podcast, where we look at the differences between the US and the UK. It was so much fun we wanted to branch out.

Gav:  I actually wanted to do a podcast about how much I hate How I Met Your Mother, but Helen had no interest in doing that, so we decided on Corrie, given we were watching it anyway. We’re both creative people. We’re both writers. My debut novel, The Scottish Book of the Dead, came out in October last year. Helen has a book of poetry on Amazon called Melons and Memories. We’re both used to writing and critiquing. I haven’t really written all that much since around 2015ish, but I think the podcasts satisfy my creative desires.

Scott: What I like about the podcast is you’re not precious about the show and are happy to criticise as well as compliment. Also you swear a lot. What have been the highlights and lowlights since you started?

Gav: I’m really pleased you think that because that’s exactly what we hope to do. We’ll happily praise it where we think it’s earned, but we’re not afraid to be outside the tent peeing in, so to speak. But look, if we didn’t love the show, we wouldn’t watch it. Everything we say should be taken from the perspective that we love it, but on the understanding that sometimes we don’t particularly like it. We swear a lot because I swear a lot. I have to rein myself in for the other podcasts we do, particularly SpongeBob SquareCast, which I do with my ten-year-old step-daughter. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it makes me laugh.

Helen: I swear more on the podcast than I do in real life! Because Corrie isn’t something I grew up with, it’s easy to not be precious about it because I don’t have an emotional attachment to it. If the podcast were about Star Wars or comic books you’d probably see a different side of me. The highlights for me are there are so many great female characters I relate to in some way.  I was running for public office when Sally was mayor, I’m sloppy like Gemma, I relate to all of the moms in some way. The lowlights are the issues I see with classism, lack of people of color, characters and storylines that limit female characters in unrealistic ways.

Gav: Highlights for me are always the bits that I enjoy describing. I put some effort into my notes — I usually write around 6,000 words a week — and I hope they’re entertaining. There are definitely times where that’s easier to do than others. When Roy rumbled the medium last summer and discovered Nigel Havers was behind it all was a joy to describe because it was hilarious to watch. I normally get a kick out of stuff involving Steve, Tim, and Dev. There’s something really lovely about that friendship. This past week with Chesney and Gemma in the caravan was probably a standout low point in proceedings. But my absolute favorite moment from our podcast was when I wrote to Squire padlocks in October last year, asking them to sponsor us because they feature in one of the little pre-advert indents on the show and my grandad’s garage had a Squire lock on it.  I hoped that they’d get the joke and respond in kind which would give us something to talk about for a few minutes on the show. But they wrote back saying sure, totally calling my bluff, and for a month we were sponsored by Squire. It’s an odd wee life sometimes.

Scott: Who are the characters you enjoy the most, and who do you really dislike?

Helen: I love Abi, Sally, Emma, Steve, David, Imran, Mary, and Roy. I loathe Peter, Daniel, and Ken. The only member of that family I like is Tracy because female villains and antagonists are a lot more interesting to me.

Gav: I love Emma, I used to love Gemma. I feel like I know Steve. I think Isabella Flannagan who plays Hope does an outstanding job for being so young. I can’t stand Tim’s Dad. I’m sure I’m not supposed to like him, so credit where it’s due, but he really grinds my gears. I also hate that the show insists Daniel and Sinead are married. They’re not.

Scott: Who’s winning the Empty Cup Awards? Is there a front runner for Best Acting With An Empty Cup, and will there be an award for Least Convincing Handling of a Costa Takeaway Mug?

Gav: I love the Empty Cup Awards. I’ve been 45 summers on this planet and never realized this was a thing, then one night Helen said to me, “There’s nothing in that cup, is there?” and after that it’s impossible not to see them. I’ve grabbed about ten or eleven instances and I haven’t really decided what to do with them all. I have one video that’s about three minutes long that has them all back to back. I’ll probably throw it on Twitter and do a poll to let listeners and Corrie fans decide at the end of the year. A strong front runner is Toyah in the cafe with Imran where she brings over two cups that couldn’t be more obviously empty supposing they were transparent. Brian also had a belter the other week where he doubled down and took two big sips from a cup that clearly had nothing in it.

Helen: I still have a soft spot for the Abi and Peter empty cups on the boat. I find the ceramic mugs far more convincing than the paper ones.

Scott: You’re coming up to your first anniversary of podcasting. Have you anything special planned?

Gav: Personally, I think we’ll privately just take a moment to appreciate that we’ve made it to a year and we have a band of listeners who seem to enjoy what we do and interact with us week after week, and we’ve made a few friends from the experience. It’s pretty cool when you take a step back and think about it.

Helen: Maybe after a year, I’ll finally get Gav to watch the US Office so we can compare it the UK one on our Common Language podcast.

Scott: Helen, Gav, thanks very much!

You can follow The Talk of the Street @corriepodcast on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to the show wherever you typically get your podcasts. 

Their website is here where you can also listen to their podcast.

Scott is @merseytart on Twitter.

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