Thursday, December 09, 2010

Coronation Street's glorious Golden Jubilee

By magic this post will appear just a few minutes before the live episode to be broadcast this evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the "serial drama" (as they're called these days) Coronation Street.

When I was growing up, we watched Corrie more religiously than we went to Church. The first episode I can remember watching was Emily Bishop's wedding to Ernest on Easter Monday in 1972. I remember we'd been at the beach at Nairn and had to rush back for this great event. I watched pretty much every single episode until I left my parents' home and then dipped in and out of it occasionally.

It's probably about 10 years since I watched it regularly but I was really keen to see this week's special week of episodes, with its dramatic and devastating explosion and tram crash. I watched it all of last week to get a sense of what was going on in it and was pleased to see that the show's key strength, its excellent characterisation, was still very much in evidence. While like all soaps it has sensational story lines, its characters are believable and very human. Many of the problems they face are the sorts of things that we all struggle with, relationships, work, infertility. I'm really pleased with the fact that they've had a teenager come out as a lesbian and be completely accepted by her family and friends.  Maybe not her church, but she kicked them into touch.

When the programme appeared on the scene, it brought northern accents to the screen on a regular basis. Until then people plummy, posh BBC English was the norm. It provided a realistic, grittier view of life than was generally seen in dramas at the time and it was hugely popular amongst ordinary people. I remember in 1983 that they even interrupted football matches to tell the crowd that Deirdre had decided to stay with Ken - a wise decision in my view, despite the actor who plays Ken being a rabid Tory.

I've found the episodes so far absolutely compelling. The first episode on Monday night set the scene for who was where when the disaster happened. In a whirlwind of scenes, gathering pace and tension with every round we saw,:

  • the mother leave her husband after telling him he wasn't the father of her baby, head for the shop on the way to leave the street forever, meet the actual father of her baby who received some of the most gorgeously beatific from the wee tot - how they managed that I'll never know
  • the two men gathering in the office of the bar, one about to tell the other, who was on his stag night, that he'd been having an affair with his fiancee until they are joined by a third man, popping in to say goodbye
  • the fun game of hide and seek going on in one of the houses
  • the man murder the woman who was about to destroy his life with a hammer
  • the hen party in the pub attended by many of the street's women folk, including the pregnant wife of hammer man
  • the child who's gone missing while staying with his auntie
  • the veteran resident, who'd planned to go out, changed her mind and went home instead Bad, bad decision.
The accident itself and the special effects were absolutely brilliant, very dramatic and the quality of the acting has been extremely good.

Last night's episode had me in bits as Ashley, the raspy voiced local butcher, who's been a stalwart of the cast for the last 15 years was crushed to death after valiantly saving the guy he was trapped with.

Worse than that, though, the young mum, who's trapped in the rubble, was found, but looks to be in a bad way. The moment when they took the baby away from her really made me blub as I imagined what it must have felt like for her to worry that she was going to die and would never see him again.

Tonight, there's an hour long live episode. I remember the one they did 10 years ago for the 40th anniversary. I can imagine the excitement on the set that's building now as the cast no longer have the safety net of another take if they get it wrong. On EastEnders' live episode earlier this year, Strictly sensation Scott Maslen fluffed his lines at a key moment.

My prediction for tonight is that Molly will die and that Peter will be discovered to have some mortal injury and will marry Leanne before he dies. I have no idea what actually is going to happen, but that's how I read the runes of what's been going on. Others in peril include Sunita, Rita (who nobody has realised is missing) and Fiz's little baby. In the midst of all of this, her husband has to work out what to do with the body of the woman he murdered.. I really hope that Rita is not going to die. She's been in the show for forty odd years and I don't want her to go like this.

The fake news flashes they have on the Coronation Street website are very, very eerie.

Anyway, I am looking forward to another assault on my emotions tonight - as if I haven't already had one this afternoon. Happy Golden Jubilee to all the cast and crew, past and present, of Corrie.

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