Okay … time to fess-up. We all have them so why not admit it? I’m referring to those silly little things that give us a bit of simple happiness from time-to-time and are often called “guilty pleasures” although that does conjure up something more exotic. Maybe it’s a warm fuzzy feeling from a too saccharine song; “Feelings” leaps to mind, but that’s not my guilty pleasure. Nope, for me it’s Coronation Street; that group of Mancurians who have made their way into my living room since I was a wee lad.
It first aired in the UK in 1960 and since the early sixties has been broadcast in Canada, albeit with a delay that has varied from several months to the current mere days. The delay is due to periods of time when Corrie gets bumped for hockey play-offs or Olympic coverage. The CBC has moved Corrie in the daily line-up on several occasions. I can recall it airing in the mid-afternoon, late afternoon, during the dinner hour and now in its pre-prime-time slot of 7:30 pm. Of course for those who miss an episode there is always the Sunday morning omnibus rebroadcast of all the week’s shows. That’s two and a half hours (once five hours) straight!
A few years ago, in an effort to get Canadian viewers caught up with the UK the CBC started airing 10 half-hour episodes a week, two shows back-to-back every day. This certainly cut into the lag and has brought us almost even with the UK. I suspect the reason for this was the Internet.
In the world before the Internet (yes that actually existed) we Corrie fans in Canada had to rely on friends and relatives in the UK to feed us bits of storyline and gossip that were yet to air here. With the Internet now chock-a-block with Coronation Street sites, both official and not, there is ample opportunity to watch “spoilers” (sure, we could restrain ourselves and refuse to do a little research – sure we could!!) and know exactly what to expect.
But not for too long, as it seems Canadian viewers will soon be watching the same episodes that air in the UK, having essentially caught up. For those who are desperate, the significant time difference between Canada and England should give them some relief – a few hours to spoil the surprise!
At first the show was in grainy black and white but now in full HD. The whole concept has adapted over the years to changing audiences as well. Where once the depiction of everyday life in a Manchester area town – Weatherfield – consisted mostly of great characters and superb dialogue things are more sensational now. Coronation Street, a back street, has seen more than its share of tram crashes, viaduct collapses, kidnappings, fires, business hi-jinks, marriages, divorces, re-marriages, pregnancies, and abortions: it is, after all, a television show.
I tried to think of who my all-time favorite character is but had to settle for two candidates (guess that makes them Mancurian Candidates): Ena Sharples and Danny Baldwin are the ones I found most enjoyable. These two were on in different eras, and were very different, but great examples of what Coronation Street is.
Maybe I won’t feel guilty; I just won’t call it a soap opera!