Wednesday, 29 June 2011

You can't beat The Street

It’s never been fashionable to like Coronation Street.

Lots of people I know would never admit to watching it and will always be sniffy about it if it comes up in conversation, before betraying themselves with extensive knowledge of the storylines. I’ve got no such hang ups. I’ve been Corrie-out for years now and it’s very liberating.

I’ve been glued to the soap since the big hair days of Elsie Tanner and Bet Lynch. As a kid, I’d watch it with my mum, any subtlety concerning sexual shenanigans going right over my head, but guaranteed a big pay off of an annual punch up between Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin. Invariably, this was over an exposé in the Weatherfield Recorder, causing our resident cockernee to issue his regular, finger wagging threat.

“You print anyfin’ baht me in that raaaaaag of yours, there’ll be twabble, Barlow!”

The thing that differentiates Corrie from any of the competition is that it never takes itself too seriously. Despite dealing with heavyweight issues like murder, adultery and the goings on at the Red Rec, there are always a few laughs to be had. The cleverness of the writing means that the two worlds blend well, unlike Eastenders where you’ve got incestuous murderers or panto characters like Minty trying to mix with each other like oil and water.

As well as just enjoying the Strasse for its longevity and cherished place at the heart of British culture, I love spotting the ever present inaccuracies and general strangeness on display. These are things that would be met with a furrowed brow in real life but are readily accepted within the soap, with tacit complicity between the cast, crew and watching millions. Things like:

• If Coronation Street is terraced and Ken and Deirdre live next door to the Rovers, why doesn’t someone attempting to use the pub toilets emerge in Ken’s kitchen?

• When having conversations, everyone sits well within breath smelling distance of each other.

• There is never a request for anything brand specific. The Rovers is the only pub in Great Britain where a shout for a ‘pint’ isn’t met with the response, ‘of what?’ by the bar staff. The closest anyone ever came to narrowing things down a bit was when Mike Baldwin would ask Rita for a packet of, 'my usual cigars.'

• How the fuck has Weatherfield got a Crown Court?

• Why does everyone drink their brews from empty cups? Some of the less able actors find this difficult to cope with and tend to oversup, then chew whatever their pretending to have in their mouths.

•Why are all affairs or clandestine business affairs conducted at the bar of the Rovers, usually within clear earshot of the victim or cuckolded husband/wife?

• How does a street containing a handful of houses sustain two shops selling broadly similar goods, Dev's and Rita's, when their only customers are their immediate neighbours?

The recent arrival of Sky Plus has allowed me to spot and rewind the occasional continuity errors, like pints of beer consumed in record time or hairstyles changing within the space of a sentence.

The peak example of ours and the cast's ability to turn a blind eye to inaccuracies, is the collective amnesia demonstrated about past plot lines. This allows murderers/robbers/ex-wifes/hated former partners/spurned lovers to all share communal space without recourse to immediate brawling. The character who sums this up perfectly is Gail. Never one to keep her own counsel and as judgmental as fuck, I find it impossible not to comment when she’s lecturing someone with a moral superiority she has no right to claim. A brief scan of her past should mean that the instant response she should be given by anyone she’s looking down on is:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Gail! You’ve got a bit of a nerve. You’ve been married four times, once to a serial killer. Only one of your husbands has survived marriage to you. You carried out a five year feud with your mother in law. You’ve been divorced twice. Your daughter got knocked up when she was thirteen. You’ve had punch ups in the middle of the street with Eileen Grimshaw and the Barlows, mother and daughter. You’ve had to attend parenting classes because David was such a gobshite at school. You were going to have your perfectly sane mother sectioned. You’ve been banged up on remand and when you finally managed to get a decent job you betrayed doctor/patient confidentiality and got sacked, so fuck off, right!!”

This speech is applicable to any character with more than two years service with the notable exception of Emily (though it is the opinion of some conspiracy theorists that she had some involvement in the murder of Ernie. They say that hers is the shadow at bottom right).

I never miss it. It has it’s occasional dips in form, but as the t-shirt I once spotted on Market Street, Manchester said.

“You can beat your meat, but you can’t beat the Street.”

1 comment:

  1. Second only, in continuity gaffs, to Crossroads. Not that I ever watched either!