I’m about to deal with a phenomenon that is rather close to my heart and that may be close to yours, but that most likely leaves you indifferent or baffled. I am referring to the longest running soap opera (or kitchen sink drama, as they say on the other side of the pond) on British TV (and soon the whole world), Coronation Street.
What is it about the show that inspires such devotion in fans like me, who watch the show religiously, to the point of getting cross with my friends should they have the audacity to call me when the show is on.
Firstly, a bit of trivia for you. The show was first broadcast back in 1960 on Granada TV in the UK. Since that historic moment, it’s gone from strength to strength and is one of Britain’s most successful cultural institutions having been exported to Canada at least since the 70’s. In this country the show is one of CBC’s highest rated programs and is shown in prime time. Mind you, we’re 10 months behind British audiences, leading to the temptation to cheat by asking your friends in the UK for spoilers! Incidentally, if you’re an American anglophile who loves the “Street”, you’re out of luck. The show has never been syndicated in the U.S.
This, of course, hardly answers the obvious question: Why the devil would any Canadian get hooked on such a show? In my case, it’s partly due to the fact that I used to live in the U.K and the show reminds of those days, both good and bad. The society that revolves around your local pub (The famous Rovers Return), the working class humour and the endless talk about football. But it’s also the feeling that, in terms of real life situations and realistic characters, no show on TV delivers more. No American show or Canadian show has ever portrayed the life of ordinary folks, warts and all, so convincingly.
When you consider how many episodes of the show air every week, the quality of the writing is astonishing, consistently providing a study in the drama and issues of everyday life. If one criticism of the show rings true, it is that it is pretty damn hard to get into in the first place. However, its soon becomes highly addictive and, like any good well kept secret, once your in the know you have access to a compelling world that to some extent resembles your own and you will always share with all the other fans, even if most of them happen to be 60 year old Grans!