When I was a useless, substance-dependent student living in the North of England, my day wasn’t complete without six cans of Spar Lager, a pouch of Drum tobacco, a hangover that made me question my very existence and, if conditions would allow, a few wheezes on the bum-sucked spliffs a pal had rolled. On top of this, if it was a weekday around five pm, I would become sucked into the world of Soap Opera after waking up in a filthy bed surrounding by pornography and dried blood. I was the type of lad you could take home to meet your mother.
My soap opera crawl would start on the other side of the globe. An antipodean hour of festering shit beginning at Yabby Creek, waddling along Summer Bay and ending up in Ramsay Street via the international business park that is Paul Robinson’s Lassiters. After confirming that I would be closer each day to Home and Away and being reminded that I might one day find the perfect blend, I’d pop over to Chester.
Hollyoaks passed in a whirl of horrific acting, idiotic trendy boys and dead-eyed blonde girls who looked like they’d been reanimated by a pervert. Emmerdale came next and I literally can’t remember a single thing about it, apart from Seth’s fantastic moustache.
After that, and Christ only knows why, I would subject myself to the mind-hammering that is Coronation Street. Or ‘The Street’, if you are over 60, work in the tabloids or are a complete twat.
It has been ten years since I was in that dark, dark place and last night, more by harsh luck than judgement, I sat through an entire episode of Coronation Street. It was a harsh reminder that television truly does rot the brain.
Very little in Corrie had changed. Roy Cropper was still going out with a transexual who was played by a born-woman, defeating the point of the fact that he’s going out with a transexual. Tyrone is still fat and stupid, but is now hairy and fat and stupid. Ashley still speaks like someone’s treading on his little toe. Kevin still looks even weirder without a moustache than with one.
Betty is still alive. That was a shock. And she’s still rooted to the same spot in the Rovers Return, banging on about her fucking hotpot. Poor cow. She’s surely earned herself a stay at an above average retirement home by now so the producers should do the decent thing and pack her off to one. And throw away the key.
The biggest shock came when I saw Gail’s boy – the one who was about six years old ten years ago and seemed like the most amazing child actor I’d ever seen. ‘He’s got a bright future, that one’ I thought to myself, all those years ago. Last night proved me bang wrong.
He’s turned into one of the worst actors I’ve seen in my life. In last night’s storyline he’d left his niece alone with a doll which had ecstasy pills hidden within its plastic torso (a la Danny in Withnail and I). The little kid (Bethany, I think) obviously ingested a few of these embalmers and we were subjected to the sight of this former child actor hollering and banging the furniture in frustration in the most unrealistic soap set-piece I’ve ever seen.
Aside from this moment of high tension, the thing that got me was just how slow Coronation Street is. I suppose it’s a fair reflection of life in a Northern town that very little seems to happen for long periods of time, but Christ, it ain’t half boring.
Give me the crazy streets of Walford any day. I switched over at 8pm and there was Sean flushing Deano’s head down a lavvy, Ian Beale narrowly avoiding being run over by his dead ex wife and, the icing on the cake, Billy getting in a bit of a huff. God bless the ‘enders. All hail the Beasts of the East.