Posts Tagged ‘Coronation Street’

Just A Thought – The Future Of ITV

March 17, 2009

There’s been a lot of hoo-ha in the meejia over the continuing decline of ITV. Britain’s third channel has recently shelved family favourites such as Heartbeat and The Royal, there are rumblings that local news will eventually disappear from our screens and many of the lavish dramas the channel is justly celebrated for have either already been canned or cancelled before a shot’s been filmed. Indeed, if advertising revenue continues to plummet, there’s a real worry that ITV could cease to exist entirely.

If this happened, we’d lose quite a lot of very popular and, in some cases, important television: Coronation Street, The Bill, Emmerdale, The X Factor, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Taggart, A Touch Of Frost, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, You’ve Been Framed, Midsomer Murders … love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying ITV still pumps out some big ass shows. The loss of Coronation Street, for example, would be a hammer-blow to the very heart of what makes British television unique, and a personal tragedy for millions of viewers.

But would this really happen? If ITV dies the death many pundits fear, would a show as culturally significant as Coronation Street be allowed to go down in flames with the rest of the channel? Surely another broadcaster would come to its rescue? I don’t believe for one minute that a show that regularly brings in an audience of 14 million viewers would be consigned to the history books because the place it’s called home for the last forty nine years disappears from under it. If the worst happened, I strongly suspect Coronation Street would be snapped up by the likes of Sky One. Hell, I could even see it on the BBC.

If something as identifiably ‘ITV’ as Coronation Street appearing elsewhere seems hard to contemplate, just remember it wouldn’t be the first time. ITV originally broadcast Men Behaving Badly, yet it was the BBC that turned it into the comedy juggernaut it later became. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet had two series on channel three before being successfully revived, once again, by the good old BBC. And let’s not forget both Channel 5 and Sky have gone resurrection crazy with rubbish such as Gladiators, Minder, Going For Gold and Superstars shitting blood all over the schedules.

If we were to lose ITV, I suspect, sadly, that we’d never see the likes of Frost, Midsomer Murders or Taggart again, but I reckon the loss of the channel wouldn’t necessarily mean the loss of Coronation Street, The Bill, Emmerdale or Millionaire. I’d be willing to bet the truly inspired TV Burp would resurface on Channel 4, and you can bet your arse the monumentally greedy Simon Cowell would be banging on Rupert Murdoch’s door to make sure both The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent didn’t go the way of the dodo. Similarly, I’m A Celebrity would be so at home on Sky, I’m surprised it’s not there already.

Losing ITV would be, for many of us, like losing a beloved family member. However, like the old family photos you come across every now and again, the bits and bobs of theirs you find in a drawer, there would be enough mementos of it about to keep its memory alive.

Indeed, the death of ITV could be the best thing that ever happened to the channel. We’d still have all its best bits spread about the schedules, and none of the shit that has brought the channel’s reputation to its knees. That, bizarrely, could be ITV’s saving grace.

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Songs From The Shows – The Soaps

March 4, 2009

Ever noticed how theme tunes are constructed so that you, the viewer, can sing along at home?

We have.

That’s why we bring you the first outing in a pointless series called Songs From The Shows, in which Napoleon and myself aim to illustrate how to join in when your favourite theme songs kick in.

First up – The Soaps. Here’s Coronation Street:

Can you see how it scans and marries into a thing of beauty?

Let’s have a listen to Eastenders:

Amazing, ain’t it?

Any requests?

The Hills

August 12, 2008

Soap operas have long been a supporting leg for the table of society; they provide common ground for discussion, offer up countrywide watercooler gossip and dangle before us the idea that somewhere within our barren, empty lives there is drama.

I’ve known more than one person who would, every night, start with Neighbours and then work through Hollyoaks, Home and Away, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Eastenders in a straight flush of working class escapism. These people based their lives around those of others who didn’t exist. They spent their time absorbed in a fictional reality, whilst their very real one ebbed away.

When reality television became the genre du jour these people immersed themselves in that too – absorbing more and more cathode rays in the pursuit of gossip and speculation. Endlessly watching, discussing, watching, discussing, watching, discussing and all the while unaware that their days revolved around reacting to the stylised actions of others.

Which, in case you were wondering where this was all going, is a bit like sitting through half an hour of MTV’s reality soap opera ‘The Hills‘.

I wasn’t aware of this show until I stumbled upon this afternoon so a bit of Googled backstory may help the equally uninitiated – it’s a ‘docusoap’ about the lives of a bunch of rich and beautiful white people living in Beverly Hills, a spin off from another show about the same bunch of rich and beautiful white people living by the beach. I can’t quite work out who these people are or why they deserve their own TV show, but I’m guessing the fact they’re rich, beautiful and white has something to do with it.

Despite having no discernible talents, charisma or purpose we follow their every move as they are afforded the sort of connections and opportunities most people can only dream of, and we get to watch as they piss them away in a scat-orgy of mindless self indulgence and childish arguments. They work in exclusive nightspots, in high fashion, in entertainment and get to mingle with movie stars and industry giants whilst riding in private jets and squandering the income of your average household in one champagne-sodden long weekend. They are a Bret Easton Ellis novel come real.

First things first: this is not a reality show. If this is an honest portrayal of life then I have a gateway to Xanadu in my bathroom. It’s shot with the logistical complexity of a Robert Altman film – multiple camera angles no matter how impromptu the moment, exquisite lighting setups for each deeply-wrung conversation and editing so judicious it makes the Apprentice look like the work of DA Pennebaker. It’s also shot like a Michael Mann film – so cinematic in its portrayal of another indentikit LA bar that you wonder how they can have a normal conversation with a crew of 36 no less than 10ft away.

Each cast member is virtually indistinguishable from not only the others, but from themselves as well. With all the emotional complexity of a blueberry muffin they bitch about minute aspects of each other’s behaviour, overreact to the most basic of situations and prove themselves beyond all but the most simple human interaction. This is a world where a two minute conversation with an ex-boyfriend can lead to a screaming argument, where modelling for the editor of Teen Vogue is the most impressive thing ever and where the word ‘like’ features more than all other words combined.

I don’t see the point of this show. Soap operas offer consolation for the viewer, aligning themselves in sympathy whilst drama is supposed to offer blissful escape. But this programme does neither. The characters are so vacuous and pathetic that they’re not even worth scorn and their lives are so empty and repetitive that they make the supposed glamour of Beverly Hills seem dull. They don’t come across as special, or impressive, or even worth knowing – they’re not good guys or bad guys, they’re just people, boring ones at that, living the same life as the viewer – watching, discussing, watching, discussing – albeit in a different place.

Maybe, though, that’s the point – TV used to present excitement and escape as admirable pursuits, but that stopped us watching. Now it offers boredom and repetitive behaviour patterns; makes gossip and self importance important enough to be on TV and the audience will copy, they’ll ask less questions and do fewer things. Soon TV will be like an Escher painting, a self-eating circle snake of navel-gazing and nadir-worship.

Think I’m overreacting? Consider this – for the entire length of the show there was a piece of text in the corner of the screen advertising a new show on MTV that night, Totally Calum Best, in which the mentally-challenged fucktard attempts to go without sex for 50 days. I don’t want to sound like the old man in the corner, but if The Hills isn’t the beginning of the end of civilisation, then that certainly fucking is.

The Friday Question: TV’s Best Villain

June 27, 2008

Nick Cotton

Nasty Nick Cotton (R.I.P) from Eastenders was an ‘orrible piece of work. A racist bully who tried to poison his own Mum.

If you’re a sci fi fan then there’s always that twat Davros, rolling about in his demi-dalek wheelchair. What about that berk who tried to kill Gail off of Coronation Street? I hear he was a bit of a cad. I never watch it so I wouldn’t know.

Then there was Broadbent as Delboy’s nemesis in Only Fools in sitcom-land… Nasty Nick Bateman from Big Brother in reality TV world (though he wasn’t actually very nasty at all – just as thick as two short planks)… Gripper Stebson on kid’s TV…

Any more?

Who was television’s best villain?

Thank God You’re Here

January 28, 2008

Thank God You're Here

Thank God You’re Here is a new effort by ITV to put some decent comedy about. They succeeded with Harry Hill’s TV Burp, which for my money is the only laugh out loud thing on TV at the moment. Actually – not ‘for my money’ at all as it’s on ITV – it’s more ‘for my ability to sit through a series of rubbish thirty second adverts every fifteen minutes’.

Anyhow, Thank God You’re Here is hosted by Paul Merton, an old hand when it comes to improvisational comedy. TGYH involves well-known comedy faces walking onto a set in a costume. Actors, in character, are ready for them and set the scene immediately, enabling the hapless arrivals to attempt to seamlessly fit in and find their role. Obviously, with no preparation, this can be pretty amusing as the improvisers attempt to steer the situation in their own direction.

Featuring on Saturday were Marcus Brigstocke, the current Mr Show-Me-The-Money of television, having taken up Jimmy Carre’s crown when he decided to do that rubbish news parody thing with Trevor Mc Trevor McDonald. He did alright, thrown into a situation where he was a surgeon reporting on a child’s progress. More impressive was Phil Nichol, an American comedian who dealt impressive with the Wild West scenario he found himself in, managing to develop his character as a gay, fashion-obsessed outlaw who’d just returned from Milan. Bizarre, but impressive. Lee Mack was my favourite of the night, responding in his usual dry manner to being a bronze Olympic medallist who was giving a presentation to a school room. I laughed at all these bits.

Sadly it all fell down a peg or two when Coronation Street’s Fizz took to the stage. It’s not often the viewer can honestly say ‘I could do better than that’, unless they’re watching Paul Robinson on international duty. Or, as in this case, Fizz off of The Street trying to be funny. She died.

Peculiarly, Paul Merton also fell apart when taking to the stage as a clown being interrogated by a Ringmaster. His improvisation wraps up the show and is clearly an attempt at rounding things up professionally. Sadly, the actor he was meant to bounce off barked questions at him so quickly he’d have had trouble coming up with anything other than half a one-liner. A half-liner, if you like.

That’s the only weakness in this pretty diverting hour – the fact that the constructed situations can be a little too restrictive. It’s hard to know what limits to put on the actors, but I suppose it’s best they’re not allowed to drift off as they did in the woeful latter days of Whose Line Is It Anyway. But a bit more freedom for talented types like Nichol and Mack would’ve made this comedy gold.

On reflection, I watched this whilst seven pints deep on a Saturday night, so don’t take my word for it being alright. I’ll laugh at a potato when I’m half cut, so it may well be utterly unloveable poo. I once laughed at an episode of Friends, but we’ll blame that on the vicious strain of sensimellia my mate had skinned up a few minutes previous to the telly being flicked on. Also, that episode featured a monkey, which further excuses me.

Coronation Street

September 18, 2007

David Platt 

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.