My favourite TV show is “Coronation Street”. I have watched it faithfully since 1985, and am a fanatic in my weekly devotion to the series. While I was away in Finland during the entire summer of 2000, my mother taped three months of episodes and I eventually caught up to the Canadian broadcasts and never missed a show. People have been known to have their eyes scratched out should they dare tell me plot developments in advance. Canada currently is six months behind the British broadcasts and I have learned the hard way never to set foot into a Heathrow airport magazine shop unless I really want to see cover stories on “Coronation Street” characters. Far too many times during my travels have I ruined the show for myself by unknowingly coming across plot spoilers by simply walking past airport news agents.
Thus when I came across the massive 1024-page brick of a book, Coronation Street: The Complete Saga by Katherine Hardy, I decided I had to read it. It is a novelization of the entire series, from its start in 1960 to the year of publication, 2003. Although I joined the series twenty-five years after its first episode, I was well familiar with past characters, the reasons for their arrival and departure from the Street, and I understood the current characters’ references to them. Hardy’s book gave more background to the early years of the show, which is likely the author’s intention. Most readers of Coronation Street: The Complete Saga would never have seen the show in its early days and this novelization filled in the missing puzzle pieces and connected the dots to help create a complete picture.
The first three decades of the show take up a sizable chunk of the text, with plenty of details given while only advancing a day at a time. As the book progresses into the late nineties and the early part of the twenty-first century, the advances in the plot move ahead at lightning speed. Since the reader would likely already be familiar with the plot developments in the series by then, Hardy did not have to spend much time writing about what the reader already knew. It was almost hilarious though to read near the end of the book how characters are introduced on one page and then getting married to each other a page later.
I wonder how Hardy got the information for her novel. Did she use old scripts, official synopses or did she watch hour upon hour of old episodes? There were two errors that a faithful viewer would catch immediately. The first one, a quote from Leanne Battersby:
‘I called round to see Ashley Peacock at number four on the way back,’ Leanne said brightly. ‘She has a room to let and I took it for me and Nick.’
Ashley Peacock, recently deceased on the show, is a man. In recent times the name Ashley has morphed from a masculine to a feminine name. Perhaps Hardy instinctively assigned Ashley’s sex before checking with the official sources. In my morbid sense of conscienceless TV justice, I am glad that Ashley got killed off because I could never understand a flaming word he said. He had the most difficult accent of all the northern cast members.
The second discrepancy is the reference to hairdresser Denise Osbourne, who has an affair with Ken Barlow and has a child by him. In Hardy’s book, she is a young woman no more than twenty, yet in the TV series Denise is a grown woman in her late thirties.
After recently reading Buck, Miller and three works heavy on the DPRK propaganda, I was glad to turn one thousand pages of easy fluff. Coronation Street: The Complete Saga has already been updated, and the current edition has a different colour cover.