What I don’t like about “Coronation Street”

I have watched “Coronation Street” on a weekly basis ever since 1985. The CBC airs the show and the network was notorious for constantly changing the broadcast schedule to allow for sudden programming changes. Thus if you taped the show on a VCR, you’d have to make sure you caught the beginning of the last episode, even if you didn’t have time to watch it, to ensure that you reprogrammed your VCR to catch the next broadcast at its new time. One of the fondest memories of my devoted mother was how she taped every “Coronation Street” episode while I was away in Finland during the summer of 2000. She had to rewind each Sunday omnibus edition of 2½ hours and watch for a running ticker at the beginning of the episode to see if there was any schedule change for the following Sunday. Because of her diligence in recording, I never missed an episode. It took me three months to catch up. Thanks to PVR recording I never have to worry about sudden scheduling changes, thus during the Olympics when the show is preempted, my PVR still records it.

In 2000 Canada was ten months behind the UK broadcast and several years ago CBC finally attempted to catch us up with the UK and we are now a mere two weeks behind. It was hard to ignore the show when I was on Tristan da Cunha. Not only did the locals get to see original episodes the same time as in the UK, but since I had also been on holiday in Cape Town plus endured a weeklong voyage over the Atlantic, I was further behind than two weeks by the time I got to the island. Thus the news of Hayley Cropper’s illness and wish to end her own life in 2013 was hard to pull away from since I wasn’t that far along in the plot according to the Canadian broadcast schedule.

“Coronation Street” is my favourite show and I never miss it. That said, there are six plot developments, observations or turns of phrase that drive me crazy. I find them all signs of lazy writing and after 36 years of faithful viewing I find myself rolling my eyes heavenward whenever they’re used. “Coronation Street” has the reputation for being a drama that depicts real working-class life in northern England, yet none of what I list below is what real people do or think.

1. If you are a man who has had intimate relations with a woman and she is later written out of the show, there is a good chance she will return years later with a son or daughter you never knew you had. Mark Baldwin, Adam Barlow, Lawrence Cunningham, Emma Brooker, and now the most annoying lisper Sam Blakeman are five characters that immediately come to mind whose mothers were all pregnant and whose children came back to the show to surprise their shocked fathers.

2. If you are a woman on the show, you have probably served an unjust jail sentence. Dierdre Rachid [1], Gail McIntyre, Sally Webster, Eileen Grimshaw, Fiz Stape and Kelly Neelan have all (or in Kelly’s case, is currently) been behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. What kind of legal system do they have in Great Britain, where in these six court cases each of these innocent women was found guilty?

3. People who need access to confidential sources have the uncanny psychic ability to guess others’ passwords. I can think of at least two specific cases where this happened: Richard Hillman managed to deactivate Duggie Ferguson’s house alarm by using the date shown on one of Duggie’s rugby trophies; and when Gail needed access to Nick’s work laptop to fudge the payroll figures she entered his birthday as a password. Instances of miraculous password guessing have occurred since then but I don’t recall the specifics.

4. In real life people do not spend a ton of money on spur-of-the-moment vacations without telling their partners. “I wanted to make it a surprise!” is always the excuse that is given, which all too often results in the trip having to be cancelled and money lost when unforeseen circumstances arise.

5. Couples that go through a rough patch always want to sweep it under the rug by embarking on a “fresh start”. Those two words make me seethe. If there is any line used to excess on this show, it’s couples who want to have a “fresh start”.

6. Characters who are stressed out always need to “clear my head” and “get some fresh air”. No wonder people are always running into each other on the street.

7. Why does Dev arrange his shelves in his shop in such a way that would make it easier to steal things? He should have the shelves perpendicular to the cash counter, not parallel. Of course the way it is currently arranged makes it easier for conversations and camera shots, but it’s horrible for business.

[1] I recall seeing an episode where Dierdre showed her passport on camera and her surname was spelled Raschid.

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