Coronation Street is going live for a one-off special this week to mark ITV’s 60th anniversary, and while the cast and production crew alike are sure to be apprehensive about live gaffes, they really shouldn’t be. Bloopers delight crowds.
I’m not talking about a camera feed not working, or an actor completely freezing mid-scene. If Roy had to turn his back to camera to quickly flick through his neatly highlighted script it would be a tad baffling. No, it’s the little things: the fluffs that make us viewers feel like we’ve snuck a peek behind the curtain of television’s tricks. It adds an extra edge-of-your-seat element while you’re watching at home. Literally, what will happen next?
Like EastEnders’ ‘How’s Adam?’ moment, which saw actress Jo Joyner accidentally call Ian Beale by his real name Adam Woodyatt during the soap’s 30th anniversary celebrations earlier this year. Joyner tweeted that she was “#gutted”, but she also added “#leastyouknowitslive”. And that’s exactly it. We know it’s live and we get to sit at home and feel like we’re having a bit of an inside joke with the cast. An ‘oops moment’ that we can all chuckle about together.
‘Event telly’, after all, is becoming less popular as viewers turn to catch-up, on demand and box sets to fit their viewing into their own schedules. But a live one-off episode has an immediate draw: a need to actually watch it as it’s broadcast and reignite the water cooler moments the next day (or the next second on social media, of course) if something does go awry.
It’s strangely satisfying. It’s why gag reel clip shows work, it’s why even the presenter had to laugh when a gigantic whale popped up behind him just as he declared none were around in Big Blue Live last month. We want that true live feel, not a highly-glossed version we barely even notice.
Show bosses aren’t just dragging out a live episode to draw crowds (although EastEnders’ live week proved it does), or to give us a less polished version of what they do so well throughout the week. The format is a nod to Corrie’s early days when the show was shown live as standard, with a second episode per week recorded ‘as live’.
So as Corrie gets sentimental, we can get to slip-up spotting – in the nicest possible way.
See Coronation Street’s live episode Wednesday 23 September at 7.30pm