Six episodes of Coronation Street per week! That’s a lot of hot pot to cook. And what’s the betting we end up chewing on gristle rather than lamb?
OK, so when it comes to Corrie, I’m old school: such is my lifelong affinity for the show that I can remember having to wait from Wednesday until the following Monday to get the resolution to a cliffhanger. So maybe I’m not the best judge on this latest scheduling manoeuvre. But come on, ITV – this is surely sacrificing quality for quantity.
Even now, when Corrie or Emmerdale show their regular double bills, there’s the sneaking suspicion that – if pushed for time – you can just catch the second episode because you know that’s where the drama is going to be. A sacrilegious thought for completists, but hey, when you have kids to bath and homework to help with, cutbacks have to be made somewhere. If anything, adding in a permanent extra episode is only going to intensify that feeling of Corrie being just that little bit more disposable.
Because will it really matter all that much if we miss the odd instalment? Can’t we just get the gist on a two-minute YouTube clip? With so much broadcast time to fill, viewers are bound to think that scripts will be less finessed and performances not so polished. ITV is obviously hoping that this is going to make theirs an appointment-to-view channel for an extra 30 minutes a week. The worry is that it instead becomes a temptation-to-miss.
I mean, you can understand why ITV is going down this road. Corrie, Emmerdale, Simon Cowell and Ant & Dec aside, they are kind of hunting around for hits. So it makes scheduling sense to give fans more of what they like. And Emmerdale – which has been pumping out six episodes a week for years – has just won Best Soap at the British Soap Awards for the first time, mainly thanks to the storytelling skills of producer Kate Oates. Who has now moved over to Corrie. So, it all looks good on paper.
But, I’m afraid, the Street is not in such robust shape as its fellow soap over the Pennines. Storylines such as Carla’s exit have lacked credibility, they’ve had to deal with the departures of the likes of long-serving cast members like Alison King and Ryan Thomas, and there’s the feeling that it’s lost some of the wry humour that made it stand out from its competitors in the first place. Oates has until 2017 to turn the good ship Corrie around, but it’s a tough ask. Particularly when you’re also prepping for that increase in workload.
Plus, you have the fact that Coronation Street works most effectively when it isn’t burning through storylines like nobody’s business and is instead homing in on small-scale domestic drama that moves and entertains. Is it built to withstand such a punishing regime? Why not commission a new continuing drama for 30 minutes a week instead of working the cast and writers of Corrie like carthorses?
Then there’s the issue of where this sixth episode is going to land. Maybe 8.30pm on a Thursday? It seems like the only available slot. After all, the experiment of having an episode on a Sunday evening has been long since abandoned. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that ITV steers well clear of any competitive scheduling against EastEnders, a tactic that ill-serves the audience and always results in poor returns when it comes to viewing figures.
And, finally, you have to think of the saturation point for even the most rabid Corrie-phile. You want soap fans, not soap slaves. The last thing you need is for devotees to feel beholden to the show they love. When soaps are at their best, they reflect the concerns, dreams and desires of their viewers. In order to accurately depict its audience’s problems, Coronation Street will soon be filled with characters that are worried about how they’re possibly going to find time to watch all the episodes of Coronation Street.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of Coronation Street below
And visit our dedicated Coronation Street page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.