The Blog

Save Our Street: How 'Corrie' Can Return to Its Former Glory

Stuart Blackburn is leaving his role as executive producer after what has arguably been's most catastrophic era of all time. Bizarre plotlines, stunt-casting and an overall decrease in quality has seen even the most hard-core offans (myself included) questioning their loyalty to the show.

The news that many a Coronation Street fan has been waiting for finally broke this week.

Stuart Blackburn is leaving his role as executive producer after what has arguably been Coronation Street's most catastrophic era of all time.

Bizarre plotlines, stunt-casting and an overall decrease in quality has seen even the most hard-core of Corrie fans (myself included) questioning their loyalty to the show.

Emmerdale's executive producer, Kate Oates, will be taking over Stuart's role, and although I don't watch Emmerdale because I'm not 83, I've heard wonderful things about her work.

In the unlikely event that Kate is currently browsing the internet to find out what fans would like to see from her reign, I have put finger to keyboard and come up with a few suggestions as to how Coronation Street can reclaim its title as the nation's favourite soap.

Bring back the older generation

Coronation Street has become overrun by youngsters, in what looks like a vain attempt to compete with the likes of Hollyoaks.

As I watched 14-year-old Bethany Platt smoking a spliff in the hope of sleeping with Callum, a much older drug dealer, I couldn't help but think of simpler times. What happened to the days when the crux of an episode would be Emily Bishop getting angry at Percy Sugden for disturbing her whilst polishing her cutlery? (Sidenote - this actually happened. Watch the drama unfold here.)

Joking aside, whilst Corrie has to move with the times, it wouldn't hurt to have a few new older characters introduced. Coronation Street was famed for its matriarchal women back in its heyday, but this seems to be an area that it struggles with nowadays.

Even six years after her death there's a massive Blanche-shaped hole that hasn't been filled, and national treasures such as Emily and Rita are very scarcely used. A new battle-axe or three has never been more necessary - bring back Sylvia!

Stop with the gimmicks

Coronation Street used to be home to actors of the calibre of Pat Phoenix, Violet Carson and Doris Speed. Switch to 2015, and we're treated to the delights of Sarah Harding reciting lines as though she were in a primary school nativity - an insult to actors around the country.

Stunt casting very rarely pays off, and if more time was spent sourcing actors who could actually act, there would be little need for it.

Whilst we're on the subject of gimmicks, imagine how wonderful it would be if a Coronation Street wedding could just go ahead without any hitches? Sally and Tim look set to be the best Corrie coupling since Jack and Vera, so why can't they just have a nice, stress-free wedding?

Reduce the number of episodes

There is a rule when it comes to Coronation Street. The number of episodes per week is inversely proportional to the quality of the show.

Despite its drop in ratings, Corrie is still ITV's strongest show, and in true ITV style they are determined to squeeze as much ad revenue as possible out of it (where did this sixth episode suddenly come from?).

Unfortunately, this means that the cast is now so big that we can no longer heavily invest in the characters. Not only this, but there are inconsistencies, errors and bouts of storyline-amnesia - more than likely due to the huge number of behind-the-scenes crew required to produce so many episodes.

It will never happen, but in an ideal world, Corrie would go back to three or four episodes per week that are flawlessly written and well-rehearsed.

The humour needs to become ingrained, not forced

One of the things people love about Corrie is its ability to mix drama with humour. Unfortunately, Coronation Street has become so aware of this fact that at times it borders on slapstick.

The Nazir chicken/egg storyline was painful to watch, and the recent need for constant one-liners seems awkward and forced. Humour in Coronation Street works best when it comes from within the characters, so it's no surprise that Sally Dynevor won a soap award for her portrayal of socially-climbing Sally Webster earlier this year.

Which brings me nicely to my final, and most important point...

Let the characters drive the show, not the storylines

Although I may be biased as a northerner, I have always felt Coronation Street was far superior to EastEnders. Why? Because it was driven by the characters as opposed to storylines.

The viewers got to know and love the characters, and the events that happened to them were related to their personal traits and their past. Nowadays, Coronation Street has become like EastEnders, in that the characters often undergo personality transplants to suit whichever sensationalist storyline has been planned to coincide with the Britain's Got Talent final.

Gail and Sally have a long past and great chemistry, so why not dedicate an episode or two to a weekend away together? 'Sally and Gail on tour' sounds like the stuff of dreams to me!

And what about a good old fashioned romance? Corrie is constantly hailing its couples as 'the next Jack and Vera', but it never allows its couples to stay together long enough to actually become the next Jack and Vera. They either die in a fire, have an affair or end up imprisoned for murder.

It's been a tough old time to be a Corrie fan, but the news of Stuart's departure has given me fresh hope. Coronation Street may have lost its way over the past year or so, but I have faith it can rise from the ashes and triumph once more.

All it needs to do is go back to basics, lose some of the deadwood and stop casting noughties bloody popstars!

To the new era!

Before You Go