“THEY’RE Knocking down half of Coronation Street,” said Corrie veteran Sally Webster on the hit ITV soap earlier this month. “Good!” My 70-year-old Grandad blurted out. “Turn over love,” he said to my Nana. This scene is repeated in many households up and down the UK, but why? When did Britain’s most-loved working-class drama turn off the very people that it is supposed to represent?
I asked my Grandad a question. Does Corrie represent the working-class in 2020? He said: “No, it stopped representing the working-class years ago, it did once going back twenty years,” they never watch prime-time Corrie. When I call to visit some afternoons, they watch the classics on ITV3.
Show Creator Tony Warren wanted to represent the “ordinary people on an ordinary backstreet” in Salford. That is currently being promoted by ITV in a heartwarming advert.
His idea became the lifeblood of ITV, and has been one its highest-rated shows since it began in 1960, but these days it’s as far-away from its origins as ever. It’s now viewed on average by 8 million Brits, a far cry from the 20 million the show used to pull in. Has Britain had enough of Corrie? I think so.
The brainchild of Tony Warren – a homosexual Northerner who wrote about what he knew – life in Salford, that ‘kitchen sink’ and true-to-life drama was proven to have mass-market appeal, it did not hold back on the issues facing everyday people.
The general manager of Granada TV claimed he “couldn’t find a single redeeming quality”… when it aired for the first time. It was watched by 3.5 million homes by 7.7 million viewers.
A show that was sneered at by the chattering classes was only ever supposed to run for 13 episodes, but it was so successful that it has ran for more than 60 years.
Yet Corrie often forgets to represent the people that are its lifeblood. The working-class, and in the early 1980s two other soaps rocked the cobbles.
In 1982, ‘high-brow’ Channel 4 launched TV soap Brookside, the brainchild of Liverpudlian Phil Redmond.
Seen as a true to life reflection on Thatcher’s Britain in Working-Class Nothern England, dealing with gritty storylines and offence, the show was a hit.
The Independent described Redmond’s “bleak vision that sustained the show.” The show tackled unemployment, working-class misery, life on the dole, crime, homosexuality, aids, drug addiction and religious fanaticism. We never see that on today’s soaps.
Redmond even took sleepy Yorkshire TV soap ‘Emmerdale‘ and made it prime-time viewing. In 1993 he helped to produce the famous ‘plane crash’ to air on the fifth anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, to showcase the effects on a rural community, the episodes drew shock and outrage, but it was a hit and made Emmerdale a staple of TV.
BBC Comedy also refused to shy away from reality, with casual racism and offensive jokes in shows like Only Fools and Horses gaining millions of viewers, because it was real, that’s gone from TV now, even The Guardian said: “In many ways, it’s the kind of portrayal of working-class life that is increasingly rare on British TV”
Leftists on Twitter ran into their safe spaces and branded Only Fools and Horses ‘Offensive’ and ‘Racist’ when the classic comedy hit Netflix in 2018.
Only Fools represented Britain as it was back then – it’s a classic working-class comedy-drama that is cherished in the hearts of Brits, the iconic show was also part of many of our childhoods, especially at Christmas when it would regularly pull in 20 million.
In one classic episode ‘Many Happy Returns’ Del Boy gives a young white boy 50 pence and tells him to go get an Icecream from the ‘Pakis’ on the corner – a term used by millions of working-class Brits throughout the 70s, 80, 90s and early 2000s.
The young lad then asks for another 50p for his black friend who he calls his ‘brother’ Only Fools writer John Sullivan may have used a racist term, but he then showed that a young white lad saw a black kid as his ‘brother’ and didn’t see a problem with that.
Many gritty shows about working-class London had offensive terms, even EastEnders included racial slurs when it launched to immediate success on BBC1 in 1985.
The BBC wanted in on the success of Brookside and launched EastEnders, the brainchild of Julia Smith and Tony Holland, it was a gritty drama that didn’t beat around the bush when it came to working-class reality.
Smith claimed in a book that the development for EastEnders looked at ‘East End spirit’ and found an inward-looking quality, a distrust of strangers and authority figures, a sense of territory and community that the creators summed up as “Hurt one of us and you hurt us all” – something that’s in the fabric of Britain today with the rejection of mass-immigration and the European Union and the outrage over Pakistani Grooming Gangs.
The creators used Corrie as an example, but found that the now 20-year-old ITV soap “offered a rather outdated and nostalgic view of working-class life.”
Viewers were shocked by the language, swearing and racist comments, even Mary Whitehouse complained to then BBC1 controler Micheal Grade.
Despite this, EastEnders carried on, it was REAL, and Brits flocked to the show, by 1986 EastEnders pulled in a record-breaking 30m viewers.
Brookside and EastEnders dealt with multi-racial relationships, rape, racism, gay relationships in an unwavering way, and did not shy away from it due to ‘Political Correctness.’ they even forced sleepy Corrie to change its image in the late 80s to go back to its roots, today, it’s a very different story.
John Altman, best known as Nick Cotton even said the BBC soap is too politically correct these days. He told the story of an incident whilst filming the show in the mid-2010s, when Nick had used the ‘Paki’ slur to describe Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb.
He said: “The other occasion was when Nick had a line about Fatboy saying, ‘At least that P**i has gone’ and then Dot told him off. Nick Cotton is a racist psychopath. They stopped filming and changed it to: ‘At least that illegal immigrant has gone.’ It’s not what Nick Cotton would say.”
Those groundbreaking storylines, dramas and soaps helped to change attitudes, and add a human connection, Today the MSM deals with Racism, Islamophobia and Immigration by refusing to let anyone discuss it, and how will that help change attitudes? it will just drive those things underground giving alternative voices the power.
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