ITV’s decision to broadcast a live, hour-long episode of Coronation Street as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations is unsurprising. ITV started just over a meagre five years before the soap opera, which through the years has become one of the most-watched programmes on UK television.
With this commemorative sense behind it, as well as a powerful advertising campaign, is Corrie Live able to live up to those expectations? I say yes.
When a large production show goes live, the question on everyone’s lips is always “are there going to be some slip ups?” Die-hard Corrie fans will most likely be relieved to find very few errors. Watching on Wednesday evening in my second year house, the very few mistakes I noticed – like character Craig’s mic temporarily failing or a bad camera shot or two – were infrequent and didn’t detract from the drama. As to the scale of the action? Though I question whether the episode’s Hollywood-esque stunt was entirely necessary to the story’s development it does prove that ITV can do big-screen-style action.
One thing is certain, however – the Coronation Street cast can act, and act really well. Leading the central storyline surrounding the Platts, Sean Ward, Paula Lane, Tina O’Brien and Jack P Shepherd give stellar performances as Callum, Kylie, Sarah and David. The much-hyped online backstage feed revealed the entire cast to be clearly terrified, yet in the episode, they are determined and professional down to a tee. With normally good visuals, there are times where I had to remind myself that the episode had been recorded live.
Plenty of drama is on offer around the street too, with a revelation for Chris as well as Lloyd and Andrea’s leaving do. The romance between Roy (described by my 15-year-old sister at home as an “absolute bae”, just so you know) and Cathy also provides an antidote to the serious storylines. Credit has to be given for scenes, both during the episode and previously, that have sensitively addressed Roy finding love again (late wife Hayley, an incredibly popular character, died in 2014).
Much was made of the interactive opportunities available during the broadcast and with the help of the backstage feed, it was certainly uncanny to see a viewer’s message (a marriage proposal) end up on a blackboard in the Rovers. For a Corrie fan like me, however, it’s slightly disconcerting to observe the inside of the Rovers practically empty in seconds once the actors have left the interior set after the indoor scenes. Maybe a naïve part of me hoped someone was always serving up refreshments in there, or, at the very least, the cast celebrated there after the show wrapped. You have to let go of your dreams at some point, I guess.