Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Coronation Street

This week is the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street. Is this anniversary worthy of a blog about history and politics? Some would say that television programmes and popular culture are too trivial and ephemeral to be of interest to serious historians, and soap operas portray an necessarily exaggerated view of the world for dramatic purposes. Some have also argued that Coronation Street has never accurately represented the urban working class society it was meant to portray, and was considered old fashioned even in 1950.

However, as has been demonstrated by all the fuss about this week's tram crash and live episode, it has proved enduringly popular and has changed (to a certain extent) with the times, allowing historians of the future to chart, for example, changing attitudes towards immigration, class and sexuality based on the activities of characters in the programme. Political students meanwhile could examine how a predominantly working class area has fragmented into a much more socially diverse environment, although it is of course rare to find the characters discussing political events themselves!

This BBC article (accompanied by these pictures) argues hard for why Coronation Street should be considered important in the history of British Television, particularly as its early episodes (when the only other soap opera available was "The Archers") were made despite considerable reluctance from many in ITV that it could be successful. Do you agree? And should the blog cover more of this sort of thing or stick to "proper history"??

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