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Coronation Street Is A Soap Opera Media Essay

‘Coronation Street’ is a soap opera presented on national television four times a week. It is based in Manchester (United Kingdom) and is currently one of the most popular soap operas, followed religiously by millions of viewers, in Britain. I have decided to analyse the history of this soap opera and its gradual rise to becoming as popular as it is today.

‘Coronation Street’, created by Tony Warren, was first broadcasted on Friday 9th December 1960 on ITV 1, making it the longest running soap opera in Britain. The soap opera is based in the fictional industrial town of ‘Weatherfield’ and has seen the rise and fall of many well known fictional characters over 50 years of broadcasting. In March 1961 ‘Coronation Street’ remained number 1 throughout the whole year. According to TAM (Television Audience Measurement), before 196 4 75% of the public watched ‘Coronation Street’ and an estimated 20million viewers tuned into Coronation Street.

Since 1967, ‘Coronation Street’ has been known to be an outdated depiction of the urban working class and it has been accused of nostalgic (homesick) fantasy. The Daily Mirror hit headlines in 1960 regarding the first episode of ‘Coronation Street’ stating that “the programme is doomed from the outset....for there is little reality in the new serial, which apparently, we have to suffer twice a week”. In 1967, rivals of ‘Coronation Street’ believed that this soap no longer imitated life in 1960s Britain but instead imitated life in the 1950s. Manchester Base Granada found a way to put the programme back on top, with the hope of introducing more driven stories including issues such as drugs, sex, homosexuality, money and out matrimony pregnancy but most of the ideas were dropped for fear of upsetting the viewers.

‘Coronation Street’ has played a part in changing and affecting the viewers personal lives as the story lines and issues raised in soap operas depict many of the viewers normal lives. The new arrival of Channel 4’s ‘Brookside’ in 1982 as well the new BBC’s prime time soap opera, ‘Eastenders’ in 1985 meant great rivalry for the longest running soap opera, however the rating for Coronation Street remained the same throughout the decade with ‘Eastenders’ becoming a contender for popularity as statistics showed an increase in viewers throughout the decade for this new soap. To date, with all the soap operas being broadcasted at relatively the same time, ‘Coronation Street’ remains the “Prime time Competition.”

With the introduction of a new producer in 1988, David Liddiment, many aspects of the show were changed including the setting and production technique. The new exterior was rebuilt to include more houses and shops and the production technique included redevelopment of a studio and much more location filming.

Coronation Street is shown in many countries including Ireland. Coronation Street is broadcasted on ITV3 with an average of 365,000 people watch Coronation Street each night and in Ireland, it is so popular that the omnibus is also shown on weekends. In 2009 the show broadcasted every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night and then repeated on the sister channel ITV2 at 9pm however the show has stopped.

In Canada, Coronation Street is broadcasted on CBC television at half past 6 between Monday to Friday with an omnibus on Sunday at half nine in the morning. Coronation Street will broadcast in the time of Olympics, NHL Playoffs but at a different time in weekday afternoons at half past three. Canada broadcasting of ‘Coronation Street’ is approximately 10 months behind Britain showings.

In this essay I will discuss technical obligations of a multi camera shoot aswell as the aesthetic and production aspects that are required to be taken into account. Multi camera productions are part of the norm in television production and include shows such as the news, sport showings and talk shows. These shows are all produced using multi cameras connected to video mixers which are then transferred to and mixed onto a single tape. During a musical concert, a director will have multiple camera shots to decide and choose from & the production team analyses these shots, considering each angle so that they can relay a show to the viewers that captures virtually every moment. This method of production has allowed producers to be satisfied in knowing that they can later review each shot and present the best production to the viewers, as none of the action/drama will have missed the cameras.

Single camera video production has been recently used in news and documentaries, however this type of production has been used throughout many years. The advantages of single Camera production are that they can be viewed as a more dramatic type of production as the scenes are shot from different positions including close ups and over the shoulder shots. After the same scene has been shot several times from different camera positions, during editing the director has the advantage to choose different shots.

Single Camera

Multiple Camera Production

Offer more creative advantages in theatrical production

To demand faster approach the video producer are always depending on the multiple camera production.

Figure 1. (adapted from )A diagrammatic version of looking at how a single camera production could be carried out. The three camera positions observed is actually just one camera that is moved to each of the different positions.

One possibility for a director to carry out this shot could be to first use camera position 1 and rehearse the entire dialogue for the scene. This wide shot at camera position 1 could be used as a master or establishing shot. Therefore any time the scene needs to be restored after this master shot would cover bad shots on camera positions 2 or 3, or could be used ‘just to introduce visual variety’.

Next, from camera position 2 the entire scene is repeated as one character says his lines again. This position allows over-the-shoulder shots or close-ups. Finally, the whole scene is again repeated from camera position 3. This production type can be slightly difficult as the actors must ensure that the same moves in the exact manner they made them are made and that the dialogue is repeated in the same manner each time otherwise the words and actions in each different take will not match, making it extremely difficult to cut between the various takes. This type of production allows the director to have 3 complete versions of the same scene to choose from during editing.

In London some of the studios are sometimes used for TV production outside the unit e.g. “Black Island (Acton), Bray, Dukes Island (Acton), Ealing, Hanlon (Acton), Millennium (Borehamwood), Pinewood, Shepperton, Three Mills (Bromley-by-Bow) and Twickenham.” The lighting director has a very important role in working for soaps and dramas in the dedicated studios around England including ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Casualty’, and ‘Hollyoaks’. Sometime the light work is done by the Cameramen but generally most of it is lit by LDs.

When ‘Coronation Street’ was first broadcasted in the 1960’s, it was thought that it would not be a success and Granada Television decided to charge for 13 episodes that had already broadcasted as company doubted that the show wouldn’t last for long. However over the years, viewers were drawn to the serial and won over by ordinary characters. These characters were relatable to the majority of the working class viewers and the use of the Northern English dialect proved to be invaluable and phrases such as “eh chuck?”, “Nowt” and “by heck!” became rapidly heard on the British Channel for the first time on British Serialised Television. ‘Coronation Street’ has risen to the top because it depicts working class lives and has become relatable to many people. American soaps such as ‘90210’ and ‘The O.C’ are much more unrealistic as the characters are very tamed and beautiful and the story lines seem to be very fairy tale like. Britain soaps have a sense of realism and soaps such as ‘Coronation Street’ are more focussed on the domestic term and personal."Coronation Street gives the impression of leaving a literal gap of time between episodes, and significant days in the outside world such as Christmas Day are celebrated that day," ‘Coronation Street’ faces much more realistic issue such as death, friendship, marriage, romance and divorce.

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