Tuesday at the Rovers, Trev says, “Hey guess what I found today? Two little kittens in a wheelie bin.” Janice says, “aah, really? Where are they now?” In a cardboard box at her flat, Trev says. No one else says anything, except to comment on Janice’s allergy to cats, out of Trev’s earshot. Living kittens were put inside a bin destined for the compactor end of a garbage truck. And no one comments on it??
It happens in real life. There are people uncaring and cruel enough to find that a way to solve their unwanted kitten and puppy dilemma. But they don’t do it thinking “a nice garbage collector will surely find them if I put them here”. They think this is an easy and cost-free way to get rid of animals. And it is, for them. It’s not for the animals that are crushed to death by the compactor. It’s also not for the garbage collector who may realize too late that a live animal is being crushed.
So if ever there was a moment crying out for a “public service” line to be written in easily and effectively, this was it! Janice saying “Whaatt? Cats put in a wheelie bin? What pillock would do that?” would actually be more in character for her and would quickly convey that this is far from an “aah, cute little kitten-whittens” moment.
Janice may be allergic to cats, but that does not mean she is blind to animal cruelty. Even if the writers wanted Janice to appear so smitten with Trev that all she can do is be sweet and gooey, there were other people standing there. Leanne, Audrey – somebody should have said it, for the sake of realism as well as because it needed to be said.
I know from my interviews with Street production people that they do not put PSA content in just for the sake of “educating” the public. If social issues and education can be incorporated realistically into a plotline or character development, they do it. But they don’t want “clunk – here’s your educational bit.” That’s fair enough, and that’s good storytelling.
But here, in this brief scene setting up Janice and Trev’s relationship, was the perfect opportunity to get a plug in about responsible animal treatment. With the number of dogs and cats with real roles on Coronation Street over the years, I have always assumed there were “animal people” in the writing and production staff. So where were they the day this storyline was workshopped around the table?