Wednesday we saw the new title sequence, done in honour of the show’s 50th anniversary and the move to high-definition. There’s a new cat, a new rendition of the theme music, new introductory scene shots. At first, I found the music jarring – more high pitched and ‘thinner’ than my ears like. According to internet sites from Canada’s viewing time and from last year in UK viewing time, I wasn’t alone. ‘I hate the new music’ was quite common.
A few posters, however, said it was more like a version that had been used long ago. It was less orchestrated than the version we’ve heard now for years. I remembered watching old episodes on the 30th anniversary VHS box set, and being surprised by the difference in the music. And yes, this new version is reminiscent of it. On Corrie Canuck, a commenter said the main instrument is a trumpet or “more likely a cornet with a mute”. According to Wikipedia, Eric Spears’ composition was “a cornet piece”. Knowing nothing about brass instruments, other than I don’t like them much, I don’t know, but this spare ‘reedy’ version grew on me quickly.
The photo montage still has the roof tops and tiles, but interspersed are street scenes on the set and throughout Manchester. They’re all in soft focus, which is odd considering the whole thing was done for the crispness of HD. Aside from the soft focus, it’s more like the American soaps when they all changed their opening sequences maybe 15 years ago to street and set scenes as well as shots of people. On second viewing and listening, I thought ok, this is different but the new elements are attractive. And it kept enough of the history of past openings in it. The tiles, chimneys, roof lines and, of course, a cat. By Friday, I decided I like the new sequence a lot.
New cat and former Street cats
We’ve got an orange tabby cat now, jumping off a roof. A while ago, when I was looking up images of Trevor’s found kittens, I came across the story of the grey and white tabby cat who graced the credits for many years. I had a special fondness for him because he looked very much like my cat Elsie. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Frisky had a huge fan following. He was a regular cat from Leeds whose people decided to try him out when Coronation Street was auditioning cats for new credits in 1990.
He became a celebrity but continued to live a normal cat life with his people, not letting fame go to his head. A few years after his death in 2000, his people put his cremated ashes up auction. For the price of £700, some lucky person now has the remains of Frisky on their mantelpiece. The proceeds were donated to a cat rescue group.
Elsie and I both missed Frisky when they redid the opening, replacing him with the black cat. Seen only from the distance, this new cat endeared him or herself to Elsie and me by meowing. Hope the cat got paid more for having one line.
A cat in the title sequence happened by accident in 1976, when a cat just happened to appear as they were filming. Audiences noticed and liked the cat. So producers have ensured since then that there is always a cat in the opening credits. Eric Spear’s theme music tells you the show is about to start. The cat tells you you’re where you’re supposed to be.