CBC’s Coronation Street is now only two weeks behind the UK. Wow! We’ve never been that close before. In an RCI interview with Carmel Kilkenny, CBC Executive Director of Content Planning Christine Wilson said that we had got nine months behind (I think it was 10) because of accumulated time loss due to preemptions of the show. Preemptions have certainly increased the time distance between UK and Canadian airtimes, but there has always been a difference. It is my understanding that an agreed-upon minimum airtime difference was part of the terms of purchasing rebroadcast rights. There still is that, now 2 weeks for CBC. Preemption adds to the time lag, so I hope CBC keeps its promise that episodes will be rescheduled if need be instead of preempted.
Ms. Wilson said that the internet has made a time-lag of many months untenable. Viewers find out online what’s happening in UK Corrie then have to wait months to see it. The recent death of actress Betty Driver is a case in point. It was big news in the real world and, while UK viewers had to wait until the story of the character’s death was written and aired, Canadian viewers had to wait months beyond that to pay their respects. In reading news reports of the real Betty’s death, finding out about current storylines was almost unavoidable. Not a big deal if you’re relatively current in storyline airing, more so if you’re almost a year behind.
The internet certainly has made it easier to know what’s happening on the Street in UK time. But it has always been a part of the Corrie Hinterland, long before the word “spoiler” had anything to do with tv. I was introduced to Coronation Street in the 1970s in New Zealand by an English ex-pat. She explained and interpreted the show and would have told me what was going to happen. In letters from England, she would get news about what was happening there on the Street.
Subscriptions to English magazines provided Street news and they were shared like a piece of meat among jackals. And woe betide someone coming from ‘home’ who didn’t bring information about ‘Coro’! It was like currency. Anyone with up to date details was fêted like royalty so they would share. Although why it mattered to a NZ viewer, I don’t know. What was happening in the UK was over two years in the future for us. I had enough trouble following what was happening in the here and now, let alone two years ahead. I didn’t want to know the future.
My attitude to spoilers has remained the same. Visiting the UK, I avoided watching Corrie. I didn’t want to plunge ahead then have to backtrack when I returned to Canada. In researching my weekly scene, I’ve become adept at googling and doing the keyboard equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and ‘la-la-la’-ing so that I don’t read everything while looking for something specific. I learned how to do that the hard way: by accidently reading too much and finding out someone was leaving the show or a character had died. You never really can put it back out of your mind. So it’s much better that we are now so close in time. Only weeks of waiting and wondering when you find out something you didn’t want to know instead of nearly a year.
According to the internet, New Zealand viewers this summer watched the 50th anniversary special – so still about 18 months behind. Googling anything about the show must be horrendous! I hope you too can get caught up.