Tag Archives: television

The Sussex Interview

Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan is on a par with the 1995 BBC interview with Lady Diana. It asked for compassion, and got it. And, like Diana’s, did it manipulate too? Oh yes.

So much in those two hours, but a couple of things niggled at me. Things that weren’t only in the murky realm of “they said”. Rather things that can held up and examined.

Romance or irresponsibility

Meghan said she did no research into Harry or the Royals before agreeing to marry him. No, she didn’t google her husband-to-be. And she said, as an American, she knew very little about the Royal Family.

However, as Oprah pointed out, when anyone marries, they are marrying the family as well as a person. In the case of a royalty, you’re also marrying a whole nation, a whole commonwealth maybe. I think it’s incumbent on you, in that case, to find out what you’re letting yourself in for. Or simply learn about the people and country you’re going to be a part of. As my husband said, if you were asked to give a speech to the Caterpillar Collectors of Peoria, you’d likely google them and Peoria just so you’d know a little bit before you got there.

If you don’t, at least in marriage, the person you’re marrying should point familial expectations and potential pitfalls to you. Especially, I’d think, when it’s a royal family with a national – and international – press hungry for any and all details about you.

Harry has had a few girlfriends leave him because they didn’t want to be part of the circus that comes with being a royal in Britain. Plus, as he made clear in this interview, he knows how horribly wrong it can go. So wouldn’t he make it crystal-clear to Meghan what she was letting herself in for?

A funny story Meghan told suggests that he didn’t even make it clear what it would be like being a family member. On the way to Andrew’s house, where the Queen was expected to drop in, he casually asked her if she knew how to curtsy. Five minutes away from arriving, Meghan laughed, no time to even google it. So some practice curtsies outside before she went in to meet the queen of the family, the Queen of the realm.

That gobsmacked me. Harry not realizing that there is absolutely no reason why Meghan would know how to curtsy. Unless she needed to know for a period piece she was acting it, it’s just not something regular people learn. So was he really still that wrapped up in his royal cocoon?

Security

Meghan and Harry said that their security had been pulled when they lived in Canada. Oprah asked who provided the security. The UK, he said. Wait a minute, Harry. You might want to acknowledge Canada did too, through the RCMP. Our government was pretty tight-lipped about the amount because Canadian taxpayers on the whole weren’t very happy about it.

But we had no choice while you were working royals. You were then classified as IPPs – internationally protected persons. All countries agree to pay security costs for visiting IPPs. So while you were here, we paid. When you no longer were working royals, the security obligations ended. That’s how it works. It wasn’t personal.

Archie

The security discussion led Meghan to talk about Archie’s titles, or lack thereof, and again the unidentified “them”. Security being withdrawn from Harry and Meghan meant no security for the baby either. If he were a prince, she implied, he’d be entitled to security. Huh? Is he a working royal? He’s two.

Then she went into a confused and confusing explanation of why Archie doesn’t have a title and won’t in future, she says. The “George V or George VI convention” – her words. There’s probably several libraries in the palaces, and there’s a resident queen who knows a lot about this stuff. But, failing those, there’s Google.

I goggled it: Archie will become a prince, and HRH, when he is a grandchild of the reigning monarch. At present, he is a great-grandchild. It was the Queen’s grandfather, George V, who decided how many generations for what titles in his 1917 Letters Patent.

Queen Elizabeth changed some of those rules in 2012 before the birth of Prince George. She removed the male heir precedence and she deemed all children of direct heirs to the throne to be styled Prince or Princess. That would be the children of William, who is the heir after Charles. Harry and his children are not in that direct line. Charles may do his own Letters Patent and change things again when he is king.

As working royals, the Sussexes – and their children – were entitled to security paid for by the British government. But now, with their change in status, they’re not. Again, it’s not personal.

Commonwealth

Towards the end of the interview, Harry and Meghan said what a great loss for the Commonwealth that their removal from official royaldom was. They were emblematic of it, and as Meghan said “see it, be it.” True, and quite possibly part of the Queen’s thinking when she appointed them President and Vice-President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

  • Here’s what I wrote when Harry and Meghan got married. Feels like a long time ago, but less than three years.

Corrie Origin Story

Sixty years ago today, on December 9, 1960, the first episode of Coronation Street aired. Since then, its origin story has been told many times, many ways.

Granada_Studios_Manchester_geograph.org_.uk_GaryReggae-2005-wikicommonsHere is the story as told to me by the two people who had the idea for a home-grown serial for Northern England television.

In 1960, Harry Elton was a producer at Granada Studios. I talked to him by telephone in 1991. He was at his home in Ottawa, Ontario. Tony Warren was a young writer for Granada in 1960. I met him in Manchester in 1992. Although several months and thousands of kilometres apart, their stories meshed as if they were in the same room finishing each other’s sentences. So I wove the two together.

How it began

Elton: Granada was trying to develop local programming in accordance with government regulations about local content on the new private, commercial networks. I remembered the soap operas I had seen when growing up in Canada and later in Detroit. I knew that they were extremely popular, and that production costs were lower because the same sets could be used over and over and actors could be signed on long contracts.

There was this kid writing for Granada, Captain Biggles and other series. He had a way of hearing Manchester, Salford talk. I asked him to write a pilot and outline for a thirteen-week season, about life in the north. He went away, and came back with the first episode of Coronation Street.

Warren: I invented it out of sheer desperation… I was adapting [Biggles] novels of Captain W. E. Johns, which I found fascist and incomprehensible. I said to Harry Elton, let me write what I know about – show business. He said that’s the kiss of death for television… I said I know about the north of England. And more to humour me than anything else he said go away and come back in twenty-four hours with a show that’ll take the world by the ears.

Elton: I remember after the pilot was shown… they sat down to pronounce. The first man, who was an American variety person, said, That’s a soap opera! You don’t put that crap on at seven o’clock at night, you put that on in the daytime.

Corrie-St-1960-youtube.comCecil Bernstein [Granada co-founder] said, Harry, you’ve made a horrible mistake, and we can’t blame you because you’re a Canadian… North Country accents are the language of George Formby and Old Mother Riley. And whenever people hear it, they laugh. They’ll never take it seriously.

The general manager, who had been working with Korda in film, said, There’s not a single thing I like about that programme. I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the sets, and I don’t like the stories. Surely people watch television to be taken out of their dreary lives, not to have their noses rubbed into reality!

Warren: Harry Elton refused to be defeated… He set up monitors all round the studio. And he sent out memos to everybody from the chairman down to the cleaners and said, today at one o’clock, we will be showing two episodes of a home-grown serial that we believe in. We would like you to watch it and fill in questionnaires.

tv-times-16-dec-1960-ep-3-coronationstreet.fandom.comThe reactions in these questionnaires were exactly the same as the reactions have always been ever since to Coronation Street. The people either loved it or they loathed it, but they didn’t feel indifferently about it. The ones who loved it far outweighed the ones who loathed it. And so it was the people who got the show onto the air, not the powers that be! The people and a Canadian!

Elton: Just as all my distinguished colleagues felt that the show wouldn’t work, the critics, all of them I think… knocked the show. Television was important enough, and there were only the two channels, so that everybody wrote on it. It was in The Times, The Observer, The Guardian.

There was a young Canadian who was writing television criticism for one of the distinguished weeklies… He said, This is pap! This is what Lenin was talking about when he talked about religion – it was the opium of the people. Granada are now putting out this crap to make the working classes, who are the victims of British society, feel contented in their miserable lot. That Canadian’s name was Mordecai Richler.

Jump borders

corriepedia-on-twitter Corrie Origin StoryTony Warren wrote only those first thirteen episodes. But in those, he set the standard for the show. It was what he had written in a memo to the bosses at the very beginning: “A fascinating freemasonry, a volume of unwritten rules. These are the driving forces behind life in a working-class street in the north of England… The purpose… is to entertain by examining a community of this kind and initiating the viewer into the ways of the people who live there.”

He allowed for that examination because he was so adept at reproducing that world. Harry Elton said of Tony Warren: “His ability was to reflect the way people really talked, but with a sharp edge… Everywhere he went on buses he would have a pencil and a piece of paper and he would listen to people talk, and write down what they said… So he set the style… It was real people talking to each other about real problems… When you have that kind of reality, it has a universality about it that lets it jump over borders.”

Tony Warren said: “I couldn’t turn to the court pages of a newspaper without reading ‘She came from a Coronation Street-type background’. I remember a morning sitting on a bus, overhearing two women ‘Did you see it last night?’ I thought, I’ll never escape this thing!”

Harry Elton returned to Canada in 1963, where he worked in radio and television, including the CBC, and for the Canadian Museum of Civilization. His wife, Marguerite tony-warren-harry-elton-1995-corriepediaMcDonald, was the original host of CBC Radio’s political programme The House. Mr. Elton died in 2004 at the age of 74.

Tony Warren became a novelist, writing about the North of England and show business. He also was a consultant for Coronation Street, “the only person who is paid to watch it” as he delightedly told me. He died in 2016 at the age of 79.

Coronation Street 60 Screen_Shot_2020 itvThe 2010 movie The Road to Coronation Street is a beautiful telling of the show’s origins . If you haven’t watched it, do (see below). The story told above is from Other Worlds, my book about British and American soaps . The week of 60th anniversary special episodes starts in Canada on CBC on Friday, December 18th.

Covid Corrie

Overnight, Covid-19 will hit Weatherfield. People who had been freely walking around Coronation Street without a corona care in the world will be masked and distancing themselves. Tonight in Britain, and soon in Canada, the residents of Coronation Street will be living like we have been.

Covid Corrie taping photo ITV standard.co.ukExecutive producer Iain MacLeod was on CBC Radio’s q this morning to talk about how the show is dealing with a pandemic that has outlasted their stock of episodes in the can. The virus, and all the precautions, will hit immediately. There’s nothing else they can do, he said. To have a build up to it would require extensive reshooting. So they are asking for a suspension of disbelief from viewers. As he said, the viewers know the reality, so should recognize that the show has little choice.

Taping in a pandemic

Corrie and all the soaps began making changes months ago as the pandemic became increasingly serious. Coronation Street cut back from six episodes to three a week. That bought time with already taped episodes spread over twice as long.

Older and at-risk actors were furloughed. Writers scrambled to explain their disappearance. Social distancing was instituted for actors. Camera people and editors scrambled to make it look as if people weren’t staying clear of others while they actually were.

Steamy romantic scenes stopped. Large crowd scenes stopped. But the show has to look like the show, and street life had to look normal. The constraints imposed by health precautions called for inventive production techniques. Camera angles, for example, could give an illusion of closeness between actors when they were actually far apart.

Production ceased for a couple of months. I think that is probably a first ever in its 60 year history. When work resumed, they decided to bring the pandemic into the life of the street. The distancing they had already been practicing would become part of the story.

Covid-19 production problems remain, however. Within the bubble of our family, we don’t need to stay distant and wear masks. But the actors playing members of a family don’t live together in real life. So camera and editing tricks still are needed to get around that. Stand-ins were used if possible. The real life mother of a child stood in for the screen mother in one scene, Cole said. A mannequin stood in for an actor in another.

The show will go on. But bringing reality in is a good thing, I think. Watching television, I find myself distracted when people are too close together. Get back, I think, don’t you know better! A soap is part of our daily lives, so it’s especially jarring to see its world so obviously at odds with our own. And maybe we’ll make a new game for watching: spot the Covid camera trick.

Why watch Corrie?

It’s been just over a year since I stopped watching Coronation Street. I still record it, and read the on-screen synopses as I delete episodes.

why watch corrie delete episodes screen photo dstewartHave I been tempted to watch? Yes. Some days when I just feel like flopping on the couch and not checking on the Donald Trump Comedy/Horror Hour. Or when the two line synopsis makes me curious. What’s happening with Carla, I wonder. But I have not watched even one episode.

I do think about the show and why it’s now okay with me to let it go. After all, Coronation Street has been an important part of my life. Having no profound thoughts of my own, I thought google it. See if there’s any new critical or analytic insights into the show and/or viewership.

Ask Google: “Why watch Coronation Street”

Below is the best of what came up on the first page.

nan was so excited print carakansala.comThis delightful print is by Cara Kansala of Grumpy Goat Gallery in Newfoundland. Tap for a larger view of it or go to carakansala.com to see more of her work.

Why watch in Canada, British guy asks

why watch in Canada Reddit questionThe poster on Reddit is surprised that Coronation Street is on prime-time in Canada. Tap to enlarge the image and you’ll be able to read the whole exchange. In short, the answer says that Canada is part of the British diaspora and therefore reminders of “home” are popular. I have no stats on it, but I’d be surprised if it was the reason most Canadian fans watch, even long-time ones.

twitter watch from beginningWell, you could watch from the beginning if you wanted to. Box sets are available. I don’t think they include every episode. But you could get a good sense of the show. Even in condensed form, though, it would be a very big project. And it probably has been done.

yahoo answer what kind of audience and why watchThese Yahoo answers made me laugh out loud. Especially “the kind of people who have lost the remote.”

“A half hour of my life…”

facebook comment hard to give it up“Hard to give it up after 45-50 years!” Maybe that’s still the best insight of all. You know the people. So no matter how silly they’re being, or boring, you stick with them.

At the top of the search results  page was Milo the dog on YouTube. For good reason. He could quickly and easily answer that thorny question of why we watch. So he can sing along with the theme music.

Leaving The Street

This week I only watched Monday’s double episode. I decided at the end of it that I’m leaving the Street. Not forever – I hope. But for now, until something changes that makes it enjoyable for me to watch again.

pvr-screen with watched corrie episodes checkedSince the late 1980s, I’ve watched consistently. I have loved it, and I’ve despaired of it. I’ve suffered through executive producers who were hell-bent on remaking it into something else. I have celebrated when it got back on track. Over those decades, I’ve watched it get more like an American soap. Younger and more beautiful actors taking centre stage. More explosive storylines, more action, less nuance of daily life of regular people. And I’ve stuck with it.

rosie-gemma-and-modelBut the past few months, I’ve more often found myself looking at the clock, wondering if it will be over soon. Looking at the remote, particularly the fast-forward button. Realizing I’m a couple episodes behind, oh dear, when will I be able to catch up. Thinking ‘get off my screen’ about too many characters.

Six episodes

Adding an episode, to six per week, did it for me. Just that extra half hour made watching, keeping caught up, feel like work.pat-points-gun-at-gary

Make time for small moments as well as big stories. That’s what executive producer Kate Oates said they would do with that extra episode. But that’s not what I’ve seen. Scads of new characters, high drama and PSA teaching storylines instead. I’m tired of it. Not any of those things individually, just all of them all the time.

Soap + Crime thriller + Sitcom

wedding-guests-in-bistroMonday’s second episode bounced between three different genres. Crime thriller with Phelan free and threatening again. Soap opera with Robert leaving Michelle and their wedding in the lurch. “Just talk to her, ya plank!” I said, without enthusiasm. So many soap clichés lately, you can’t even care. A sitcom scenario with Rosie, Gemma and somebody new planning the entrapment of somebody else new. (See today’s Scene of the Week for these three scenes.)

Public Service Announcements

shona-and-david-discuss-his-rapeDavid and male rape – a well done and valuable education story, yes. But we haven’t even dealt fully with the suicide and mental health PSA of Aiden. The spectre of grooming and sexual abuse still hovers over Bethany.

robert leaving for londonRobert still has ongoing storylines of a) testicular cancer and b) steroid use. (There’s also Michelle’s Lost and Found sons – straight out of How to Write a Soap Opera.) And remember Billy and his pain-induced heroin use? Has he had a miracle cure for both injury and addiction?

Way too many issues to explore in depth and realistically in terms of the characters’ lives. Plus it’s tiring to watch. Particularly now, when watching the news is a full out emotional rollercoaster ride, Coronation Street would be a nice place to go for a bit of respite.

Leaving for a bit of rest

I don’t think it can feel that much different in the UK than in Canada. Here we have Trump and his bully rants about trade tariffs. In the UK, you have that, as well as Brexit. Exhausting just keeping up. So to also need a score card to keep up with Corrie? No. I can’t do anything about real world politics. But I can control entertainment viewing. If Coronation Street has become as frustrating to watch as the news, it’s time to switch it off.leaving corrie with delete recordings tv screen

I am not advocating that Corrie opt out of the real world and become a bastion of old-fashioned cozy Britain. Just slow down a bit and return to your roots – in both story and storytelling methods. Coronation Street is not a crime drama, sitcom or American soap. It’s not a pulpit or a classroom. It’s a neighbourhood. When it goes back to that, I will be back with bells on!

Earls of Grantham

Earls of Grantham coat of armsBelow is the lineage of the Earls of Grantham. The family name is Crawley, and their home is Downton Abbey in Yorkshire.

It is a fictional family in a television series I have never watched. I found family trees online, read summaries of the show and characters, and mapped out connections. Could I use only the internet to figure out a family history, I wondered. I think I did, and it made me want to get to know them better.

I will meet the Crawleys on DVD. Those watching on television will end their acquaintance with them in 2016. The sixth, and final, season on PBS begins January 3rd. The series is set between April 1912 and December 1925.

The Crawley family was given the Earldom of Grantham around 1772 for deeds unspecified. A subsidiary title is Viscount Downton. The earl’s heir may use this as a courtesy title. The title and estate are entailed, meaning inheritance can be passed only through the legitimate male line.

Grantham Family Tree

Earls of Grantham family tree Downton Abbey
Tap to enlarge. Note: Rosamund’s children were cut prior to show’s airing.

The house and lands of Downton Abbey came into possession of the Crawley family through the unnamed daughter-in-law of the 3rd Earl, great-grandmother of the ‘present’ earl, Robert Crawley. Presumably, she inherited her family home or received it through the will of a previous husband.

Jessica Fellowes, author of companion books to the series, refers to grave of sybil daughter of 5th earl dailymail.co.uk 1 Mar 2013Robert Crawley as the 7th Earl of Grantham. Other sources call him the 6th. Observant viewers noted a publicity shot of the gravestone of Sybil, Robert’s daughter. Carved on it is “daughter of the 5th Earl of Grantham”. The series does not fully explain the line of inheritance.

Robert had no son and no brother so after he inherited the title, his heir presumptive became his first cousin James, the son of his father’s unnamed brother. James had a son Patrick, who would inherit in turn. However, both men died on the Titanic in 1912. The male next closest in the family line was Matthew Crawley, Robert’s 3rd cousin once removed. The presumably deceased Reginald was Matthew’s father.

Amazon link for World of Downton Abbey
Click for book on Amazon

While daughters could not inherit, strategic marriage could keep it in the immediate family. Robert and his mother Violet had sought marriage between Robert’s daughter Mary and Patrick, son of then heir presumptive 1st cousin James Crawley. After their deaths, Mary wed the new heir Matthew and they had a son, George. Matthew soon after died, making George heir presumptive.

Through the marriage of his daughter to the heir, Robert’s grandson will be earl after him. Mary, daughter of one earl and mother of the next, will never be countess. She would have held that title only through her husband had he lived to become the next earl.

Apples to Apples

TV writer David Shore was on CBC Radio’s q (formerly Q) today. He was introduced as battle creek cbs by David Shorecreator of House and Battle Creek, writer on Due South and originally from London Ont.

He described Battle Creek as premised on male friendship. Then they discussed male friends or frenemies in House. House? Wilson’s friendship with House was a big part of the show, but not vital to it. Not like the relationship between the lead characters in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek is a ‘fish out of water’ buddy cop show about a quirky partnership between a morally upright FBI agent and a cynical Battle Creek, Michigan cop. Due South was a ‘fish out of water’ buddy cop show about a quirky partnership between a morally upright Mountie and a cynical Chicago cop. I waited for that comparison. Didn’t happen.

Due South revisited

Amazon link for Due South
Click for Amazon link

Watching the first episode of Battle Creek, I thought, wow, this is Due South twenty years later with two Americans. I like the show, just as I liked Due South.

A CTV series, Due South was a cult hit in the US for CBS. Stereotypes of the Canadian worldview versus American was the appeal but also a drawback to going beyond “cult” to “mainstream”. Battle Creek, with colliding American worldviews, will not have that problem.

Eric Peterson and Street Legal

Listening today, hoping the discussion would move to the shows about which male friendship would be really applicable, I thought of a Street-LegalQ interview with Canadian actor Eric Peterson. The host introduced him as a star of CTV’s Corner Gas, the musical Billy Bishop Goes to War and CBC’s 1980s Street Legal. He talked eloquently about the importance of exploring Canadian culture in Canadian entertainment. Corner Gas and the story of Canadian WWI pilot Billy Bishop were the examples. Why not Street Legal?

LA Law dvd Amazon link
Click for Amazon link

Canadian-made, -set and -aired, Street Legal started just months after NBC’s LA Law. Both centred on law firms – big deals, backstabbing, sex and intrigue. LA Law‘s was big and
glitzy, Street Legal‘s was Toronto storefront office scale. Canadian, eh? I waited to hear what Mr. Peterson would say about Canadian and American takes on the same dramatic premise. Didn’t happen.

Both q and Q’s interviews led straight to Street Legal and Due South: apples to apples comparisons. If q/Q have no staff familiar with old Canadian television shows, please contact me. I’ll be your “old codger” if you can’t find one in the CBC building.

She Loves You

Some things you will never ever forget. One, for me, is Ed Sullivan introducing “these CBS Beatles ad on tvyoungsters from Liverpool.”  Hands clenched on head, pulling at hair, “eek, aah, oohh”.  In the living room with parents, sitting on the floor in front of the television, screaming. Watching John-Paul-George-and-Ringo, February 9, 1964. I still can hear “well, she was just seventeen, and you know what I mean, the way she looks, is way beyond compare.”

Even now – old enough to realize that my parents must have been looking askance at each other, each blaming the other’s gene pool for having produced such a half-wit of a child – the memory sends shivers through me. After that and before, I watched bands I loved on girl-in-audience-screenshotEd Sullivan’s “shew”.  But the Beatles were “way beyond compare.”

I think we in North America were lucky in our introduction to them. They were already an established sensation by the time they came on tour. We already knew it was ok to like them; indeed being Beatle-crazy was de rigueur. Probably in England, there had been girls who said about the beginning Beatles ‘they’re ok but it’s Frankie and the Fruitcakes who are really going to make it big.’  In light of knighthoods, billions in sales and historical perspective of the musical and social change started by the Beatles, those girls probably still feel a bit silly.

Mersey influence

But Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein made a way bigger misjudgment. According to Terry O’Reilly on CBC’s Under the Influence, Epstein let someone else market Beatles products – at a 90/10 split, the 10% going to the Beatles. Who didn’t buy a Beatle wig? And I had Beatles cards tv screenshotBeatles bubblegum trading cards, uncut sheets. My father got them from a friend at O-Pee-Chee Gum. I cut them into individual cards, not keeping even one whole. I could have retired on the proceeds of those.

The fact that none of the plentitude of Mersey Beat bands ever matched the Beatles’ success does not deny the success that many did achieve due to the spin-off effect. The Beatles were not created in a vacuum; they were influenced by their contemporaries and they opened doors for others.

In September 1964, the Beatles came to Toronto. My mother would not let me go, despite wheedling DC5 London Ont UWO Archives lfpress.com James Reaney 3Nov2011and tantrums. Two months later, my friends and I stood along Oxford Street in London (Ont.), waiting for the Dave Clark Five to drive past. They were playing at Treasure Island Gardens and, again, my mother said I couldn’t go. But being in that crowd of girls on the street, screaming our heads off, made up for a lot. The Dave Clark Five weren’t the Beatles, but they were close enough. Tellingly, I have no memory of the Rolling Stones coming to London the next year. That suggests their music was beyond my pre-adolescent ken.

Beau-Brummels-Teen-Aug-66-beaubrummels.tripod.com_laugh_60sjpgTerry O’Reilly mentioned a 1960s band called the Beau Brummels. They were from California but their music and foppish suits seemed British. And, maybe more importantly, their name put their records alphabetically right after the Beatles in record bins, thereby increasing their sales.

I will be watching the Beatles special February 9th  on CBS. I’ll probably sit on the floor as close as possible to the tv, maybe scream a little. For sure I’ll cry a little for four lads, and a girl from long ago.

Ford Branding

Rob Ford at Ford Nation t-shirt boothTobacco companies are probably heaving a huge sigh of relief. As far as we know, no cigarettes were smoked by Mayor Rob Ford. So they do not need to distance themselves and their brands from him. One of few industries spared.

Due to the mayor’s littering, Newfoundland’s Iceberg Vodka distillery released a statement decrying drinking and driving. Ford Motor Company said its logo can’t be used on t-shirts made by his supporters. CFL officials must have had kittens seeing him wearing The-Bullpen-94.5-facebook meme of shocked cat, Rob Ford eats what?a Toronto Argonauts jersey while making his infamous statements Thursday about whom he was going to sue and why.

And speaking of kittens, I wonder when a cat food company will distance themselves from him after all of his revelations on Thursday.

Ford grist for the comedy mill

We made a point of watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report Thursday night. This was way too good for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to pass up. They and every other comedian could not believe he had actually said what he said. In a nation grown accustomed to dirty little scandals like Anthony Weiner’s crotch ‘selfies’, Elliot Spitzer’s call-girls and a President’s hair-splitting denials of what exactly he dailyshow-14-Nov-13was doing with an intern, you would think nothing could shock American late night tv hosts. So when the mayor of a Canadian city grosses them out, that’s an accomplishment of some sort.

I’m not a fan of Saturday Night Live, but I saw they plan to do something about him in their show this week. You know we’ll be watching, along with the rest of Canada – except for maybe a few truly mortified Torontonians.

iceberg vodka-bottle-TO-police-picCongratulations, Mayor Ford, you have well and truly made Toronto a memorable city. And provided hours of entertainment, both with your own words and the commentaries on them. Thank you. I haven’t enjoyed watching the news so much since President Clinton was Bad Billy. Please don’t stop now!

Spoilers

I hate spoilers. It’s like walking into a movie as someone walks out of the previous screening and says “I would have never guessed it was the good guy that did it.” Spoilers Spoilers Alert kittensare like seeing your Christmas presents by accident. When I was a kid I did not want even a clue about what I might be getting. I still don’t. And I don’t want to know what’s coming up on Coronation Street. So I avoid UK Coronation Street sites. I only read Canadian timeline sites said to be “spoiler-free”. So imagine my disappointment when I learn something I didn’t want to know, whether it’s in a post, a comment or a tweet. They may not be intentional spoilers, but they spoil anyway.

Right now, I know two characters are leaving, due to posts on Canadian sites saying something like “Since so-and-so is leaving the show, we wonder if this is how they are going to write him/her out”. Well, no, I didn’t know so-and-so was leaving and didn’t want to. To add insult to injury, I know the circumstances for the departure of one of those characters. That’s thanks to a tweet posted on a Canadian site and a well-intentioned ad on another one. For sure, the tweet and ad could have waited a week or so until we all in Canada see on our screens the particular event.

Some real life spoilers are unavoidable

Sometimes, real life events make real-life news and therefore spoilers are unavoidable. The death of actress Betty Driver made us all know that, sadly, we would also the face the news item about death of Betty Driver in Daily-Mail-15-Oct-2011death of her character Betty Williams. Real-life reporting of legal problems meant we would somehow see the characters of Kevin and Ken being written out of the show. Those things I can accept because they are newsworthy realities.  Even the big anniversaries with special stories and lots of promotion – impossible to avoid.

But an actor deciding to leave or a contract not being renewed? If I were in the UK, I probably would know about it because of mainstream press coverage. But I do not live there. I learned the hard way, on British media sites, to employ tunnel vision when reading articles. I do not look at ads or promo lines for “in other news”. If I must go on a UK Corrie site, I have developed the ability to scan without actually reading to avoid digesting bits of information I don’t want to know.

I do everything in my power to avoid spoilers so it makes me feel let down when they pop up on Canadian sites that profess to be spoiler-man with many hands over facefree. They are enjoyable sites to read, to see what other Canadian Corrie fans are thinking. But too often, even there, I have learned things that ruin my pleasure in just watching the story.

At least now, being only two weeks behind the UK, the events in these spoilers come to pass quickly. But for that length of time, my viewing pleasure is lessened. And why?  If something is a spoiler, even by a day, is it that difficult to remove or clearly mark it with “SPOILER ALERT”?

A good article in the Calgary Herald about spoilers.