Yesterday was officially the final day of Christmas. En route to work I came across a couple of interesting reminders of this: The crane on the A6 in Longsight awkwardly removing the Christmas decorations from each and every lamp post, causing necessary havoc with the traffic whilst doing so. And a spirited rendition of ‘Hark the herald angel sings’* courtesy of the bell ringers at the Catholic church on Oxford Road.
Earlier in the week I watched The Road To Coronation Street on DVD. I had actually bought it as a Christmas present for my Grandad, who died just before Christmas, but decided to watch it myself. It’s quite short, but it packs a lot in. It tells the story of Tony Warren’s transformation from actor to writer at the newly formed Granada TV, and the long and difficult development, commissioning, casting and screening processes involved in getting the show on the air.
The Road To Coronation Street
It was a difficult programme to sell because Warren insisted on a Mancunian cast, and because the board at Granada were incapable of seeing the dramatic potential of the everyday and the regional, and thought hearing the Manchester accent (there are, of course, several Manchester accents) would cause viewers to turn off in droves.
Within a year of its first episode airing, Coronation Street was the most watched programme on British TV, and it would help launch the career of another young Manchester writer: Jack Rosenthal.
Thinking about The Road to Coronation Street, and the issues it raises, has caused me to think about two events in Salford this past year: The transfer of a number of BBC departments to Salford from London (and from Oxford Road), which despite the fanfare has neither been the great move north or the great job creation it was touted as: London staff, unsurprisingly, being very reluctant to re-locate, commuting instead, and far less jobs being created locally. The chances of MediaCity creating its own Coronation Street or its own Tony Warren or Jack Rosenthal looks very remote indeed.
Media City by Rupert Brun shared via a flickr creative commons licence
Also, on the Manchester/Salford border, an Indian student was shot dead on Boxing Day. That Anuj Bidve’s parents had found out about his death through Facebook before GMP contacted them, and that they had considered sending him to University in the US or Australia but had opted for the UK because they felt it would be ‘safer’, makes it even more terribly poignant. They had also re-mortgaged their house to pay the crippling fees international students must pay: £9,000 a year if you’re an undergraduate currently, and likely to be much higher when domestic students fees rise to £9,000 this September.
I finished reading Dorian Lynskey’s history of the protest song, 33 Revolutions Per Minute last night. It is excellent. By the end of the book he comes to the conclusion that he has been writing a eulogy though, and by and large, it’s hard not to agree with him: The student protests and the riots had no discernable soundtrack, and it would be nice to see Doyle and the Fourfathers ‘Welcome to austerity’ do its job, but it doesn’t seem to have caught the publics imagination like earlier protest songs would have done.
Image of MediaCity by Rupert Brun, June 2011. Shared via a flickr creative commons licence.
* – We did it at primary school. Primary school was less agnostic than high school, and favoured hymn practices and carol singing, not to mention the works of Lionel Bart and Gilbert and Sullivan come the festive season.
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