Mildred adores everything about Coronation Street. She’s originally from a small town in Lancashire, you see, and the depiction of a close community settled along a cobbled terrace stirs up fond memories of home. Everything’s better up north. Blackpool Pier. Chips, gravy and mushy peas. Peter Kay remembering things.
She’s not alone, either. Millions of others like Mildred tune-in every evening to watch the exploits of all the famous characters. You know the ones. The chap from Red Dwarf. And the lass with glasses. There, in the corner of their own living rooms, are welcome members of an extended family, who are always glad to be seen, and whose lives Mildred probably knows in greater detail than some of her own relatives.
Many years ago, Mildred moved to London for work purposes. Now, among the hustle, bustle, smog and coffee-chains, the comparative tranquillity of ‘the street’ allows her to stay grounded, nostalgic, and free of home-sickness.
Luckily for Mildred, there are now countless other Corrie enthusiasts also living down south. One such lady, the slightly eccentric Coronation Street uber-fan Betty, makes Mildred a proposition. To enhance her understanding and appreciation of the soap, Mildred is introduced to a special club where she and her new pals can freely discuss in detail what they love about Coronation Street, the characters, the story-lines, and why no other soap even comes close.
Especially not Eastenders. Mildred and the clan despise Eastenders. All those market-stall holders harking, scrapping, ululating and sleeping with each other. The barbarity of it all. At least the families of Coronation Street go about their adulterous pastimes with an imbued sense of historic pride – yes, I may have slept with your wife, but my Grandfather worked down the coal mine, and there’s a brew on, and I’ve made a hotpot, so everything’s going to be basically fine.
What really rubs salt in the wounds is the fact that Eastenders, Corrie‘s main rival, is a ratings smash, winning countless awards and critical admiration. This riles Mildred and her allies up to boiling point. All this acclaim belongs to Coronation Street. Why must people waste their time obsessing over the tart-scratchings and wide-boy head-buttings of Albert Square when they should be embracing the myriad misdemeanours of them cheeky Barlows? Something must be done.
The Coronation Street enthusiasts are aware of an Eastenders convention being held nearby. They set off in Mildred’s rusty old Rover to sort it out.
Driving up the street where the event is taking place, they spot a lone figure exiting an events-hall wearing a “Save The Queen Vic!” t-shirt. Yanking hard on the steering wheel, Mildred veers the Rover up onto the pavement, striking the man down, before careering into a lamp-post. The ladies exit the vehicle, drag the gentleman’s bloodied body across the pavement, pin him up against a wall, and proceed to stab him multiple times in the head, neck, and torso, hacking him to pieces in front of a terrified crowd of onlookers and school-children, before calmly dumping his mutilated carcass in the middle of the road.
I’d really like to say that this scenario is far-fetched, but as recent events have underlined, attacks such as this are a truthful concern. Personally, I’m indifferent to all soaps – if you want to watch them religiously, that’s fine, but don’t expect me to alter my preferences based on whatever tastes you force upon me. The UK are certainly not going to undergo widespread viewings of General Hospital just because we are threatened with violence.
Of utmost importance, however, is for fans of Eastenders, Hollyoaks, Neighbours, Emmerdale, or whatever, to fully understand and appreciate that the actions of two psychotic, embittered fanatics do not accurately represent the mindset of the overwhelming majority of Coronation Street viewers, who are, at heart, peaceful, warm and generous.
You may like to know that I enjoy documentaries.