Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Cooking too hot for soap

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Sian Powers and Sophie Webster lock lips in 'Coronation Street'. Photo / ITV
Sian Powers and Sophie Webster lock lips in 'Coronation Street'. Photo / ITV

Coronation Street fans are like Warriors fans - loyal to the core.

You mess with them at your peril. In 1994, when Australian programmer Mike Lattin dared to tinker with the Street, cutting the number of episodes screened per week, viewers were outraged.

After a public outcry and a petition, Lattin was vanquished and the status quo was restored.

Coro fans will have a tougher fight this time around. This week, TVNZ announced that it was dumping the soap from prime time and replacing it with the final episodes of Australian Masterchef.

TVNZ said the numbers watching the long-running British soap have steadily declined over the years but last year's final episodes of Masterchef were a ratings bonanza - hence the change.

Coro will be cut to half an hour, and will run five days a week with an omnibus of the week's episodes screening on Saturday. TVNZ's spin was that they would be playing more Coronation Street and weren't fans lucky? But viewers weren't fooled. They know a demotion when they see one.

After Masterchef reaches its climax, there's the final of the Rugby World Cup and then the election, so TVNZ has said Coro might not be restored to what fans believe is its rightful place in prime time.

The editors are going to have a hell of a job cutting Coro into the sort of family friendly fare that's required to be screened in its new time slot. There are lesbian kisses, murders and a brutal rape coming up, so it's hard to see how the powers that be can transform this adult show into one with a G rating without reducing it to anodyne nonsense.

I haven't watched the Street since Martha Longhurst dropped dead during a singalong just days before she was due to head off to Tenerife - and with my evening job, I don't get to see a lot of television anyway. It makes no bones to me what TVNZ decides to screen where.

But thousands of Coro fans do care and they're winding themselves up to do battle.

- Herald on Sunday

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