I heard a TV reviewer (Lara Strongman) on National Radio say that one of the reasons she had stopped watching Coronation Street was because of the real-life sex charges swirling around two of its main characters, Ken Barlow (William Roache) and Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell). I wonder if she's alone.
Due to the 18 month time lag we have in NZ we get a long look at the accused for what may be may be the longest perp-walk in history. So this puts us in the strange position of watching someone entertain us who may possibly have done something terrible.
Kevin as it turns out is 'not guilty' of the crimes of which he was charged but because his character is so awful, so pathetic, so selfish, so badly dressed, I had long ago presumed his guilt.
Still, I watched. My history of Coro watching (yes I know it's called 'Corrie' in the UK but growing up in Onehunga it was always, and remains 'Coro') goes back further than any other show. It goes back to black and white. Over the years I've loved and hated the show. In my teens the theme music seemed the most depressing thing on TV and in those days there was a lot of competition for on-screen depression. The Waltons for example was considered a really great show.
In later years I have dipped in and out of Coro. What non-watchers don't realise is that at it's best it's more like The Sopranos than Eastenders. And what really sets it apart from other soaps is it's absurdly comedic story lines, which run alongside the more depressing ones. Has it been weird watching the two accused sex fiends? Sort of.
My reasons for abstinence from the show have more to do with getting tired of various characters or storylines and the call of a MySky full of HBO. But after six months clean I have to confess that I've fallen back into the filthy habit. My shame extends to feeling a tear well up recently when Chesney (the ginger one) sat with Schmeichel (a Great Dane) as he was put to sleep.
Not since Christopher sat on Adriana's terrier on The Sopranos while in a heroin fug has the passing of an on-screen mutt shocked me quite so much.
The thing about the show is the continuity. Not the sort that means that Kevin is wearing the same grubby and faded bomber jacket in every scene, but the sort that means you can be away for years at a time and drop back without having to scratch your head too much. There's the nosey neighbour. There's the stroppy barmaid. There's the gambler/alcoholic. There's the dirty rooter. The judge in the case against Le Vell warned the jury that they should not confuse him with the man they know and love on the street.
He needn't have bothered. Kevin along with his estranged wife Sally are among the members of the cast that I would always assume guilty of whatever they were charged. The judge can't have been a fan of the show. If he had been he would have said, "He may not be as much of despicable dick as he is on screen."
Both Kevin and Sally have become increasingly appalling in recent times. So much so I wonder if there's been any 'writers revenge' going on.
So will we feel any differently towards the appalling Kevin now that he is not guilty of the crimes? Or will it be like coming across OJ Simpson in the Naked Gun movies - just weird.