Coronation Street Volume 1: 1960-61

Coronation Street Volume 1: 1960-61
It's hard to explain the appeal of Coronation Street, because it appears on the surface to simply document how mundane life can be in Northern England. This isn't the kind of escapist soap opera North Americans are used to. It is such a mainstay of British television that it's almost criticism-proof and even after almost 50 years it's still one of the most viewed dramas in the UK, and also one of the CBC's most popular imports. Back in December 1960 when it first aired however, initial expectations were low. Only 13 episodes were commissioned to start with, and it was criticised for depicting an almost caricatured representation of what working class life was like. Yet it to struck a chord with the public and has never looked back. This collection of eight episodes from the first 13 months of Coronation Street is an interesting look at how it all started but apart from the theme tune, the Rover's Return pub and Ken Barlow, not much will be familiar to current viewers. For some peculiar reason, the very first episode isn't included — things kick off with the sixth and seventh instalments instead — and there is something a little unsatisfying about some of the other selections. There has been some effort to choose episodes where the plot has reached more pivotal points, such as a wedding or a hostage situation, but without knowing what happened before or after it's hard to feel fully invested. That said, it's obvious that right from the very beginning Coronation Street possessed a realism and sense of humour that made it easy to relate to. Coronation Street Volume 1: 1960-61 is an interesting look back at how the program started all those years ago, but its barebones approach stops it from being something that would appeal to non-die-hards. The picture quality isn't fantastic and unfortunately there are absolutely no extras. The addition of something that helped introduce the show's most important and colourful characters such as Ena Sharples and Hilda Ogden to those who never met them the first time around would have been especially useful and hopefully Volume 2 will be a little more generous. (E1)