Shock change for Coronation Street:
Kerry Harvey takes a look at the big changes planned for the screening of Coronation Street on TVNZ 1.
British soap set to jump forward 18 months on TVNZ 1.
TVNZ is planning major changes to the way in which it screens Coronation Street and fans are likely to be left divided.
In an unprecedented move, Coronation Street is leaping ahead 18 months and will screen in New Zealand only a week after it goes to air in Britain.
Catch-up episodes will screen at 1pm Monday to Friday for viewers who want to follow the existing 2016 storylines.
The changes come into effect on Monday, June 11 with the soap screening nightly at 9.30pm for the first week before reverting to a regular Wednesday through Friday
timeslot. For viewers wanting to be brought up to date, a two-hour special will screen on Sunday, June 10, recapping key storylines across the 18-month lag. It’s the biggest shake-up to Coronation Street since it was moved to a 5.30pm timeslot in 2011 before fan pressure led to a change of heart by TVNZ and it regained its evening position. The leap forward means it will be the first time in the drama’s 54-year run on New Zealand television that it has been so up to date. Coronation Street debuted in the UK in 1960 and began screening here four years later. At the moment the soap
“We are not going to make the jump to go ahead and then fall behind.”
– John Kelly
is running 18 months behind the UK but the time gap has been much smaller in the past. Fans have repeatedly vented their anger that the soap has slipped so far behind the UK, and TVNZ’s General Manager Of Programming, John Kelly, appears to be sympathetic to their views.
“We were increasingly frustrated about the delays too,” he says.
“There were great storylines that were being talked about in the UK but we couldn’t take advantage of that and get people excited about the show.
“We love the show. It is an absolute cornerstone of the TVNZ 1 schedule and it is a really big performer for us OnDemand. “We have spent a lot of time and effort researching what our viewers want. We’ve listened to them and they were increasingly frustrated about the delays and we think now is the right time
to do something about it.”
TVNZ carried out extensive consultation with the 10,000 viewers who make up its Green Room Panel, to find out just what those fans wanted. Nearly 1300 panellists responded and it was apparent the biggest concern was the delay between New Zealand and UK episodes.
Twenty per cent said overseas spoilers ruining storylines were frustrating them and many indicated they would like to jump ahead.
“ITV is producing a two-hour special which we are going to play on Sunday, June 10 at 8.30pm. It’s called Coronation Street: From Here To Now and covers the major storylines and events from the last episode we screen until where we will jump in,” Kelly says.
The survey also highlighted many people still wanted to see the intervening episodes and these will screen on weekdays at 1pm. “There was a chunk of people who said, ‘I
want to watch the new’ and there were others to whom the time delay didn’t matter,” Kelly says.
“So what we are going to do is keep the series that we’re currently running and it will continue but be accelerated. We will play 10 episodes a week instead of the six that are currently playing and then they will also be available OnDemand.”
New Zealand fans will join the UK storyline as a serial killer stalks the cobbles – a dramatic narrative that’s keeping viewers in the UK captivated and Kelly believes it is the ideal time for lapsed and new viewers to give the show a go.
“The point of making the jump is we want to grow the show. We believe it can do even better than it is doing at the moment,” he says.
“It has an incredibly broad audience. Yes, a lot of these viewers
are older and have grown up with the show but you would be astounded at the number of younger people that watch as well. It appeals to all audiences.”
And a very outspoken audience it is. Complaints about the show have long dominated letters to The TV Guide’s Mr Telly pages and past changes have prompted petitions and all manner of protests.
“Let me tell you, when the TV Guide arrives, the first page I go and take a look at is Mr Telly,” Kelly says.
“Sometimes I’m happy with him. Sometimes not. Honestly, we listen to the feedback and this is where this whole idea came from. I think we’re really lucky that we have such a passionate audience.”
Kelly acknowledges viewers don’t like too many changes but admits sometimes these are unavoidable.
“Since I’ve become GM of
programming, I’ve always talked to the programmers and said, ‘Guys, don’t muck around with Coro. If we have to take an episode off then we have to find a way of putting it back in,” he says.
“There will be some nights coming up in the future like where MasterChef might run long so we are looking at how we can accommodate Coronation Street.
“But we are not going to make the jump to go ahead and then fall behind.
“The big thing is we’re committed to the show and we want it to do well. I think what we’re doing here is we’re setting up a show for a bright future.”
Liz McDonald Tim Metcalfe Maria Connor
Jenny Bradley David Platt Tracy Barlow