Shock change for Coro­na­tion Street:

Kerry Har­vey takes a look at the big changes planned for the screen­ing of Coro­na­tion Street on TVNZ 1.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

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

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