What's happening with Coronation Street: is there a crisis on the cobbles?
With rumours of unrest and a string of popular cast members leaving, is Corrie in trouble?
In terms of paying bills, a regular gig starring in the iconic Coronation Street must be the Holy Grail for actors. Yes, it’s relentless, there are long hours and not exactly loads of time to learn lines, but you’re being beamed into millions of people’s living rooms on a daily basis, plus a consistent pay cheque — what’s not to love?
Plenty — if the rumoured departure of eight intrinsic cast members is any indication.
While producers come and go every couple of years, none have been more infamous than Kate Oates and her successor. During her two-year stint, Oates brought viewers such groundbreaking storylines as the grooming of Bethany Platt, David Platt’s rape, and — most notably — Aidan Connor’s suicide.
Those still reading are probably thinking: ‘Well, that’s traumatic viewing of a teatime.’ Yes, it is, but think of the positives. Soap holds a (somewhat skewed) mirror up to society, providing an opportunity to openly discuss topics that we wouldn’t ordinarily shoot the breeze about.
While Oates had her detractors, she still managed to straddle both stark topics and moments of hilarity, something EastEnders rarely (if ever) managed to do in the past. Fittingly enough, Oates left Weatherfield for Walford E20 last year.
Since Oates’ successor, Iain MacLeod, took over in April 2018, there have been eight departures from the Cobbles. MacLeod is no stranger to ITV, having previously produced Emmerdale. Coincidentally (or not), during his tenure in The Dales, 10 actors left the show in the space of a year, including Kelvin Fletcher (Andy Sugden), Pasha Bocarie (Rakesh Kotecha), Adam Thomas (Adam Barton), Gillian Kearney (Emma Barton), Gemma Atkinson (Carly Hope), Jonathan Wrather (Pierce Harris), and the entire White family. The exodus didn’t garner the same column inches, however, because — well — it’s Emmerdale.
With EastEnders winning a TV Bafta on Sunday night and Emmerdale overtaking Corrie in recent ratings, the soap’s current situation seems increasingly bleak — Corrie took an uncharacteristic dip below Emmerdale during the recent bank holiday. While Emmerdale clocked in at 5.34 million on Monday, May 6, Corrie’s first episode trailed at 5.30m, while the second episode garnered 5.24m.
In 2012, Corrie was reaching viewing highs in the region of 11.43m. This figure comparatively pales to 2003, which saw numbers peak at 19.43m. As for 2019’s high to date? 8,231,437. In short, in the advent of online viewing platforms such as Netflix, the powers that be seriously need to realise the adage of ‘nothing is bigger than Corrie’ no longer applies.
CORRIE CULL OF 2019
Those who actually left our screens this year thus far include both Bhavna Limbachia (Rana Habeeb) and Connie Hyde (Gina Seddon), but that’s only the tip of the proverbial.
Malcolm Hebden AKA Norris Cole
Hebden had taken a hiatus some time ago after a massive heart attack. He is currently back on our screens for a spell to sort things with ‘wife’ Mary, but he is due to leave (again) next month.
Kym Marsh AKA Michelle Connor
Marsh first burst on to our TV screens in 2001 thanks to Simon Cowell’s first televised band manufacturing — Popstars. Hear’Say was born and then died promptly. Corrie wasn’t the 42-year-old’s first dalliance with acting; Marsh also made a one-off appearance on Doctors in 2005, and played a prostitute on Hollyoaks in 2006. When she appeared on the Cobbles as part of the original Connor clan in April 2006, she must have felt like she’d won the Lotto. She announced she was leaving the soap after 13 years on February 25 of this year.
Tristan Gemmill AKA Robert Preston
On April 26, Gemmill declared his intention to leave after four years via Twitter. The 51-year-old — who returned as a silver fox after Robert’s stint inside — said: “Folks, I just wanted to let you know that the time has come for me to hang up the chef’s gear and head for pastures new. There is still a lot of drama & shenanigans to come for Robert, but I will be leaving Corrie later in the year.”
Faye Brookes AKA Kate Connor
Brookes is reportedly leaving to concentrate on her union with partner Gareth Gates. Speaking via social media, the 31-year-old said: “Thanks to everyone for your amazing support, but after 4 fabulous years in Weatherfield, it’s time for me to explore new opportunities. I’ve loved playing Kate Connor, but she needs a break for a little while and so, with a song in my heart, I’m off to pastures new.” A duet awaits...
Katie McGlynn AKA Sinead Tinker
Last week, Katie McGlynn appeared on ITV’s Celebrity Juice alongside her onscreen husband, Rob Mallard. When Keith Lemon asked how long she had been portraying Sinead, she retorted: “Too long... I’m joking! I think it’s been about seven years.” The 25-year-old then felt compelled to tweet the following over the weekend: “Unlucky timing with my sarcastic humour on CelebJuice when these silly rumours are going around. I have not ‘quit’ Corrie, I am contracted well into this year & am fully committed to our long-running storyline, we do not know the outcome as of yet, which is how we like it!” She then added: “I LOVE working at Corrie and LOVE everyone there! It’s a fabulous place to work FYI” Noted, Katie. Noted.
Lucy Fallon AKA Bethany Platt
The latest ‘shock’ departure, Fallon announced her intent to leave on May 2: “After the most incredible four years, I have made the extremely difficult decision to leave Coronation Street at the end of my contract in 2020. It’s hard to put into words how much this show means to me. I’ve made lifelong friends with some of the most talented and hard-working people in the industry.” Seemingly we’ll see Lucy bust a move in the next season of Strictly.
So, to the big question; why are people jumping ship? The hours have reportedly increased. While there is no filming on a Saturday, some cast and crew have been drafted in to film on Sundays. In addition to the working hours, some of the younger cast members are feeling hard done by as a ban has been implemented on boosting earnings via social media endorsements. That could be construed as frustrating considering half the cast have to now brandish Costa coffee cups during scenes.
Will the walkout end here? Unlikely. Rumours suggest that another slew of actors will hand in their notice over the coming months. Not Sally Dynevor (Sally Metcalfe), however. She’s recently been quoted as saying: “Everyone is really happy. I am nailing my feet to the floor.”