Sir Michael Parkinson has warned that Coronation Street is “in danger of becoming just another formulaic soap” and said he “recoiled” from the show’s recent murderous plotline.
The former chat show host and long-term fan of the soap said the gruesome storyline, which saw villain Pat Phelan (Connor McIntyre) kidnap, imprison and then murder Andy Carver (Oliver Farnworth) and Vinny Ashford (Ian Kelsey), felt a long way from the programme he enjoyed so much in the 1960s.
Reflecting on the days of classic characters like Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden, he wrote in the Radio Times: “I never imagined I would recoil from watching Coronation Street, but the storyline of the kidnapping and torture of Andy and Vinny and their brutal murder by Pat Phelan had little to do with that gentle, funny reminder of life in the North Country I discovered and so admired in the early 1960s when I joined Granada Television. ”
He continued: “Ironically, its overwhelming success carried seeds of change that would transform Tony Warren’s wonderful idea into a gold mine and sadly stimulated the beginnings of a change that allowed Pat Phelan to become a major player in a storyline more suited to a horror channel than a family show.
“The storyline is made even more shocking by Connor McIntyre’s performance as Phelan. His basilisk stare, the unnerving certainty of his murderous intent, is enough evidence of his ability to play a psychopath and worthy of a series about this murderous nutter – hopefully, far away from Coronation Street.”
Reflecting on how even then-prime minster Harold Wilson recognised members of the cast back then, Sir Michael added: “Which is why I am affronted by what I see as a gem like Coronation Street in danger of becoming just another formulaic soap.”
Watchdog Ofcom said it had received 390 complaints across the two episodes featuring the murder plotline, which it is assessing.
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