(This post was originally posted by Scott on the Coronation Street Blog in November 2011.)
There's a new addition to the Coronation Street titles: the P for Product Placement. After decades of commercial television, Ofcom has finally decided that the British can watch programmes with real products and the world won't end.
As usual though, we've been rubbish at it: the first paid-for item is a cash machine in Dev's shop. Only eccentric millionaires will rush out to buy one of those. It's early days though: hopefully we'll soon reach the level of subtly inserted dialogue and products our American cousins have enjoyed for years, as you can see in this clip from Days of Our Lives:
To give the producers some ideas, here are five products that would fit right into the Street. You're welcome.
Before they became a nympho and a lesbian, Rosie and Sophie's entire existence was based around the consumption of fish fingers. They couldn't move more than five yards without Sally jamming a bright orange cod stick down their throat. I was pleased to see this is a tradition continued to this day, with Max barely out of the hands of Social Services before Gail was offering him fish fingers. However, with product placement, this could be taken further. Junior members of the cast will only be able to eat fish fingers from now on. Simon, Amy, Faye, all of them - whenever they're on screen, they'll have a pack of Birds Eye specials in their hand. Even little Hope can have them mashed up and fed to her. Ok, they might turn orange from all those artificial colourings, and they might get rickets through the lack of vegetables, but think of the revenues!
Katie: Oh Chesney, I can't wait to finally give birth to this baby, especially since I seem to have been pregnant since the Labour government. It will be such a thrill to feed him FISH FINGERS for the first time.
Chesney: BIRDS EYE FISH FINGERS?
Katie: Of course. Only the best for our little ginger moppet.
Deirdre: I'm suprised you didn't object to the repainting of the cobbles, Ken. It seems like the kind of thing you'd whine about.
Ken: Perhaps, but I'm all for something that looks like my favourite confectionery - SMARTIES. Would you like one?
Deirdre: Thank you. Mmm, that's tasty. Didn't they used to come in tubes?
Ken: Don't get me started.
Let's be honest: poor Gail's had a hell of a life. I'm surprised she can still get up in the morning, especially when she gets downstairs and finds David snarling at her across the breakfast table. Wouldn't it make perfect sense for her to be on antidepressants? They got such a bad press during the interminable Joe McIntyre storyline - it'd be good for the show to depict the upside of being smacked out of your head on a daily basis.
Gail: Thanks to this PROZAC, I'm ready to face the world. I'm happy, relaxed and up for anything. More FISH FINGERS, Max?
Kylie: Guess what? I'm pregnant.
(Gail takes some more PROZAC and laughs into the camera)
The show already subtly features music in the background during scenes in the pub or the bistro. Why not monetise this and have characters listen to the latest hits, all of which are currently available in the shops? Think how much better an argument between Stella and Karl would be if Westlife's Greatest Hits drowned out some of the dialogue. Or what an insight into the characters we'd get as they discussed their favourite tunes at length?
Roy: I've decided to stop playing Radio 3, Hayley. It's 2011 and I think the cafe should move with the times. I've bought this new CD, only £8.99 from HMV.
Hayley: Of course you could have downloaded it from iTunes for £7.99.
Roy: Of course. Shall I put it on?
(He does. All dialogue ceases for three minutes while they and every customer in the cafe listen to the lead track from the album).
Hayley: Goodness that was entertaining. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a piece of music more. What did you say it was called again?
Roy: It was Mama Do The Humps, by Rizzle Kicks. From the album Stereo Typical.
Let's be honest: we all get a bit bored with the constant dialogue about knickers in Underworld. It's all gussets here, lacy bras there, intricate stitching, blah blah blah. I suspect the writers don't even put that stuff in their script; they just leave a gap and put Carla yaks on about fabric for a couple of minutes. How much more interesting would it be if they were making stuff we cared about? Stuff we could go out and buy in our local Arndale?
Carla: Good news, everyone! I've decided to bin making underwear. I've got us a contract making clothes for TOP SHOP.
Julie: TOP SHOP? But will we be up to the challenge of crafting their excellent fashion and maintaining their high standards?
Carla: Of course we can. We can raise ourselves to TOP SHOP's levels. Now get sewing this pleather boob tube Michelle is modelling and which will retail for £20.99.
Job done. My cut is 10%, Mr Collinson.