Friday, June 30, 2006

Soap Fans Gather To Celebrate Favourite Show

Reprinted without permission, The Mississauga News, week of June 23 - 29, 2006.

All roads, it seems, lead to Coronation Street.

On the third Saturday of each month, enthusiastic Coronation Street fans gather at Crabby Joe's Tap and Grill, on Burnamthorpe Rd. in Mississauga, to discuss the popular British television soap opera, which airs in Canada on CBC. They come from all over the GTA, including Oshawa, Cambridge and London.

When they gather, the Barmcakes (named after the baked good sold in the cafe in the show) organize quizzes and discuss plot, characters and story line. Most members collect paraphernalia, mementoes and autographs. And, they regularly travel to the set in England to meet stars of the show.

Avid fan Shelley Gluskin said the show appeals to so many because it is realistic.

"The characters are not like those in the American soap operas where everyone is wearing elegant gowns and dripping in jewellery," said Gluskin. "How many people wear heavy jewellery and make-up during the day?"

Barmcakes president Deborah Cyr said she and her husband once waited outside the set of Coronation Street for seven-and-a-half hours hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars. Cyr said viewers not used to the show often find the different accents confusing and difficult to understand.

"The characters are all regular people and we feel we know them," said Cyr. "The story is all about the working middle class."

Joan McClement, who lives near the City Centre, founded the Barmcakes 14 years ago. Initially, the group met at her apartment, but as numbers grew it moved to different venues.

McClement has been a faithful follower of the show from the beginning and has visited Coronation Street sets more than 15 times. She dreads missing a single episode.

McClement said Canadian viewers watch shows that are nine months behind episodes aired in England. Some impatient members glean information about future episodes via the internet.

"CBC realized how popular it is, so they moved it to prime time... I think they realized that it has a real place in our hearts," said McClement.

The show, which first aired on Dec. 9, 1960, continues to weave a tale of intrigue and magic as the world's longest-running television drama.

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