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Is all publicity good publicity?

The Ashton Canal made a starring appearance in Coronation Street at the end of October.

But where the rest of TV is celebrating a waterway renaissance and airing property programmes about glamorous canalside flats, Corrie's canal remains a place of death and drownings. The plot is doubtless too byzantine to follow here, but the Manchester Evening News has a fair summary: "David drives his car into the canal at exactly the same spot where Richard Hillman tried to kill the entire Platt family. Meanwhile, in a nearby church, Sarah and Jason are in the middle of their marriage vows." According to a producer on the show, "I don't think we've done a more powerful hour of Coronation Street".

Fan website Corrieblog characterises the canal as "the Water of Death". They may have a point. Apart from the two episodes mentioned above, it cites Danny and Jamie fighting in the (surprisingly shallow) waterway; Steve and Vikram doing the same; Don Brennan driving a taxi into the water in another murder attempt; an "exploding canal boat"; Deirdre's husband being beaten to death; Angela Harris disposing of a murder weapon; and so on. As one poster drolly observes, "overall, not a place to be optimistic".

The location of this latest escapade was Portland Basin, the junction of the Ashton and Peak Forest - two BW-run canals. BW's staff newspaper reports that the filming took two days and "earned BW £5,000, money that will go back into the running of the canal network".

No-one would begrudge the cash-strapped BW a little extra income, of course. But is it worth it for such a negative portrayal of the canals - on what is, after all, Britain's most popular TV programme? To put the fee into context, the sponsorship deal for Coronation Street is worth an estimated £40,000 for each episode.

Monday 26 November  | Richard Fairhurst  | 3.09pm, Monday 26 November 2007

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