BORDER TERRIER enthusiasts are in uproar over a Coronation Street storyline which sees the introduction of a bad-tempered Border Terrier which takes chunks out of long-time Street stalwart Ken Barlow.
They fear that the dog’s antics on the long-running Granada TV soap will either alienate people against the breed by portraying it in a bad light, or may even cause it to surge in popularity, with people trying to acquire Border Terriers without any idea of their correct care and needs.
The storyline, which is due to be screened in the New Year sees Ken Barlow tormented by a dog that won't stop biting him. The long-serving character, played by Bill Roache, will be driven ‘barking mad’ by the dog after his mother-in-law Blanche Hunt, played by 69-year-old Maggie Jones, inherits the wayward animal, called Eccles, in her friend's will.
Viewers will see the dog bite Ken every time he enters the same room as the dog, prompting the long-suffering character to get down on all fours and growl at his four-legged tormentor to try and make it stop.
A soap insider was quoted in the Daily Star newspaper as saying: ‘It is fantastically funny TV. To have someone as staid as Ken down on all fours barking in the face of a dog is hilarious.
‘Ken's life goes from bad to worse when Eccles starts tearing up his newspapers and adopts his favourite chair!’
Bev Jackson, Border Terrier breed correspondent for OUR DOGS commented:
‘As you can imagine this is causing total uproar in the breed –we are not impressed! Countless numbers of disgusted breed supporters have contacted Granada TV to voice their disgust and have received the same, standard, patronising reply, which is disgusting in itself.’
The standard reply sent to Bev, along with other correspondents, was signed by David Nugent on behalf of the show and reads:
‘Thank you for your e-mail regarding Coronation Street and the arrival of Eccles; Blanche’s inheritance. I will of course ensure your comments reach both our Producer and Script Editor. As we shoot Coronation Street about eight weeks in advance of transmission we cannot ‘re-cast’ Eccles as another breed.
‘This story line is one of a light-hearted nature and IÅfm sure our many viewers will see it and treat it as such.
‘Once again many thanks for your e-mail and interest in Coronation Street and may I take this opportunity to wish you a Very Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year.
‘Yours with Best Wishes
David Nugent, Coronation Street’
Coronation Street. BAFTA Winner, Best Continuing Drama Serial 2005
Bev Jackson countered the replying, saying: "As the breed has its origins in the North they have upset a huge amount of their viewing numbers - maybe they won't be able to be ‘Best Continuing Drama Serial 2006’!’
Bev wrote to Mr Nugent:
‘My husband and family have been breeding Border Terriers for many years and like many of our fellow supporters of the breed care passionately about them and their welfare.
‘We always strive to ensure that the breed is portrayed in the proper light whichever field they appear in, be it family life, working, the show ring, whatever. The breed is an extremely sociable one and not one which is known for having a bad temperament.
‘Companies (as in the recent Walls Sausage advertising campaign which showed a Border Terrier attacking) who portray our beloved breed in a bad light incur the wrath of many ... your company by allowing such a storyline to be produced is just the sort of publicity our breed does not need. To have our breed portrayed in the way you intend to is disgusting.’
Bev, who has worked in the TV industry, is adamant that Mr Nugent’s assertion that the storyline cannot be changed is ‘utter rubbish’, claiming changes can be made to future episodes if problems are foreseen in the run-up to the screening date.
Indeed, Mr Nugent seemed to have missed the point that to portray ANY breed of dog in a bad light was not a responsible move, so it would not be simply a matter of re-casting Eccles as another breed. The damage done in any event would be against dogs as a whole.
A petition was started amongst Border Terrier exhibitors at last week’s LKA and over a hundred signatures were collected and was due to be sent to the programme’s production offices.
OUR DOGS sought a comment form the Coronation Street production office earlier this week, but at the time of going to press, no response had been received.