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Saturday, September 25, 1999 Published at 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK


Soaps criticised for divorce rates

The Duckworths (far left and right): praised for resolving their problems

Coronation Street's Jack and Vera Duckworth have been held up as a model married couple by a bishop who has criticised soap operas for their high divorce rates.

The Right Reverend Allan Chesters, Bishop of Blackburn, said the Duckworth's had the only stable marriage in the soaps.

[ image: Street fans saw Maxine and Ashley wed last week]
Street fans saw Maxine and Ashley wed last week
Addressing clergy at the diocesan synod in Accrington, Lancashire, he said there were far more divorces and broken relationships in programmes like Coronation Street and EastEnders than in real life.

"I think the writers ought to present a more happy view of marriage and be able to write a script in which good things happen to people," said Bishop Chesters.

"The only way they seem to be able to write out characters and keep their ratings up is by getting them to divorce.

Pain portrayed

"From time to time they might try to show couples managing to work things out.

"That's the good thing about Jack and Vera - they might argue, but they always try to work things out."

But he admitted there was a positive side to divorce storylines as they did portray the pain and anguish people went through.

Earlier this week, the week the Church of England launched new initiatives aimed at promoting marriage.

A spokesman for Granada Television said: "We seem to get more and more bishops and vicars determined to latch on to television to make their points, and although we respect them we don't agree.

"Family life has been the bedrock of Coronation Street for many years and it will continue to be so.

"We have many happy couples, including Jack and Vera Duckworth, Martin and Gail Platt and until recently Alf and Audrey Roberts." "Judy and Gary Mallett's marriage was also one of the happiest in soap history until it ended tragically."

The spokesman said that Jack and Vera had appeared more often than any other couple in Coronation Street over the past few years.

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