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Coronation Street EXCLUSIVE: Interview with producer Stuart Blackburn

soaps-coronation-street-producer-stuart-blackburnIt’s a big year ahead for Coronation Street and I was lucky enough to get a massive insight into what’s afoot when I was invited to a press screening of upcoming storylines as well as a chance to meet some of the up and coming as well as established Corrie stars.

As well as chatting to the various cast members about what is to come for their alter egos, I was also able to have an extended conversation with the man behind it all, Stuart Blackburn and, judging by what he says, 2015 could well be Corrie’s year. Be warned, there are SPOILERS aplenty.

Await no further, here’s a full transcript of what he had to say:

Tell us about the bus crash…
2014 was an action packed year for Corrie and early 2015 is focused on a spectacular crash. It isn’t just a stunt for stunt’s sake, let’s get that out of the way, it’s a turning point for a lot of characters. Everyone involved in filming these dramatic episodes is very proud of the end results.

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Coronation Street: Sally reads too much into this one…

Coronation_Street_spoilers__Sally_to_accuse_Tim_and_Anna_of_having_an_affair__reveals_Sally_DynevorThank heavens for small mercies: some Corrie episodes that I actually enjoyed! This is becoming a rare treat these days but last night’s double was an entertaining hour of soap.

Anything that focuses on the brilliant Sally Webster, played by Sally Dynevor, is automatically half way there. I make no secret of the fact that I adore Sally; she is classic Corrie and always delivers, whether it’s in her eager to please factory scenes, her outrageous snobbery moments or her down to earth kitchen sink drama, she is undoubtedly one of the show’s strongest characters.

Pairing her with Tim was a stroke of wonder; the pair are fantastic together and I love the added layer of making Kevin and Tim mates. Corrie could have easily gone down the cliche path of making Kevin and Tim sworn rivals but the fact that Kevin is a somewhat awkward gooseberry in the relationship is inspired. Even though the rushed explanation into how Tim was able to message Faye wasn’t really satisfactory, the story of his inability to read is a strong one, even if it did crop up out of nowhere.

I am glad that the signs are showing that it was not a mere plot device to get Sal to make a fool of herself and I hope that Corrie see this one through properly and with the attention and sensitivity it warrants. Tim has become an endearing character and the viewers root for him so this development, if done right, can only be a positive one.

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Coronation Street: Where are you sticking that banana?

medium_i8mWYB5FgnmANF-9Im0Mqn_WHv1-PpR2yrr5tconb8MLast night’s Corrie double had it all didn’t it? Ongoing feuds exploding across the Street, veiled threats of prison violence, dodgy ex husbands threatening suicide whilst preparing a reunion dinner, exhaust pipes being stuffed with fruit, dog-napping by a child assisted by lesbian teens, pill popping mothers lying to GPs and, of course Gerogia May Foote dressed to the nines in a lovely blue number for the standard Weatherfield Monday night out.

The main story of the night was Todd inserting his banana into an exhaust pipe (please, do grow up) in order to cause a distraction that would allow him to sneak into the garage and steal an apple. No, you haven’t wandered into an alternate dimension; this was genuinely the basis of the main storyline from last night’s Corrie. And still, it outrated every other TV show yesterday by over a million viewers.

Let’s delve a little deeper (into the storyline, forget Todd’s banana). Todd is feeling a little put out as he is taking the flack for something which is almost entirely his fault. Wanting to lash out at Tyrone and Foghorn Fiz, he decided to leave a chilling message by nabbing the remainder of Luke’s lunch from under their noses.   Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Overstepping the mark (and the balcony)

It’s been a distressing few weeks on Coronation Street lately. Between the hypocrite harlot that is Katy condemning Anna for a night  of infidelity (yes, REALLY)  the horror of whatever has happened to poor Gail’s hair recently (if only there were some hairdressers in the family), and Antony Cotton being handed a new contract (I kid, I kid…) there hasn’t been a lot to smile about recently. Tina

Of course we have the equally traumatic events of Tina falling from a high balcony, grazing her knee and then further antagonising the man that caused her to fall. The result? Let’s just say that Rob’s temper combined with a metal bar led to blood and fake tan stains all over the cobbles.

Peter has hit the bottle again and is generally just going around being a nuisance, stressing Carla to the point of her collapsing in agony and tragically losing her baby. Being a prime suspect for Tina’s murder hasn’t helped lift her spirits much either, and spending a lot of time with mardy Michelle only exacerbates the gloom. Still, protective brother Rob is on hand to stand by her and he will do anything, ANYTHING, to help. Well, except for coming forward and admitting that he killed Tina, of course.   Continue reading

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Coronation Street live episode: One word – brilliant

I can’t remember any television programme in my life where I honestly had the urge to get on the phone and order the biggest bunch of flowers to be sent to the cast and crew.

I felt like that last night after watching the Coronation Street live episode. What an absolutely brilliant achievement. I didn’t spot one tiny mistake, not one fluffed line, missed cue, messed up camera angle or continuity slip.

Continuity, given that it had to fit into a week of episodes filmed probably months ago yet taking place in the same couple of hours, must have been a nightmare, but every detail was perfect, even down to David Platt’s rather odd hairstyle.

The acting was incredible, particularly as every storyline was really intense. We had Sally consoling Molly as she died beneath the rubble – but not before telling Sally that Kevin was the father of baby Jack. Sally Dynevor’s performance was heartbreaking.

So, too, was Jane Danson’s, as Leanne and Peter got married in the hospital just before Peter expired*. And Julia Haworth’s portrayal of Claire’s grief at the loss of Ashley was maybe the most convincing of all. Her shell-shocked face as she was led into the Rovers, knowing that in the morning she’d have to tell her two little boys that their dad was dead, well… come awards time next year, every award going should be heading Weatherfield way.

Meanwhile there was a birth, with Fiz producing Baby Stape three months prematurely. Baby Stape’s fate hangs in the balance, but Pa Stape is too busy worrying about the person he killed with a hammer – seems she’s not dead after all. Inconvenient. Becky resorted to looting in an effort to get the money together to pay off her sister and get Our Little Maxie returned to the Rovers. Gary Windass was mainly curled up on the floor at home reliving his Afghanistan nightmare. And Rita is still waiting to be found.

It wouldn’t be Corrie, and it wouldn’t have been bearable, if there wasn’t some humour to lighten proceedings. This was mainly supplied courtesy of Mad Mary and the always-reliable Graham, with his sad little realisation that he was now the sole keeper and bearer of the Elliott family sausage recipe.

It was all an absolutely spectacular achievement, and congratulations are due all round. Now where’s the number for Interflora?

Posted by PLA          (more Corrie posts here)

(*Just read on DS that Peter may not be dead. That would be a turn-up).

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Coronation Street: Welcome back, Sally

Corrie was a bit “meh” last night, what with Graham throwing (boring) spanners in the works of his blossoming relationship with Tina, John Stape pretending to be a furniture salesman (which he’s worse at than pretending to be a teacher – and was that a Harvey’s he was pretending to work in?) and Carla stealing away Nick Tilsley’s workforce and underwear contract, despite the fact that she has no premises and no machinery. All a bit silly, really.

But the episode was notable for the return of the fabulous Sally Dynevor (aka Whittaker), as Sally Webster. She’s been away having successful treatment for breast cancer, while her character has been “staying with her sister” after also having breast cancer. She believes that the storyline saved her life, as she found a lump when she was researching her role (watch a video of her talking about this here). She had the lump removed, and is currently seen on screen wearing a wig following her real-life chemotherapy.

As usual, Corrie scriptwriters handled Sally’s return beautifully. It was Sally Webster’s birthday, so Kevin and the girls had prepared a party in the garden, with balloons and a new chiminea (“Like the one I saw on Alan Titchmarsh!”). There were hugs all round, and it was properly moving, because the actors who play the Webster family have worked together for a long time and are very close.  Just in case Sally Webster gets any delusions that her return is universally welcomed, there were also a couple of muttered comments from her old adversary Janice Battersby.

Sally Dynevor supports the breast cancer charity Genesis.

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