Coronation Street

The Secret of Soaps: The Story Behind the Stories

No one could accuse Coronation Street of taking it easy, even though this would be understandable for a middle-aged British telly institution. Over the last couple of years the ITV soap has given viewers multiple murders, deaths and suicides; explosions and a minibus crash; a pre-teen pregnancy; and even a gay vicar.

Audiences have been lapping up the drama, which regularly attracts more than 7 million viewers. Corrie remains the nation’s favourite soap.

Ten things you might not know about Coronation Street

Helen Worth as Gail Platt (Credit: ITV)

 

1. The Rovers by numbers

Everyone's favourite local watering hole the Rovers Return Inn may seem like a fake pub, but staff still pull a hefty number of pints each week, and Betty's famous hotpot lives on long after actress Betty Driver passed away in 2011. Weekly, The Rovers serves up 1,440 pints, 100 gin and tonics, and 84 hotpots - as well as 2,500 bags of crisps per year. The beer served is actually very weak - and very sweet - shandy, and the gin and tonics are just fizzy water and lime.

 

Doctor Who companion Millie Gibson talks soaps, spoilers and Ruby Sunday

Millie Gibson sits down, stretching her arms out to the side

If the actor is sleep deprived, it doesn’t show. The topic quickly turns to Doctor Who, she’s ready for it.

Gibson is joining Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) in the TARDIS as companion Ruby Sunday. The Christmas special – quietly revealed by Disney+ to be titled ‘The Church on Ruby Road’ – will be her debut. Has a year of filming that and the new series been enough to take the pressure off joining a programme as big as Doctor Who?

Working Lives: Drama Commissioner

What does the job involve?

Working with the brilliant producers and writers we have in this country, we look for dramas that we think people will watch and love on ITV – and then we facilitate the producers to make them. We’re out there telling people what we think might work for ITV, and the producers also come to us with great ideas.

We want ideas that will surprise and challenge us, so we’re not simply doing the same thing over and over again.

What was your route into TV?

The magic of Granada: David Liddiment's Anthony H Wilson Memorial Lecture

The lack of training grounds for talented new TV writers and directors has been branded “intolerable” by David Liddiment, one of the most influential commissioners and broadcasters of the past 40 years with a career that has spanned both ITV and the BBC.

Delivering the Anthony H Wilson Memorial Lecture to the RTS North West, he recalled his own career development and that of luminaries such as Sally Wainwright, the creator of Happy Valley, who began her career as a ­Coronation Street writer.

Do soaps wash too white?

EastEnders: Rudolph Walker has played Patrick Trueman since 2001 (Credit: BBC)

‘I look at them both standing under the lamp. Ingrid… and this plain Jane, with a muddy complexion, a big nose, and a mouth like a crack in a pie.’*

‘… but there’s a lovely view of the gasworks, we share a bathroom with the community, and this wallpaper’s contemporary. What more do you want?’**

Anyone thinking these lines were spoken by one of the sharp-tongued, backstreet battleaxes from an early episode of Coronation Street wouldn’t be far wrong. Here’s why.

A new era for ITV

The final quarter of 2022 is likely to go down as one of the most significant periods in the long and remarkable TV career of Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Managing Director of media and entertainment.

For starters, there’s been one of the most successful ever series of the entertainment flagship I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, not forgetting ITV1’s high-profile coverage of the Qatar World Cup, with plaudits for the irascible studio pundit Roy Keane and, crucially, the overdue launch of the broadcaster’s shiny and heavily marketed new streaming service, ITVX.

Working Lives: Fight director

What does the job involve?

I choreograph the physical action in the story, whether it’s with swords, a punch up or just a slap, ensuring that the motivation for the action lies in the story and the characters. It’s not about being fancy or funky: it’s about making the action the vehicle for the story, not the other way around.

 

So you must work closely with the director?