Emmerdale

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.

TV production outside the M25 is alive and well

C+I’s most popular original show, Murdertown featuring Hull (Credit: A&E Networks)

In recent years, Channel 4’s new national HQ in Leeds and the BBC’s relocation of 2,300 posts to Salford have dominated our perception of out-of-London programme production.

This is perhaps not surprising: the corporation has the largest Ofcom quota for UK production outside the M25 – 50% – followed by Channel 4 and ITV, who both have 35%, and Channel 5, with 10%.

RTS Yorkshire announce nominations for 2019 Awards

Steve (Jack Dee) and Nicky (Kerry Godliman) in Bad Move (Credit: ITV)

Just under 100 industry professionals gathered at Prime’s new events space, Archive, to discover whether their work had made it on to the awards shortlist. Larry and Paul, a comedy act who have built up a strong local following on BBC Radio Leeds, hosted the launch.

Nominations for the 18 awards categories reflected the healthy level of production in the Yorkshire region. The hotly contested factual awards earned multiple nominations for Daisybeck Studios, Air TV, True North and True Vision Yorkshire.

Soaps are powerful in changing people's perceptions say Corrie's Daniel Brocklebank

Coronation Street's Daniel Brocklebank (Credit: Richard Kendal)

But, argued the actors, writers and producers on the panel at an RTS event in mid-July – “LGBTQ in soap: job done?” ­– the fight against prejudice is not yet won.

“Soaps are incredibly powerful in terms of being able to get a message out and in changing people’s perceptions,” said Daniel Brocklebank, who plays gay vicar Billy Mayhew in Coronation Street.

"Soap audiences are a sophisticated bunch", says Emmerdale's Iain MacLeod

After jumping ship from Hollyoaks to Emmerdale, MacLeod explains his excitement at bringing new ideas to the Yorkshire-based soap.

“I’m always looking for ways to do something differently or surprise the audience with something they haven’t thought of before,” he says.

And that he did. During a week-long storyline, which was ten months in the making, the small village turned to chaos when a multi-car pile up left viewers guessing who would exit the soap, with central characters at the heart of one of the biggest disasters in Emmerdale history.

Event Report: Emmerdale: Anatomy of a Hit

Emmerdale has been a mainstay of TV production in the Yorkshire region for more than 40 years. It has just had one of its most successful years, winning a raft of awards and having several episodes and storylines singled out for critical acclaim.

A panel of Emmerdale’s finest talked about ITV’s ratings-grabbing “super soap week”, which also involved Coronation Street, last October. The week of extraordinary episodes saw Emmerdale film its biggest stunt and use non-linear story-to dramatise a huge car crash from multiple points of view.