Unprecedented times demand creative thinking. An RTS webinar heard that shows as different as ITV’s Coronation Street, the BBC’s Top Gear and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch have all learnt how to adapt their production routines to keep cast and crew safe in the age of Covid-19.
The week begins with an epic clear-out of my extremely messy home office in time for a makeover. Marie Kondo I am not. What does spark joy, though, is a small brass plaque inside one of the fitted cupboards. It reads: “Specially installed for Lynne Perrie.” This is a reminder that soap history is literally in the walls here.
Do you remember waking up to Noel Edmonds on Christmas morning, as you searched for a tangerine in your stocking? The Queen’s Speech, The Sound of Music? Christmas Celebrity Squares and over 20 million people watching Eric and Ernie?
Or what about today, with Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, The Alternative Queen’s Speech, Coronation Street and EastEnders but also perhaps a box set.
Is the future of Christmas TV a barren land of declining audiences as we all spend Christmas day asking Alexa?
The debate over women working in television has come a long way since 1986 when Coronation Street was an all-male cabal. In those days, all the female characters were written by men. Yet, as recently as 2015, when Red Productions unveiled the latest run of ITV’s trail-blazing cop show Scott and Bailey, the response of male journalists could be relentlessly sexist, revealed actor Lesley Sharp.
EastEnders: The Queen Vic Fire
June Sarpong chaired a panel of actors and programme makers from the BBC, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks to discuss LGBTQ representation in continuing drama.
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.
At last month's The Secret of the Soaps event, the masterminds behind Coronation Street revealed to RTS audiences the inside secrets of what has made the show last for 55 years
The panel starred actor Tina O'Brien, writer Debbie Oates, producer Stuart Blackburn and ITV's Creative Director of Serial Dramas John Whiston. The session was chaired by former ITV Director of Entertainment and Comedy Paul Jackson.
What is the secret of producing a show like Coronation Street year after year, leaving audiences waiting for more, filling endless columns of news print, staying fresh and winning countless awards?
The answer? Meticulous planning.