Sunday, May 22, 2005

Behind the scenes on Coronation Street

Are journalists finally waking up to the fact that soap can be taken seriously? After Guardian TV critic Rupert Smith's script for Doctors, comes Barbara Ellen's attempt to write for Coronation Street (The Observer).

A lifelong fan, she goes behind the scenes to try and discover what makes the show tick, and takes along a few scenes she has written to show to series editor Gareth Philips.
When I got home, Philips was kind enough to ring me with a 'critique' of my scenes. Well, I say 'kind'. I ask him to be 'brutally honest' and he takes me at my word. This line is totally overheated. That line Blanche wouldn't say. This line about Audrey and hair dryers is pathetic ('If you're going to do camp, you have to be a lot sharper than that!') That line of Ken's is so weak it's a 'sackable offence' ... And so on.

Indeed, only one line (one!) passed muster (something about rain on a washing day being a shame), but overall I was guilty of 'straying too far into sitcom territory'. 'We are pedantic whiners,' says Philips. 'But I make no apologies for that.' It would seem that I was right about it being harder than it looks to write for Coronation Street (though maybe not as hard as listening to someone tell you that you're absolutely hopeless at it).
Postscript: Ellen calls the Street producer "Tony Young" throughout her article. His name is, in fact, Tony Wood.

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