Thursday 20 July 2017

'You can't please all the people all of the time' - Fair City series consultant on year-long Katy kidnap storyline

Fair City: Katy is discovered on the street
Fair City: Katy is discovered on the street
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Fair City's series consultant has revealed that the Katy kidnapping storyline ran for over a year in order to do justice to the subject matter.

Katy, played by Amilia Stewart, was held in a box for 13 months on the hit RTE soap before she made her dramatic escape last week.

"I think with that one we really strongly felt we wanted to pay homage to the fact that people do go missing for a long time, and we wanted to look at what that would do to a community like Carrigstown," said series consultant Sam Atwell.

The Aussie native starred in Home and Away as Kane Phillips before becoming a director.

Sam Atwell, Series Consultant on RTE soap Fair City
Sam Atwell, Series Consultant on RTE soap Fair City

He moved to Ireland and was drafted in to direct several episodes of Fair City before becoming series consultant.

Atwell (38) works with story editors and a team of writers to outline plots for the soap 18 months in advance.

With the Katy storyline there were several plots revolving around the core kidnapping.

"There was that really interesting period where people didn't know where Katy was and then they found out where she was," said Atwell.

"Then they found out [the kidnapper] was Ciaran, but of course none of the characters knew until the end.

"So we did work out a timeline and we tried to build those stories around it."

Sleepless nights for Katy in Fair City. L-R Tommy - Geoff Minogue Rose - Geraldine Plunkett Debbie - Niamh Daly Rose - Geraldine Plunkett Garda - Lena Marie Fitzgerald Katy - Amilia CLarke Stewart Eoghan - Alan Howley
Sleepless nights for Katy in Fair City. L-R Tommy - Geoff Minogue Rose - Geraldine Plunkett Debbie - Niamh Daly Rose - Geraldine Plunkett Garda - Lena Marie Fitzgerald Katy - Amilia CLarke Stewart Eoghan - Alan Howley

The storyline, which is still ongoing as Katy adjusts to life at home, prompted a huge reaction on social media, as viewers and the media continually speculated on when she would make her escape.

It even prompted a petition calling for her release.

Ciaran (Johnny Ward) and Katy (Amilia Clarke Stewart ) say one final and bitter farewell in last night’s episode of ‘Fair City’
Ciaran (Johnny Ward) and Katy (Amilia Clarke Stewart ) say one final and bitter farewell in last night’s episode of ‘Fair City’

"We write the show for the audience - if there wasn't an audience we wouldn't have a show, so I think we do try to please as many people as we can," said Atwell.

"But you can't please all the people all of the time.

Ciaran and Katy in Fair City
Ciaran and Katy in Fair City

"The thing with television is that it has almost become like theatre. The difference with theatre is you can hear the clapping or laughing or booing, and now with Twitter and Facebook you can hear it too.

"I think for me at least it means people are watching and engaging and I hope we can give those people a storyline they do hopefully enjoy.

"Certainly I do understand when there's an episode and people have problems with it and they might complain about it but then when they're asked if they tuned in the next night they say: 'Yes, of course, I had to find out what's happening!'

"I think if you challenge the audience sometimes it's a good thing but as well as that we don't want them to turn off."

Speaking to the Herald before Katy was freed after 372 days, Amilia said she missed her plywood box.

"I really, really miss doing the scenes in that box," she said.

"The first week I got out and I was in the apartment [and filming] I found it so difficult to be working with other characters.

"I found it really difficult to jump back into that because I was so used to working only with Johnny [Ward, who plays Ciaran]."

The story became the ultimate water-cooler conversation starter, as viewers wondered just how long Ciaran could keep Katy captive.

Amilia said she had no idea the storyline would play out for more than a year.

Read more: Kidnapped Katy is finally reunited with her family on Fair City but it's not a smooth transition

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