Sunday 17 November 2019

Corrie not planning more big stunts

Tracy Barlow, played by Kate Ford, is involved in the latest big Coronation Street storyline (ITV/PA)
Tracy Barlow, played by Kate Ford, is involved in the latest big Coronation Street storyline (ITV/PA)

Coronation Street executive producer Stuart Blackburn said he is not planning any more big stunts this year after the Victoria Court fire because having too many lessens their impact on viewers.

In the coming week, fans of the ITV soap will see a fire rage through the street's flats in a storyline involving Tracy Barlow and will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see whether all of the characters make it out alive.

Blackburn said: "There have been two spectacles this year - the minibus crash and this. Now nothing's written in stone, we haven't had our scripts, but I wouldn't imagine doing another one this side of Christmas.

"It would have to be a very special story that proved its worth because I think they lose their currency and essentially the show is about characters, it's about the lives and loves of northern working class families."

Talking about the fire scenes, which were set up by company Real SFX who worked on the soap's tram crash and Rovers fire storylines, he said: "It's a much bigger deal than we ever imagined, it just grew and grew and grew.

"Really, my job's the easiest bit. I said I wanted to blow up Victoria Court and people started coming up with ideas. I'd look at the scripts and go, 'More' and they'd give me more. I'd just sit back and say, 'More, more, more, more'."

The producer also talked about recent cast changes, which have included signing up ex-Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding and former X Factor winner Shayne Ward.

He admitted: "Of course it's tricky because you want to get the publicity, but you want to get it for the right reasons. Sarah Harding was in Freefall for the BBC and was magnificent in it. I think she'd describe herself yes, as a singer, but as an actor now.

"Shayne Ward's been in the West End for 10 years, so I think he's earned himself the right to call himself an actor. When we did the auditions, I'm sure Shayne won't mind me saying, it wasn't cynicism, but I was nervous.

"I said, 'Ok, I'll see him', but there's a big difference between a TV actor and a West End actor who's in musicals. But he just blew us away, he's got that swagger, that Manc lad that makes you think back to Liam Connor. He's just got it and I was pleasantly amazed. It was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made."

The cast are in for a sad time in the coming months, when they will say an on-screen goodbye to Deirdre Barlow, played by show stalwart Anne Kirkbride who died in January.

Asked what putting together the funeral storyline was like, Blackburn said: "Just layers and layers of horrible for so many reasons. Obviously on screen it's going to be about the fictional character Deirdre Barlow, it's not about Annie. But because we all loved Annie so much, she was never far from our thoughts.

"It's so sad to be saying goodbye to Deirdre, but those episodes are as funny as they are sad. It's driving the story forward. The minute I got those scripts I was just so relieved, they're perfect. I'm absolutely proud of them and pretty sure Annie would have loved it as well."

PA Media

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