As fans, we all think we know what is right and indeed, what is wrong with our favourite programme, Coronation Street. However it is very easy for us to be armchair critics, as we have no real power and feel no real pressure. I am sure that from time to time we've all thought we could do a better job than the producer in charge. It is very easy to criticise, but is the role of Coronation Street producer really a dream job? As the current incumbent, Phil Collinson, has announced his decision to move on in the new year, let's take a look at some of the more high profile Coronation Street producers of the past 52 years. I will try to be as even-handed as I can!
Tim Aspinall (1964)
Although only serving as producer for several months in 1964, he is often dubbed the first "axe-man" of Coronation Street. He is most famous for axing a whole host of characters during his time in charge, with the exit of Martha Longhurst (played by Lynne Carol), the most hotly contested of all. Many of the actors were strongly opposed to this move, with Violet Carson the most vociferous. However, it must also be remembered that it was Aspinall who introduced the Ogden family, surely one of the most popular families ever to grace Corrie. The popularity of Stan and Hilda endures to this day.
Bill Podmore (1976-82; 87-88)
For many the late 1970s and early 1980s were the golden years for the Street, and in many ways this was down to Bill Podmore. Podmore was always keen to maintain a strong element of comedy which always worked well when combined with more dramatic storylines. Who can forget Stan and Hilda's second honeymoon, Hilda's famous "muriel" and the Rovers dream team of Annie, Bet, Betty and Fred? However, Podmore was responsible for the occasional unpopular decision, such as the shock exits of both Ernest Bishop and Renee Roberts, as well as actor Peter Adamson's departure from the show.
Brian Park (1997-1998)
Surely one of the most (in)famous Coronation Street producers ever. Like him or loathe him, he certainly reinvigorated the Street when he took the helm in the late 1990s. Park was criticised a great deal at the time for axing long-term characters such as Derek Wilton, Andy McDonald and Don Brennan. However he did give us the wonderful storyline which saw Deirdre go to jail after falling for conman, John Lindsay. Brian Park also introduced two characters who remain favourites, Hayley and Leanne.
Jane MacNaught (2000-2002)
My two main memories of Coronation Street during Jane MacNaught's reign are both fairly negative unfortunately! Both Toyah Battersby's rape and Alma Halliwell's death following a battle with cervical cancer did not sit well with this particular Corrie viewer. Although both stories produced fine performances from all involved, they definitely moved the show further into the ratings battle and more issue-driven storylines. On the plus side, MacNaught did give us the wonderful Karen McDonald, who I would certainly love to see back one day!
Phil Collinson (2010-2013)
Without a doubt, the main event during Collinson's reign was the 50th Anniversary, culminating in the Tram Crash. Phil should take a lot of credit for helping to bring this huge television event to fruition. The 50th Anniversary week was incredible, with the live episode a masterstroke. It really did show Coronation Street at it's best and proved how good everyone involved could be.
Bringing Dennis Tanner (as portrayed by the wonderful Philip Lowrie) back after over 40 years was a great move. Partnering him with Rita was inspired, and it was super to have another Mrs Tanner in the Street after so long, especially given Rita and Elsie's long history.
The low point for me has to be the re-writing of Coronation Street history, involving Annie Walker's decision to leave the Rovers to Betty when she died. We all knew this was going against the history of the show, so why didn't the production team? One of the glories of the Street is its long illustrious history and this should never be messed with!
In my view the cast continues to be far too big, with some characters appearing in every scene while others languish in the Corrie cupboard forever. Also, the introduction of Stella Price, or St Ella as she is known around these parts. Still doesn't work. End of.
So what are your thoughts on Coronation Street producers, both past and present? Which decisions did you applaud and which made you want to fling yourself off the viaduct in despair? And most importantly, if you were appointed Coronation Street producer, what would be your first decision when you took the hot seat??
Follow the Coronation Street Blog on Twitter and Facebook