Monday, 19 November 2012

The ups and downs of being a Corrie producer


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??


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22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also didn't like the way Collinson gave personality transplants to just about every character on the show..esp Sunita turning into a douche-bag extraordinaire! The destruction of Rosie and Kevin's character and the dumbing down of Gail and Steve (as if he could get any stupider).

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. When he leaves, couldn't he take Tracy with him?

Humpty Dumpty said...

One of the biggest mistakes was bringing Tracy back. Not only does this flout the soap code of just desserts, but the apparent legal technicalities were daft and not followed through. We've noted before the characters who are past their sell-by and I hope the new producer brings a more measured approach to the show.

Be realistic without being sensationalist; develop issues slowly within storylines; use humour and tragedy in the same story, and don't let some characters do all the comedy (eg Kirk); don't bring in new characters on the basis of their looks if they don't have the acting skills (eg too many to mention!)... I could go on!

Graeme N said...


I agree with you! And I secretly would like you to mention them! :)

Sunny Jim said...

It's easy to knock Brian Park for killing off Derek but the decision to axe the tediously dull and well past his sell-by date stationery salesman had been made before he took over.

ChiaGwen said...

On the producer throne I would immediately have Tracy's technical glitch release from prison recinded and throw her back in. Ken would open up a small book store with Diedre firing up some pottery to sell along with the dusty old books. Mad Maya would reappear, finish off Sunita - then Amber (but the original one) would come back to help Dev with the stores and kids. Sophie decides to become a nun and leaves for the Convent never to return. Karen returns, Michelle and replacement son leave to live in Ireland. Shelly Unwin returns to run the Rovers and St. Ella decides to go and run a pub in Spain with Gloria. Spider Nugent and Toyah return and live with Emily - Norris has to live with Mary in her motorhome. Paul has a toaster accident and all are saddened (well maybe just Eileen). Rita and Dennis buy back the Kabin from Norris and have more screen time. Lewis stays and he and Audrey live happily ever after. Hillman's twin brother comes to the cobbles to terrorize Gail so much so that she is unable to clean the Bistro EVER again! Eddie Windass returns, Anna tells Owen to take a hike. Gary and Izzy adopt Ruby as Tyrone discovers he is not the father. Kirsty is admitted to an insane asylum. Tyrone moves in with Fiz and together they raise Hope while waiting for the birth of their child together. I could go on and on but I don't have time and I know none of this will happen anyway.....nice to dream.

Graeme N said...


Very true! And I have to say I never really liked Derek at all! Shame Thelma Barlow didnt stay on though as I loved her!

Flaming Nora said...

Graeme, this got a RT on twitter from @itvmedia - haha!!!!!

Anonymous said...

ChiaGwen, I am with you all the way!

Graeme N said...


Oh really?! Well I am honoured! Let's hope they start listening to me more often ;)

Anonymous said...

How on earth can you do an article about the foremost past Corrie producers and not mention the monumental HV Kershaw?

Graeme N said...


Well Anonymous, it wasn't an exhaustive list...perhaps Kershaw deserves a blog all to himself? What do you think?

Tvor said...

Brian Park... The Cult of Nirab. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I don't do twitter -- what's an RT?

I like one of Chia Gwen's ideas: "Ken would open up a small book store with Diedre firing up some pottery to sell along with the dusty old books."

Definitely Tracy must go!!! I find my eyes glaze over and attention wanders whenever Stella, Eva, Rob, Sophie, and Tommy appear. They either need to be given decent stories to act, or clean up their acting skills. Also agree that Collinson really hurt the show with all the personality transplants and distortion of history. I did like the 50th Anniversary, but it's more to do with the cast and crew, and doesn't balance the slate for what he's ruined.

njblas said...

Love your storyline ideas ChiaGwen - they sound a lot more palatable than most of the drivel we've had to endure under the helm of Mr Collinson:)

Graeme N said...


Haha the Cult of Nirab!! That brings back memories! Who knew little Zoe whatshername would go on to Downton Abbey!

Graeme N said...


RT is a re-tweet on Twitter - when someone likes something they've read and sends it round to everyone who follows them. Get me all technical!

Anonymous said...

HV Kershaw does deserve a blog post all to himself - in part, to redress the image created of him in "The Road to Coronation Street". This page has a good profile:

http://coronationstreet.wikia.com/wiki/H.V._Kershaw

Graeme N said...


Thanks for the link! Did you not enjoy The Road to Coronation Street?

Beth said...

Chia Gwen. I loved all your ideas.... please submit them to the show :)

Beth

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see what the New Year brings for Marcus Dent, who has one of the most boring and oddest story-lines on the Street. What the heck is a sonographer?

Anonymous said...

Nothing interesting ever happens to Marcus Dent, he has appeared less than a dozen times this year, mostly minor cameos. Condou has done nothing to develop the character and the script writers also seem to have had enough of the character. Marcus may be gay but he is the least colourful individual on the street with all the charisma of a bank clerk.

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