Terry Dyddgen-Jones has been directing episodes of Corrie on and off since 1997 and I was very happy when he agreed to have an e-mail interview with me after I'd asked him on Twitter. As we're both Welshmen, I couldn't miss the chance of interviewing him about his role on my favourite show!
For information about the episodes that Terry has directed, you can have a look at a page about him on Corriepedia.
Before discussing your links with Corrie, tell us a bit about your history in the telly world generally. You have been directing in many soap operas haven’t you?
Along with my 230+ episodes of Corrie, I have directed EastEnders, Emmerdale, Pobol y Cwm (as Executive Producer) and latterly Hollyoaks. I have also directed Heartbeat, Facing Demons for the BBC and a film, Bydd yn Wrol (Be Brave) with Daniel Evans and Matthew Rhys.
You have been directing episodes of Corrie on and off since 1997. You joined the show when it was going through some big changes on and off-screen. What are your memories of those early days?
Working with Brian Park, who went on to create Bad Girls and Footballer's Wives. He was the first of a new breed of producers who refreshed and invigorated the series. He was a risk taker who created the character of Hayley.
You have directed some of the most iconic scenes of the show over the last 18 years. These include Sally slapping Natalie Horrocks (1997), Des Barnes getting attacked (1998), Rita in court (2004) and more recently Gail throwing a cake in Deirdre’s face (2010). How did it feel directing these scenes?
The death of Des Barnes attracted 19.4 million viewers. It was a great TV moment although the Network asked for changes to the scene where Des fell on the Coffee table. It was far more dynamic when it left me, however the feeling was that it was too violent for the TX slot. My memories of the Sally/Natalie slap are great ones. I wanted Natalie to fall unceremoniously amongst the vegetables. When you slow-mo the scene you can see Sally close her eyes before the moment of impact. Sally worried about the impact of the scene on the audience but she went for it as the consummate professional she is.
Gail throwing the cake at Deirdre was the idea of the producer Phil Collinson. Nick should have been in the scene but had been taken ill at lunchtime. He was hastily written out. He is in the previous scene.
Talking about Deirdre, I’m sure you directed the late Anne Kirkbride many times. What kind of person was she and was she like Deirdre?
Annie Kirkbride was a legend. She was warm funny fallible and very human. She had a problem with my name and we had a private joke for years as she would call me the three Welsh directors Terry Doug and Joan.
To see a wonderful interview with Terry about Anne Kirkbride, click here.
One of the episodes you directed was Ashley and Claire’s wedding that was broadcast on Christmas Day 2004. What were the steps you had to take to create that Christmassy scene?
The Claire and Ashley wedding was a landmark in many ways. The company Snow Business provided the snow as we recorded it at the beginning of November. One of the scenes was re shot at great expense: Claire and Ashley return in the snow to the Street. It had been cut early in the production process but was re-staged.
One of lasting episodes memory is the first date of Roy and Hayley. David Neilson and I had a long conversation about the wine for the table. Would Roy drink? Eventually we decided on the half bottle of Blue Nun which is on the table.
How does the new set compare with the new one for directing?
The new set is remarkable in that it has encapsulated the spirit of the original but has managed to be considerably wider. Two vehicles can now pass each other. It is a tribute to the programme that the old set has become such a destination in Manchester.
How does it feel to direct ‘legends’ like Bill Roache, Barbara Knox and Sue Nicholls?
Directing the legends makes you realise why they are recognised as being on top of their game. One thing that constantly surprises me is that they all wear their genius lightly. They are remarkable performers but always ready to listen. If an idea is good they will take it and make it their own.
Who are your favourite all-time characters? And is there someone that you would’ve loved to have directed?
Choosing my favourite Corrie character is a little like asking which of my children do I love the most. I love them all. As actors I am very fond of working with David Neilson (Roy), but I have also great memories of working with Vicky Entwistle (Janice Battersby). Barbara Knox (Rita) is also a great character actress, while the double act of Steve and Lloyd (Simon Gregson and Craig Charles) are a constant source of joy both on and off the screen.
I would have liked to have worked with Pat Phoenix. She is still talked about with great affection on the set. Helen Worth (who plays Gail) often talks about the legend that was Pat.
Lastly, I’m sure many ask about the origin of your surname. Even for a Welshman like me, the name ‘Dyddgen’ is an unusual one. What is its origin?
My name Terry Dyddgen-Jones was officially coined in 1974. I had been christened Terry Jones but joining equity was a problem as the Terry Jones from Monty Python had been accepted into the profession before my arrival. I almost took the name Terry Russel Jones as it was my wife's family name. At the last minute I became Dyddgen Jones as my great grandfather had used it as a bardic name. There is also an 8th century church in the village where I was born which is called Capel Dyddgen. Dyddgen was a minor Welsh saint. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. I am now legally Terry Dyddgen Jones, as traveling by Air became a nightmare at the check in desk. My children however do not carry the Dyddgen. My son Sion Russel Jones is the singer songwriter.
Thank you Terry for answering my questions. Diolch yn fawr.
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