Friday, 29 May 2015
How the fire week came about
INT. CORONATION STREET PRODUCER'S OFFICE.
Stuart Blackburn, much feared Coronation Street producer, crosses to his water cooler after a long day of script reading. He turns the tap, but instead of pure clean water, a trickle of blood pours out into his paper cup. He turns ashen, and calls to his secretary.
SB: Serena! Bolt the doors! The executives are coming!
But it's too late. His office doors swing open and he is confronted by four black-clad representatives of ITV Network Centre: Conquest, War, Death, and Ratings. Stuart cowers behind his desk.
SB: What... what do you want?
WAR: Three coffees, thank you. No sugar. And just an Evian for Conquest: she's on the paleo.
CONQUEST: I've got a christening in August, and I'm a bit hippy for the pictures.
DEATH: We're here to discuss BGT week.
Stuart slowly rises up and sits in his chair.
SB: Oh. That's fine. We've sorted out a big event for that week. Steve and Michelle's wedding.
The Executives wince.
SB: And... Liz will realise that her relationship is a sham. She'll have a huge breakdown. It'll be very touching.
SB: And... people will enjoy it. It's a much loved character finding happiness after a year of depression. It's heartwarming.
CONQUEST: Yes, calm yourself Ratings. Stuart, dear, I don't think you've quite grasped the significance of Britain's Got Talent week. This is Britain's Got Talent: the United Kingdom's finest hunt for talking dogs and Eastern European gymnast acts. It's a huge hit for us, and we can't have Coronation Street sandwiched inbetween the main show and the results being "heartwarming" and "life-affirming" and "happy". No-one wants to see that.
WAR: I mean, what will we put in the trailers? A kiss? I know I wouldn't tune in to that.
WAR: Can't you blow something up? Blowing something up always looks good in the trailers. People like explosions. Look at the Transformers films.
DEATH: I do like those films.
SB: We've already written the scripts, though.
WAR: Scripts can be revised. Writing is easy. Death's a writer. He does Midsomer Murders fan fiction online.
DEATH: Barnaby and Nelson are lovers.
SB: It's all been planned. And the budgets have been allocated.
CONQUEST: Stop coming up with barriers. Barriers are just there to be vaulted. I have that on a poster in my office. You just need to reallocate the money. You have the wedding on Monday and Tuesday, then we blow things up Wednesday through Friday.
SB: We've only just opened this set, and you want us to blow it up.
WAR: Sets are made to be destroyed, Stuart. That's why they're made out of plywood. Blow up an unimportant corner of it.
DEATH: Those flats. They've never really fit in. Blow them up.
Stuart begins scribbling notes through his anguished tears.
SB: I suppose we could burn down Victoria Court. I'm not sure why. If Steve and Michelle have their wedding in the pub, we could save on location costs.
CONQUEST: You'll have to cut down on guest stars. Andy and Ryan can go.
SB: They're close family members to the bride and groom. They have to be there.
CONQUEST: Rubbish. Ryan was hopeless when he was in it, so no-one will miss him. And Andy hasn't been in it for ages. No-one will remember him.
SB: He's providing the honeymoon.
DEATH: You can cover it with dialogue. Remember: "Tell, don't show."
CONQUEST: You're so good at this writing stuff.
WAR: A good explosion. The roof can collapse. Fireballs on the trailers. Bits of wall falling into the street.
CONQUEST: Are you aroused?
WAR: A little.
CONQUEST: Me too. But we need more. Carla. Carla is ratings gold. She's trapped and needs help.
Stuart pulls a pained face.
SB: Does it have to be Carla? Ali King's unhappy. She says she's an actress, not a crash test dummy. She's only just forgiven us for dangling her over the edge of a cliff in a minibus.
DEATH: Pfft. Actresses. They're just meat puppets. What's she going to do? Leave?
CONQUEST: Put the lesbians in there as well.
SB: Sophie and Maddie? Why?
CONQUEST: They're massive on Tumblr. Teenage girls love them.
SB: I'll need more money for casting.
SB: We're blowing up a block of flats. All those extras.
Death shakes his head.
DEATH: You don't need extras. Let me tell you something, Stuart: no-one tunes in to watch extras. Extras do not make valuable trailer moments. We can't say, "do tune in, we'll have forty people standing around in dressing gowns."
DEATH: No, take the money you would have spent on extras and spend it on explosions. You could probably get an extra three gas jets for that money.
CONQUEST: In fact, cut out the cast members you need as well.
SB: Nick lives in Victoria Court. With Bethany and Sarah-Lou. Obviously they'll have to be there.
CONQUEST: No. Send him to Birmingham. And have the girls stay with their nan. Problem solved. We should be concentrating on Carla, not getting distracted with side characters.
SB: The Tilsleys have been in the programme for forty years. They're hardly side characters.
WAR: Forty years? Really? Has the programme been going that long? Blimey.
DEATH: Don't ask me, I used to work at the Post Office.
CONQUEST: I think my nan used to watch it. I didn't really watch tv growing up.
WAR: So that's settled then? Get this stupid character filled wedding out the way, blow some stuff up, and put Carla Connor in peril. Ratings gold. Absolutely no-one will turn over to Panorama on BBC One while that's happening.
The Executives get up to leave.
DEATH: Oh, and one more thing. Kill someone.
SB: No problem. Jimi Mistry's just handed in his notice.
WAR: Him off Strictly.
CONQUEST: Oh, I love Strictly.
Stuart Blackburn sobs.
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