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Wednesday 23 November 2011

Coronation Street Blog Exclusive: Bringing it Back to The Street

In October 2011, the London Screenwriters' Festival was held.

Coronation Street fan and writer "Our Kelly" was there and has very kindly sent us this exclusive report from the festival. 

Corrie writer Damon Rochefort was speaking at the event and this is blogger "Our Kelly"'s exclusive report from Damon's session, exclusively for us here at the Coronation Street Blog. Did I mention it was exclusive?

"Last month, as a delegate at the London Screenwriters’ Festival, I got the chance to hear Coronation Street writer Damon Rochefort speak at a lively and informative session on “Writing Soaps.” As well as giving a valuable insight into how Coronation Street is created, Damon also shared some of his own experiences as a writer. Unlike many other soaps Corrie doesn’t employ a lead/main writer and Damon spoke of a democratic and collaborative approach to creating the show. Coronation Street’s writers are expected to bring their own unique voice to an episode, whilst maintaining the overall tone of the show.

Central to the process of creating Corrie is “conference”. Conference is a regular meeting at Granada, where Corrie’s team of fifteen writers pitch story ideas that will form the basis of future episodes, which will air around four months later. Once conference is over, a team of storyliners immediately set to work, mapping out the story pitches from conference into a three-week block of episodes before assigning these episodes to particular writers. Writers are given eight days to complete the first of several drafts of the script and each writer will generally be writing four different episodes of the show at the same time, each one at a different stage of development.

The process of development mainly involves checking scripts for continuity. However writers are given other notes and prompts for future drafts. One writer was told to change what was on the menu at Number Eight as “Gail wouldn’t roast a chicken midweek!” Key to the show’s longevity and success lie in its authenticity and commitment to its working class roots. Writers are reminded that whatever story they are working on they must, at all times: “Bring it back to the Street.”

Damon spoke of his own journey as a writer. He worked as a music journalist on publications such as Smash Hits before having success in the pop world himself as part of the Nineties dance act Nomad. Deciding to move into screenwriting, he attended an Arvon Foundation course where he met, and was subsequently mentored by, comedy writers Marks and Gran for whom he went on to write episodes of the hit show Birds of a Feather. But the show Damon had set his heart on writing for was Corrie. He wrote a trial episode, which was initially rejected but luckily for Corrie fans he persisted, writing further trial episodes before being taken on as a writer.

Throughout the talk, Damon’s enthusiasm and love for the show was palpable. At the end I joined a long line of Corrie devotees and potential soap writers of the future all waiting to speak to Damon. When I got to the front of the queue, I must admit to getting a little starstruck. I mumbled that Corrie was the only show I really wanted to write for. He grinned and said that was exactly how he felt about the show, too.

Our Kelly

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