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Wednesday 16 October 2013

How Script Conferences Work

Interior - Coronation Street writer's meeting at Granada Studios.  It's seven o'clock Monday morning, and Stuart Blackburn, the Street's much feared producer, is knocking the forthcoming storylines into shape.

STUART: we're all agreed: we'll save the alien invasion plot for Christmas 2014, yes?

The other writers murmur their agreement.

STUART: Now.  As we all know, I'm bringing Beverley Callard back to run the Rovers.  This is because she's a great actress, and has nothing to do with the fact that even setting Stella on fire couldn't make the public love her.  We therefore have to do some moving of characters to set up her arrival.  Any thoughts?

WRITER 1: Why would Liz want to buy the Rovers again?  Isn't she happy in Spain?

WRITER 2: Yes, but she's stuck out there with Andy.  Shall we just say she got sick of looking at his miserable face?

STUART: No, we might need him to make a return guest appearance with unflattering facial hair at a future wedding of Steve's.  Best to keep him on side.  Let's just say that Steve wants to buy it, so he gets Liz back to help him out with the finances?

WRITER 3: Isn't Liz really short of cash?  Isn't that why Jim tried to rob a bank for her in the first place?

STUART: No problem - nila problema.  We'll just throw in a line like "Oh, yes, I got a load of money working in a spa and eventually bought into it and now I'm rich, what a palaver."

WRITER 1: But why would Steve want to buy the Rovers?  Wasn't it the scene of his last failed marriage?  Isn't it filled with unhappy memories?

STUART:  Hmm, good point.  Maybe Michelle wants to go back to working there?

WRITER 1: Why would Michelle want to work there now she's a highly valued member of the Underworld team and a top businesswoman?

All the writers laugh at the audacity of their plotting.  Michelle!  A top businesswoman!

STUART: Let's be honest; no-one really believed that.  Maybe she just missed the smell of the pumps?

WRITER 2: Carla could fire her.

WRITER 4: Seems a bit cruel.  She's the closest thing Carla has to a sister.  She's certainly a more interesting family member than Rob.

WRITER 2: Ah, but if Carla has to choose between Peter and Michelle....

STUART: That's great.  We'll use it.  So on Monday, Michelle loses her job at Underworld.  Cue break for EastEnders.  Then in the second episode, Steve buys the Rovers for her.

WRITER 3: No, wait.  We need to remind everyone that she's actually a very good barmaid.  

WRITER 1: Stella could offer her a job.

WRITER 4: Won't that make the Rovers ludicrously overstaffed?

The writers all laugh again, confident that a small boozer in a Manchester backstreet needs at least five members of staff.

WRITER 2: Seriously.  Stella could offer her a job.  I know they've barely talked in all the time Michelle Collins has been on the show, but I'm sure Stella would be happy to offer her a spot behind the bar.  Even though she's not actually aware that Michelle used to be a barmaid, because she's worked with Carla the whole time.

STUART: So.  Second Monday episode.  Michelle's behind the bar.  Little bit of angst, little bit of woe is me, Steve misinterprets it, buys the pub.  End credits.  Marvellous.

WRITER 3: Wait!  What about Ryan?

STUART: We've already sacked him.

WRITER 3: Yes, but we haven't written him out yet.  If Michelle and Steve own a pub then he's got a job for life behind the bar.  Why would he leave that?

STUART: Good point, Writer 3 -

WRITER 3: Jonathan.

STUART: I don't care.  So.  Wednesday's episode.  Steve still hasn't bought the pub.  Michelle tells Ryan he needs to get a job, Ryan says, "oh, that's lucky, I have a friend abroad who can offer me a job that will last forever so I'll never need to come back," and he's gone before eight o'clock.  Sorted.

WRITER 3: Genius.

STUART: I know.  That's Wednesday's episode sorted.  Friday, first episode, Steve buys the pub.

WRITER 2: Where's Stella and Gloria and Eva going to live?

WRITER 1: Well, they're desperate to get as far away from the pub as they can so they can put the agony of the fire and Karl's betrayal behind them.  So Kevin's house at the opposite end of the Street should be fine.  He's coming back soon, as well, so we'll have a good excuse to kick them all out.

WRITER 2: Who's going to do Michelle's job at Underworld?

WRITER 1: Eva.  She's got as much experience as Michelle had.

STUART: It's missing something.  Michelle needs a family member to spark off, someone she can complain about Steve to.  Not Ryan, obviously, because he's awful.

WRITER 4: Perhaps we could bring back her real son?


WRITER 4: Never mind.

STUART: Let's bring back her Dad.  He was good fun.  Not the mother though, because she was really annoying.  And let's make her Dad a bit of a drunk, a bit of a waster, a bit of a lazy old man.  A really fun Irish stereotype.  Let's have him awkward around Marcus's new sexuality.  Let's have him say begorrah.  Maybe he could do some Riverdancing on the bar of the Rovers.

WRITER 4: Could I just throw something in here Stuart?

STUART: Feel free.  Muto libre.

WRITER 4: I just think that making Daddy Connor the most Irish person in the world may be a little... offensive.

The other writers shift uncomfortably.

STUART: Right.  You're fired.  Don't talk to the press if you like having kneecaps.

Writer 4 leaves.

STUART: So it's Friday.  We've got Michelle out of the factory and behind the bar.  Steve has obtained a mortgage, negotiated repayments, obtained a licence from the local council and had a new sign printed up for above the door.  Ryan's off somewhere else - I don't really care where - and Paddy O'Gimcrack has moved in with them all.  So Friday, Steve announces that he's now bought the pub and everyone's happy.

WRITER 3: What about Liz?

STUART: Oh yes.  There's some kind of altercation in the bar - Kylie and Tina perhaps; the Star loves it when the pretty girls get into a catfight.  And Liz comes in and breaks it up.  End of first Friday episode.

WRITER 2: Wait.  I've got a GENIUS idea.

WRITER 1: Is it as good as your one about giving Sean his own chat show?  Because that was brilliant.

WRITER 2: How about we introduce Liz with a bit of mystery?  Say, an elegant high heeled shoe stepping out of a black cab?

They all gasp.  Stuart shakes his head admiringly.

STUART: See?  Now that's why we pay you guys the big bucks.  Totally original, never been seen before ideas like that.  We're amazing.  Give yourselves a round of applause!

They all clap, except for Writer 3, who looks pensive.

STUART: Why aren't you clapping, Writer 3?

WRITER 3: I don't know.  I was just thinking.  All these sudden moves.  These quick purchases of highly valued properties.  These characters having a major change of heart for no apparent reason.  Aren't you worried the viewers will think it's all a bit contrived?

STUART: No.  We professionals notice.  Joe Public never clocks a damn thing.

They break open the cocktail cabinet.


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Anonymous said...


Bezza said...

Absolutly brilliant and very plausable

Anonymous said...

Once again, this blog made my day! Thanks for a hilarious post Scott!
Rebecca in TO

Ping Pong Poo said...

Great stuff Scott, I thought exactly the same thing about the Prices, cant stand being in the Rovers another minute but move just a stone;s throw away where they also lived with Karl and drink where - yes the Rovers! How about a script for the Platt debacle as well, thanks!

Shan said...

Hilarious. Now all my questions have been answered.

bbhilda said...

Thank you Scott, absolutely brilliant! Really enjoyed that.

ChiaGwen said...

So that's how they come up with some of these insane plots LOL! Very imaginative and wonderfully funny write-up....thanks! Agree, you should do a script for the Platt debacle.

Sunny Jim said...

Stop that right now Mr Tart, you're spoiling the magic for me. Plus, I can't stop laughing.

Unknown said...

One of the best things I've read on this blog, spot on. You covered so many things beautifully. Thanks for the laugh ~

Humpty Dumpty said...

This would be hilarious (which it is, of course!)- ok, even more hilarious then if it wasn't probably very close to the truth. What SB has never said, unfortunately, is that he will treat the viewers with respect and not assume we'll swallow any old tripe.

Anonymous said...

Haha, hilarious! This post has made my day, but as Humpty said, it is probably not far off the mark. Many thanks!

Tvor said...

Superb! Though I've always thought they had their meetings *after* breaking out the cocktails!

vicky said...

Hell yes.

Anonymous said...

great article, well done Scott :)

Anonymous said...

Paddy O'Gimcrack..LOL!! funny as hell!

John McE said...

Hilarious! But I'm surprised no-one else has mentioned that it is loosely based on Victoria Wood's "The Making of Acorn Antiques" spoof documentary (and all the funnier for it)

Anonymous said...

You 'borrowed' dome of Stuart's lines from the mocumentary about the making of Acorn Antiques didn't you. I can hear Maggie Steed saying them as if it were yesterday.

Scott Willison said...

Indeed. It's a parody of a parody of a documentary about a soap. It's so meta it actually occupies a dimension all its own.

Anonymous said...

Where I worked 8 years ago myself and a colleague used to talk like that all the time. My favourite utterance was 'right, you're fired'.

Clinkers (David) said...

Brilliant Scott! They should bring Marion Clune in immediately to oversee things. Very, very funny!

Anonymous said...

The funniest stuff is the truth.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, thanks!


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