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Thursday 15 January 2015

Is it time for Corrie to have another female Producer?

With thanks to Wikipedia, I know that Coronation Street has had 33 Producers since it began in 1960. Of those 33 Producers,only eight have been women, as follows:

Margaret Morris (1963-4)
June Howson (1970)
Susi Hush (1974-6)
Pauline Shaw (1982)
Carolyn Reynolds (1992-4)
Sue Pritchard (1994-7)
Jane McNaught (1999-2002)
Kim Crowther, pictured above (2008-2010)

Now then, I don't know anything about television production and so I'm asking you, Corrie fans and those in the know, if you think having a female Producer at the helm of our favourite telly show makes it a better show to watch?  Does it make any difference? 

The only female Producer I know a little about is Susi Hush, who tried to, according to her obituary in The Independent "imbue the narrative with gritty, controversial social realism". She was also the Producer who took the women of the Street away from Weatherfield to Majorca on their jollies.

I guess that any Producer of any TV show, but especially soap, needs to press the right buttons to win the awards. By that I mean they need a sexy female, a hunky male, a best exit, a best storyline, the best special effects - all that kind of thing on which the world of TV and soap awards now turn, whether we like it or not. And whether the Producer is a woman or a man makes no difference, here. Awards are there to be won. 

However, the awards for the things, that I as a Corrie fan, would value wouldn't make entertaining viewing for the nation. So, there's no award for Best Eyebrow Raised in a Knowing Way. And no award for Over the Shoulder Look of Terror When Hugging Someone While Facing The Camera. And no award for Quiet Moment with Soft Line of Dialogue that Makes Your Heart Melt.

But where, I wonder, a woman might be able to make a difference - and here I'm willing to be argued with because I truly want to know what you all think - is in Corrie's portrayal of emotionally strong women. Corrie's very foundation of strong, feisty women is now on shaky ground and has been for some time.  We've got Manic Mary, Toxic Tracy, Missing-in-action Emily, moaning minny Anna with her spatula of spite. an assortment of young 'uns with nothing more to do than flick their hair and flutter their eyelashes.  

On the plus side, there are the women I'm enjoying watching. I like watching Carla and Tracy but have no empathy for either. I adore Izzy, Sally, Liz, the much-missed Deirdre, Eileen, Gail, Audrey, Julie, Yasmeen but feel ambivalent at best about the rest - the ones with the boobs and the shiny shampoo-ad hair.

I'm aware that I haven't made a good point very well here. Female producers might not make a difference. We might just need a capable captain, of any gender, to steer the portrayal of the Street's women, perhaps back to Majorca. Or even Blackpool. Or even just to a girls' night out. 

But one thing's for certain.  We do need Corrie's strong women back in the spotlight - and by that I don't mean yet another Tracy / Carla cat-fight. 

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Anonymous said...

I think Steph and Eva are both shaping up as tough Corrie women - - and how could you forget Leanne?

Llifon said...

Over on Emmerdale, Kate Oates has been praised for her work. Probs she'll be the next Corrie boss. But Susan Bower, who produced Neighbours, has been labelled the worst in the show's history.

I have to say I liked Kim Crowther's tenure as she gave the oldies very strong stories.

Anonymous said...

I liked this post very much - thank you! I also think, from the chronology you present, that for balance alone a woman should be up to bat soon.

Anonymous said...

As much as the feminist in me would like to see a woman in that job, I think the person's sex, or gender identification, is not as important as their understanding and respect for the show's history, and (dare I use the word?) -milieu? In my opinion, Corrie was such a success, from its beginning, because Tony Warren knew whereof he spoke. He grew up among the sort of people he wrote about. He had a keen ear and eye for the northern working class sensibilities surrounding him and he infused his characters with that with which he was familiar. Any producer who forgets that does so at their peril.
Ratings, awards, demographics, and the like are all unfortunate pressures which cannot be ignored, but they must remain byproducts of good stories, told well, with a strong sense of the past, and a respect for the loyal viewers, who, like old friends, have a nostalgia for their shared history. Times change, customs change, attitudes change, but human nature doesn't shift very far or fast, and that's what the show has always captured. Straying from that is a dangerous mistake, whoever's in charge.

Humpty Dumpty said...

As viewers, we sometimes underestimate the influence of the advertisers. The Corrie actors who, imo, are rubbish seem to be kept on because they're glossy and understand how to work social media. If these 'celebrities' are popular, goes the PR thinking, they will attract viewers to Corrie through their Twitter accounts and potential consumers to the advertised products. Today's soap producers didn't learn their craft on 'Play for Today' but on other soap-like shows. It probably wouldn't matter what gender or anything else future producers are.

Tvor said...

Very good post. I think we still do have a handful of strong women and yes, we need better stories for them. My favourites in the strong woman category are Carla, Sally, Eileen, Gail, Audrey, Liz, Deirdre, Julie and Yasmeen and yes, leanne. She's good if she's given a good story. Anna might have made the cut but she's too volatile.

BarrieT said...

None of the female producers did very well. Carolyn reynolds was probably the best. During her tenure ratings actually increased. Susi hush tried to concentrate on issues that seemed too harsh for the gentle plots that had come before. Jane macnaught made headlines every other week with plots that were made especially to hit the headlines. This included sarah-lous teenage pregnancy and toyah's rape. Several long term script writers quit. Ratings went so low during her time 15 million to 13 million and declined for the 3 years before she was asked to leave. Kim Crowthers era from memory seemed to be a bit inconsistant with storylines dragging out for months, like kevin and mollys affair.

David said...

Disagree with the above. The only really weak one there is Kim Crowther.

The old 'Susi Hush concentrated on social issues' line is a myth.

Anonymous said...

Interesting points. Perhaps it is time for a new female producer. I think the problem is with the writing in general, though. The strong Corrie women are still there. It's just difficult to care about most of them.

My favourites are Carla, Sally and Deirdre.

For me, Carla is in the mold of Elsie Tanner. Strong, fierce but vulnerable and compassionate. Her unlikely but touching friendship with Royston is where Corrie excels and succeeds where other soaps (and I do watch them) cannot.

Snobby Sally cracks me up. She used to be one of my least favourite characters but since she's been with Tim, she's really shone. To be fair, the writing for them has been great.

Deirdre has taken over from Blanche. I have literally sat there crying with laughter at some of her one-liners. Particularly the one about Tyrone not being the same since 'her with the hair kept hitting him with the hoover nozzle' - or something like that!

Also, Eva reminds me of Raquel a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Llifon, why were Susan Bower the worst producer ever?

Ziggy said...

Anonymous @21:25 you said it perfectly. I couldn't agree with you more.


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