Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Monday 3 January 2022

Iain MacLeod interview: Stories revealed for 2022!

Happy New Year! I hope all your Christmases were filled with food and joy, and that you enjoyed the frankly wonderful Christmas Day Corrie ep. Now, as we move into 2022, we’ve got more gossip from Corrie producer Iain MacLeod about what we can expect from the cobbles throughout the next year. Grab a cuppa and get comfy, because there’s a lot to go through! 

Emma & Faye find themselves in a nightmare

“In terms of ‘start the new year as you mean to go on’, things couldn’t really get off to a much worse start than they do for Faye and Emma. They’re out for New Year’s Eve, drowning their sorrows in one case and celebrating in another. On their way back to Weatherfield the following day, there’s a terrible, cataclysmic, life-changing event that happens. It’s certainly not their fault, but it pitches them into this total nightmare of impossible dilemmas and secrecy and cover-ups.

“I can’t imagine a more hapless person to find themselves in the middle of a catastrophe than Emma, so actually in places, it’s really funny and quirky. The bottom of it all is something will trigger a fairly seismic shift in both of their lives going into 2022. When you watch it happen, I think what you’ll feel is all the decisions they make are totally in-keeping with the decisions you or I might make. Unfortunately, when you add them all up, it just turns into a total nightmare. Suddenly when things take a turn for the worst, they realise there’s already a number of witnesses like Imran who can actually incriminate them. It’s a really interesting story. Emma and Faye are in the beginnings of a really close friendship; they’re flatmates by this point. It’s a brilliant story about challenging this new friendship.”

Abi & Imran’s secret threatens to explode

“[Abi] is somebody who is used to finding herself in a pickle, and over the course of 2022 will find herself in the Branston of all pickles, I think it’s fair to say. Another really challenging year for Abi. It will see her risk losing Kevin and Jack, it will see her pitched into a protracted legal battle where it’s kind of a David and Goliath struggle for her again to try and keep hold of her life as it ebbs away from her.

“It threatens to destroy Imran and Toyah’s relationship because at present, Toyah thinks she knows the whole truth about what went on in the aftermath of Seb’s trial, but of course, she does not. It’ll test the bounds of Toyah’s forgiveness to the max. It will force Imran to maybe do some things which will ultimately cause him to have a long, hard look in the mirror and question whether he’s the decent guy he’s always felt he was. He’s forced to go to the dark side, you might say in some instances.

“We’ve just finished storylining it and it’s big and shocking and I think it’s probably the last thing you imagine will happen at the end of all of this. It starts off quite small and domestic about secrets and romantic intrigue, and just turns into this absolutely gobsmacking cataclysm. It’s not of the huge cinematic popcorn size thing of super soap week, it’s a bit more intimate than that. The shock of it I think will just make people fall off their chairs.”

Lydia puts strain on Adam & Sarah’s marriage

“What we wanted to do with this story was kind of an updated version of a 90s thriller. You might remember all the way through the 90s there were loads of thrillers like Fatal Attraction. Looking back on them now, they look horribly dated in terms of their gender politics, so we sort of thought, what might a story of that type look like in the 21st century and I hope we cracked it.

“I think what we got is a really nuanced story where everybody is capable of behaving badly. There is no vilification of the scorned woman or anything like that, but the bottom line is Lydia will come to be quite a threat to Sarah and Adam’s marriage, or indeed perhaps more accurately, she will be the catalyst for Sarah and Adam to risk destroying their own relationship.

“Bottom line is, there’s lots of secrecy involved and scheming and incredibly intelligent subterfuge going on in the part of various parties and it does culminate in quite an exciting sequence that again I’ve just read which will be taking place at some point in the first six months of 2022. It will start small, and character led and nuanced about relationships, but then gradually becomes more and more nightmarish, particularly for Adam and Sarah as the story unfolds.”

Jacob’s return

“What appealed about him was he’s a fantastically good actor, he feels very Coronation Street. He’s got a lot of that kind of badinage that you get from your classic Corrie leading men. He’s got funny bones; he’s got a really good way with comedy. He feels very authentic as well in the way that’s perhaps sometimes when you import a ‘bad guy’ or ‘criminal’ into a show like ours.

“We also really liked the idea of the story we’re going on to tell with him, which is pairing up with someone who is historically quite well-behaved and wouldn’t say boo to a goose and is quite sensible given her genetic provenance and that’s Amy Barlow. We thought, how would Tracy and Steve react to her suddenly ending up in a romantic relationship with possibly the most unsuitable boyfriend they’ve ever heard of.

“It’s very funny as Steve and Tracy try with increasing failure to strategise this and go: ‘What are we going to do? Ok, we’ll try reverse psychology, we’ll try freezing her out, we’ll try cutting her off financially,’ and all of these things just make things worse and worse to comedy effect and in the end, they kind of have to bite the bullet and try and get along with this lad.

“Meanwhile, Jacob is going about redeeming himself. The story we’re telling is, from his point of view, about redemption. We discover things about how he arrived into the drug gang that we first encountered him in that will, I think, reframe people’s view of him and make you see him in a slightly different light. It’s about him trying to put the past behind him, rehabilitate himself, make amends where necessary to people like Leanne and Simon.”

The Nazirs try to rebuild their family

“The reintroduction of Zeedan has added a whole extra layer to them and the fact he’s brought trouble with him is good, because there’s nothing more difficult to storyline than a stable, soap family. But we want it to be clear that he’s still, underneath it all, a good guy who made a terrible mistake and partly our way of seeing that is through the introduction of his wife.

“She comes in, and suddenly holds a mirror up to some of Zeedan’s worst behaviours and he starts to regret hugely the man he’s accidentally become in trying to protect his secret and his crimes. The threat to him is, will he ultimately lose his happy ending as a result of the dishonesty he’s been perpetrating? It’s a really good story with lots of secrets, and lies, and family strife.

“Stu and Yasmeen, we like the idea there of re-exploring something of Yasmeen’s psychology after the Geoff story. I think it would be, and it happens in soaps including ours, it would be easy to sort of go: ‘Right, Geoff’s done now, let’s move onto the next thing with Yasmeen,’ and risk forgetting that happened and in reality, it’s such a colossal bomb that fell on her emotionally and psychologically that it would have life-long aftereffects so what we wanted to do is explore those aftereffects but do it in a way that didn’t feel we’re re-treading old ground.

“What we find is a story about whether she can trust again, whether her emotional circuitry, her psychology regarding relationships and friendships is irrevocably damaged by Geoff, or whether she can find a way through that. 

“I think Bill as Stu is just Corrie to the core. We imagined when we kind of dreamt him up as being a bit like what Peter Barlow might be if he was in his mid-sixties, so he’s a little bit rough and ready. He likes carousing and causing trouble and is generally a bit of a firecracker going off in Yasmeen’s front room, so that will have its own challenges for her, especially as some of his behaviours, which we will know are entirely benign and born of hijinks, will just subtly resemble some of the things Geoff did and it messes with her head quite a lot. It’s a really complicated and unique love story, I think. I will remain tight-lipped about exactly how it ends, but I’m looking forward to watching it.”

Family struggles for Chesney & Gemma 

“I wish, for many reasons, there hadn’t been a pandemic-related curtailment of our filming, but what that has meant, among other things, is that we haven’t been able to see as much of the quads and the children as we would have liked… but it felt like we were now able to examine what it’s like in that house a bit more, especially if you are Joseph.

“You’re a sensitive, young lad whose already got a certain amount of tragedy in your backstory with the death of his mum, and you’re also essentially in the box room while your parent’s attention is lavished entirely on these four little screaming children over there.

“It causes him to run away which provokes widespread panic which spins off into another story for a neighbouring household, but ultimately it’s the kind of beginnings of [Chesney and Gemma] struggling to deal with this kid who, I must stress, is not going to turn into a classic tearaway teen. 

“It’s a really heart-breaking story about a kid having an incredibly hard time and his parents, however well-meaning, struggling to contend with that and the wider family make some terrible decisions because it’s a drama and people have to make terrible decisions, but Bernie for one, in the aftermath of Joseph’s disappearance, makes a kind of pact that is for all the right reasons at the time, but will ultimately cause the whole family to be brought into disrepute. It jeopardises her burgeoning friendship/relationship with Dev. It makes the whole of the street really look sideways at the wider Winter-Brown family.

“It also spins off into a story that will see the reintroduction of a character connected to that household that will provide yet another threat to the stability of the residents of No.5. It’s got a lot going on, but I think that family can stand it.

“There is a story next year where Gemma in her eagerness to be an ally to the deaf community of which she and her family are now part, ends up in classic Gemma fashion of going ever so slightly too far in pursuit of a great, admirable goal and it ends up in a significant incident of public disorder, but it’s played in a kind of classic, slightly comedic, Coronation Street way. Gemma never quite knows when to quit or close her gob, and basically, in setting out to make the world a better place for Aled, she ultimately will succeed in increments, but on the way there she will lay waste to a lot of buildings and relationships.

“At the bottom of it, I think there is a really important story to tell about access for disabled and deaf children. I’m really anticipating it will be something that we should be quite proud of and we do, in a light-touch way, like to try and tell stories that we feel are provoking important conversations out in the world and I think this will probably be one of those if we do it right.”

Speaking about the actors in this story learning British Sign Language, Iain added: “It’s phenomenal. Dolly-Rose in particular is incredibly proficient and obviously we initially facilitated the lessons, but since then she’s taken it on and doing loads more than is ‘necessary,’ in her own time. She’s taking exams and qualifications in BSL. Maybe others in that acting family are as well that I’m not aware of, but all of them are really throwing themselves into it with gusto. Hats off to them all, they’re taking it incredibly seriously, if that’s the right way of describing it. It matters a lot to them, I think.”

Summer battles her self-confidence

“What we wanted to do with Summer is tell a relatable story about the pressures of being a teenager, specifically a teenage girl. That encompasses romantic travails, exam stress, academic pressure, the pressure to look a certain way, the pressure to conform with your peers, and even to the extent that the conformity with your peers might be risky from a health point of view.

“What it sort of spins off into is going to be one of our most important stories [this] year. It will dig further into her experience as a diabetic young woman, and I think reveal to our audience things that, certainly in my case, I was not really aware of as part of the diabetic condition. It’s going to be very long-running, very nuanced, and heart-breaking I think to watch this incredibly promising young woman disintegrate, but then in the best tradition of our storytelling, it will have a redemptive ending.

“It will be something which ultimately she will come through, will come to value herself for who she is rather than aspiring to some kind of abstract academic ideal. She will learn to love herself and, in the process, it will pull together that brilliant, but as yet, largely underexplored family dynamic where she’s kind of got three dads.

“I love the potential in that character group. I think the pandemic has meant it’s been very hard to put all of them in the same room at the same time, but when we’re able, having Paul, Todd, and Billy trying to co-parent this troubled, young woman, but always with the undercurrent of their messed up romantic entanglements underneath it all, I think is going to be really watchable and has bags of potential.”

Barlows Vs. Platts

“The Summer story also kind of forms part of a big new family feud that we’re already starting to bring to the boil, which is the Barlows vs. the Platts. Summer’s got a small part to play in that, and then peels off into her own big story, but then leaves behind this burning fuse which is a rivalry between Max and Daniel which then spins off into a fairly pronounced and bitter feud between David and Daniel, and obviously that sucks in Sarah and Adam, and it’s got that kind of clan warfare vibe to it.

“I was suddenly struck with the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever really seen Daniel and David in a scene together before… so having these two actors in really big, angry, emotional scenes, it’s just dynamite. I can’t believe that we haven’t done it before. I hope it works as well as the early phases suggest it will.”

Jenny’s blossoming relationship with Leo 

“It’s funny that when an older man goes out with a younger woman, barely anyone remarks on it, but when it’s the other way around, it’s the story. Partly, we’re telling this to address that, actually, and it’s about the fact that it shouldn’t be remarkable and there is a genuine level of emotion and love between these two characters.

“On the way there, Jenny has to kind of overcome her own internalised prejudices about what this is. It’s played like a rom-com, I think there’s some incredibly funny bits in it and one bit I’ve read in particular is very funny, but it’s kind of like mega-cringe. I nearly cringed myself inside-out when I read it, but in a really good, funny way. It’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s long-running.

“It’s about Jenny reckoning with her own sub-consciousness and everybody else’s prejudices and, in the end, single-mindedly decides to pursue her own happiness, but it being soap, it probably won’t turn out to be that straight-forward. It brings a lot of fun into the pub. The Rovers has been one of the biggest challenges during the pandemic. It’s one of the things that I’m itching to chuck 15 people in there as soon as I’m able, but at the moment we’re not.

“When we’re finally allowed to see them all at the same time, it’s been Sean and Daisy, and Ryan, and Emma, and Gemma and Jenny as this kind of mother-figure trying to wrangle her wayward children is just going to be brilliant. I’m really looking forward to getting The Rovers dynamic back to normal. I think the casting of the Rovers family is perfect. I just want to see them all now, please, at the same time. The Jenny story is bringing the fun and I think we probably all need some fun after the last two years. It’s funny, and it’s heartfelt. Again, it feels quite fresh.”

Fiz faces a huge dilemma

“I have absolutely loved every single second of that Fiz/Tyrone story. I certainly know that when I told some people about the plan to do it, there was a little bit of a roll of the eyes like, it’s going to be another soap affair, and actually I think right from frame one, it’s not been anything like that at all. It’s been bizarrely at times incredibly funny, it’s been incredibly heartfelt. I think the scene that Jennie did with Alan written by Ian Kershaw that went on for about nine minutes of uninterrupted marital breakdown was one of the best things I saw on television last year.

“It’s transitioned from the sublime to the ridiculous, to the highly dramatic around the dark psychology of Hope. We’ll be giving the audience cause to question Phill’s motives at times and I won’t spoil the outcome of all that but Fiz will end up in a huge dilemma about where her future lays. 

“We haven’t actually storylined it yet, but I think I know what I think Fiz’s happy ending looks like, shall we say. It’s going to be a long and brilliant and complicated story for the both of them. I think once you’ve been hurt like Fiz has and once you’ve been humiliated like Fiz has, even if you find yourself wanting your ex back, is it that straightforward?

“I think it’s going to be a cracking year for that household and, as if it wasn’t brilliant enough, you’ve then got Evelyn in the corner. I could essentially just watch a whole episode of Evelyn being sour and witty. It’s just about my favourite thing, ever, so there will be a lot of that as well.”

Sally & Tim’s relationship put to the test

“It stems from a New Years resolution, which seems quite innocuous at the time, and then very quickly turns into something that is fairly life-altering for one of that household. It then turns into a story that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on a soap done in anything other than a glancing way. But we’re sort of really dragging an incredibly prevalent issue out into the daylight and pointing the camera at it.

“I think some people might find the subject matter a bit awkward, but I think it’s incredibly potent in that family. It starts off quite small and ends up being this colossal threat to everything that Tim and Sally think they know about each other, about themselves about the nature of their relationship and what that might look like for the rest of their lives together. It’s massive, basically.

“It kicks off right at the start of January with a brilliantly ludicrous scene that I won’t describe in full, but suffice to say, Tim spends a portion of it mistakenly thinking he needs to take his trousers off. He pulls down his pants at precisely the wrong moment, and from there it turns into this huge kind of relationship threat for Tim and Sally.

“I love Tim and Sally. They feel like an iconic Corrie couple. Every so often, somebody will come along to a story conference and pitch something that splits them up and sends them off with different people, as in permanently, and it always starts a massive argument, just like it did when we talked about doing it with Tyrone and Fiz. I think they just feel right together, Tim and Sally. They’re peas in a pod, aren’t they? I think that’s why this story will really matter to our audience.” 

Caught your breath after all that? I hope you’re all looking forward to 2022 on the cobbles as much as I am! 

Sophie Williams

Find me on Twitter @sophie_writer1.

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

No comments:


You might also like...

Coronation Street Books for Fans