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

Monday 2 January 2023

Iain MacLeod Interview - 2023 Coronation Street preview

Happy New Year, folks! It's that time of the year once more, and we are kicking off 2023 with a jam-packed interview with Corrie boss Iain MacLeod who teases what drama we can expect to kick off on the cobbles over the next 12 months. Grab a cuppa, get yourselves comfortable and find out what your favourite characters are up to in 2023.

Nina & Roy

"Nina has bought Roy a smartphone for Christmas, and as long-term viewers of the show will know, Roy abhors smartphones. He’s got a dusty, 1990s Dell laptop that he occasionally gets out to play online Scrabble, and that’s probably about as far as his digital world extends. Nina thinks he needs to get with the programme and buys him this phone and comedy ensues, but then, it takes on a more serious hue because Roy decides one day to go on a bat-based adventure, and he’s given his phone away at this point because he doesn’t want it anymore, and he finds himself in a certain amount of jeopardy which then draws Nina into a certain amount of jeopardy. 

"What starts off as this light-hearted story kind of takes on a much more serious complexion, and it becomes about Roy’s love for Nina and vice versa. Off the back of this incident, Roy decides, “Nina’s right, I do need a mobile phone,” and there’s a classic Corrie story about Roy and mobile phone addiction. I did hear rumours when I first arrived on Coronation Street that David Neilson’s one red line was that Roy would never have a mobile phone, so when we storylined this, I was kind of hiding from David thinking, when he reads this script, he’s going to go mad. But in the end, he didn’t. He really appreciates the comedy behind it, and to some degree by the end of the story, normal service is resumed. 

"Roy’s not going to be posting TikTok videos or anything of that type. Although, now I say that out loud… Feels like a missed opportunity. But, no, normal service will be resumed to an extent with Roy, but we just thought it’s a fun journey to go on that’s about the generational difference between him and Nina. It draws Evelyn into the mix as well, and I’m just increasingly loving their dynamic."


"This story will reach its climax in the first couple of months, but the after-effects, like all our stories, last for a very long time after that. At its core, what we really wanted to do was tell a parenting story, oddly enough. It might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you watch it, but we just thought, what do you do if you’ve got a vulnerable, isolated, difficult teenager with an incredibly traumatic backstory who finds his tribe, and it’s a group of people who you fundamentally are scared of and scared by and hold views that you really don’t agree with. Like, how do you approach that? 

"And it’s a real parenting challenge for David, and when Julia’s back from maternity leave, for Shona as well. The most interesting bit is seeing David who, I think it’s fair to say, has had quite a light-touch parenting approach over the years, hasn’t done a great deal, has kind of treated Max more like a friend than his son, and obviously, biologically he’s not his son, which I think has had an input on that as well. So seeing David having to finally knuckle down and face the biggest parenting challenge he’s ever had to face has been really fascinating and interesting to watch. Obviously, in the hands of Jack, who’s a consummate performer, has been absolutely brilliant. "


"What drama will Damon bring in 2023? Lots. He’s a dangerous character. At first, he might seem he’s a more sophisticated operator than Harvey and a bit less of a blunt instrument, but actually, what we discover in the not-too-distant future is that that kind of more polished, jovial veneer is just masking something that’s every bit as dangerous and brutal as Harvey is. He up-ends a lot of people’s lives, really. He brings some criminality into a family that could probably do with moving on from their past, but suddenly, wham, they’re right back in the mess again thanks to him. 

"There’s loads of stuff to play, as he reconnects with family members and up-ends their lives as well. Also, as the year goes on, he’s got this kind of magnetic attraction for a notable, high-profile female character in the show, who ends up having her head turned in a way that has very far-reaching consequences. I’m currently working on storylines that pertain to June, and there’s a build-up and then a colossal explosion in that story involving Damon and that love-story that will be on air in June. I’m really excited about Ciaron’s presence in the show. Much like the character, he has this sense of danger about his performance, and I saw some stuff the other day where he was sort of turning on a sixpence from charming, affable, youth-orientated businessman to terrifying, dead-eyed shark, and it is really riveting stuff. 

"I would love to think at some point, we can revisit [Harvey]. Obviously, it’s tricky when fictional characters are in jail. How do you import their influence to your show when they’re actually over there somewhere? We’ve overcome more difficult hurdles than that in the past, so I’d love to think at some point we can get Harvey out on the street, and stick him in a room with Damon who, by the time Harvey were to get out, Damon and Harvey would be absolutely blood enemies, if there is such a thing. So the idea of Harvey vs Damon at some point in the future is kind of tantalising."


"[Hope] does start to dwell on her dad. She had a little bit of corrupted information on John from her half-sister Jade, if you remember. But really, she doesn’t know a great deal about John, and she develops this increasingly toxic curiosity about her dad that leads into some fairly interesting sort of blackly comedic territory. She becomes sort of slightly obsessed with John in a way that causes problems for Fiz and Tyrone. 

"Fiz and Tyrone themselves, their troubles are behind them, but of course, anyone that’s a parent, the troubles will never be entirely behind you, so there’s some difficulty parenting Hope going forward. Without giving too much away, Hope’s troubled behaviour ends up in a fairly acrimonious feud with one of her adult neighbours that involves a chinchilla, so I’ll leave your imaginations to fill in the blanks, there. We get into chinchilla-gate at some point. I suppose that’s an indication of the kind of tone we’ve got with that family next year.

"There’s difficult bits, no doubt about it, and actually, Hope’s behaviour will become increasingly difficult over the course of the year, but there’s also really light-hearted bits, like the chinchilla stuff. There’s also a really lovely bit, where in the wake of the chinchilla story, Fiz and Tyrone feel a bit like they’re maybe sleep-walking back into the staleness that lead Tyrone to stray last time, so they try to re-enliven the romantic side of their relationship, and it all goes horrendously and embarrassingly wrong. Sally and Tim’s dressing up box features, but it’s really funny. Again, you’ve got Evelyn in the middle of that, and she’s funny all the time, so it’s a really brilliant family for us. It’s a right mixture of tones."


"Everyone should be worried. I know whenever you’ve got a serial killer in a soap, the whole cast is worried because suddenly, they’re like, “Is it going to be me?” It’s quite funny in that respect, but, yes, lots of people should be worried. I love this about Todd as well - someone once asked Alan Rickman if he enjoyed playing villains, and he very dryly said, “I don’t play villains, darling, I just play very interesting people,” and Todd Boyce has a similar view of Stephen when people say, “You’re a serial killer, are you?” And he’s like, “Well, no, I’m just a very desperate man backed into a corner.” 

"We know now that he did away with Leo, partly out of necessity, partly out of male pride when he called him an old man. But needless to say in a soap, no bodies ever stay buried for long, so he encounters some fairly serious jeopardy in the form of Leo’s dad Teddy who turns up in the not-too-distant future and has the whiff of suspicion around Stephen, thinking he might have something to do with Leo’s disappearance. Of course, we know what Stephen did last time he was backed into a corner, so I guess the question is – what lengths will Stephen go to rid himself of this new threat? 

"I think [Todd]’s brought such a clever performance to that role and such rawness. The desperate scenes after he killed Leo, I felt, weirdly, such a profound sense of empathy with him because he looked so broken and red-eyed and exhausted. We’re trying to treat it like a film noir, where the guy just gets himself, due to his fatal flaw which is arrogance and egotism and desire to be top dog, it just drives him into increasingly desperate acts over the course of the next 12 months or so. He’s got shades of Richard Hillman about him, I think for me, that kind of pomposity and that refusal to accept you’re on the bones of your behind, and the desire to present this image of the successful guy. 

"He sees his first step back on the ladder to the top of the international rag trade as getting a gig at Underworld, and then trying to topple the current queen of the pile, Carla. So this good kind of psychological warfare that begins with those two, and of course, it’s all freighted with knowledge on our part as viewers, we know he’s killed someone, so when Carla’s in there belittling him and making him make the tea and undercutting him in front of clients and all the rest of it, she’s just kind of unwittingly poking this hornet’s nest. At some point, all the hornets do come out, but not probably in the way you expect. I reckon if anyone predicts what Stephen does to Carla, I’ll eat my hat. His plan is so out there and dark that I’d be incredibly surprised if anyone spots it coming over the hill."

Daisy & Daniel

"The headline description of the story would be – it’s a kind of story about being a young woman on the internet, and the dangers that face influencers and high-profile, even in Daisy’s case, quite small-fry, but she’s got a certain online following, and essentially, that brings her into a certain degree of danger as the wedding approaches. Most of the story is quite light-hearted. It’s a culture-clash comedy between Daniel, who sort of feels like, “We should have a Dickens themed wedding,” and Daisy’s like, “Are you having a laugh?” This kind of idea that you’ve got mini-Ken Barlow who wants a very serious kind of academic and cultured wedding, and then you’ve got Daisy who wants everything to be extra, so there’s loads of good fun to be had, there. 

"But in the background, there’s this creeping danger that arises from Daisy’s online life, and then, by the time that surfaces, and it takes a while for Daisy and Daniel to realise this danger’s brewing. By the time that lands, we’re into a really interesting sort of current, socially important story with far-reaching psychological impact that runs across the whole of 2023 and threatens their relationship, leads to Daisy’s faith in Daniel being shaken, as she maybe has her head turned. We do meet her mum in the middle as well. Her mum is chaotic, selfish, hates Jenny, so there’s some comedy. She knows karate as well which is a bit of a problem for Jenny who doesn’t. She’s played by Amy Robbins, and the moment I clapped eyes on her audition tape for that part, it was just her. That provides a lot of lightness in the run-up to the wedding. 

"It also illuminates something of Daisy’s backstory because she presents as this very together, very comfortable in her own skin, confident, sort of glamorous young woman, but we discover her past is slightly sadder than that. Nothing hugely tragic or traumatic, but we round out a lot of her backstory in a way where there’s loads of pathos, and I really feel for Daisy across all this story. So it really balances out all the nonsense around her crazy wedding planning. It is a story that’s got a bit of everything. I think it’s going to be an important story for us, and it’s one that you don’t generally see on television, and it’s a long-runner."


"Romance is in the air for two of them – I’ll leave you to try and guess which of them it might be. I know historically there’s very strong feelings from people that are kind of team Todd and Billy, and then Paul and Billy. We’ve been back and forth about this as a writing team for years, actually, since Paul came into the show, really. We’ve picked a team, but actually, whatever team ends up being the couple at the end of it, the story will be about the three of them. 

"My Two Dads did very well as a sitcom, so we just figured My Three Dads has got to be one better, surely? So, we love that dynamic. It feels entirely unique. I can’t think of another setup like that in another soap, maybe not in another drama, that kind of, you know, same-sex trio, all essentially parenting this troubled 19-year-old girl as she goes through what she’s been going through. It’s loads of fun. 

"We see a lot of heart from Todd in places, we see a lot of deviousness from Todd in places. We also kind of crash a huge story onto one of them that sort of causes former enemies to become best friends in secret. It’s a really interesting year for them, I have to say. Again, they’re at the centre of one of our biggest stories."

The younger cast

"I won’t forget in a hurry the magazine cover that came out a couple of years ago that had all of our young cast on the front. I just remember thinking, “My goodness, we’re lucky to have all these talented actors,” and since then, a couple have gone, a couple of new ones have come in, but we’ve still got this fantastic cohort of youngsters. 

"We thought, actually, there’s again a huge story we can tell that features them right at the heart of it. It’s very relatable and very teenage. We’re hoping it'll be one of those Coronation Street stories that kind of shocks people a bit and provokes awkward conversations in front of the television. We’re very fortunate as a show that we’ve got that cross-generational appeal where younger people might sit with their nana and watch Coronation Street, and this story, I think, will sort of encourage conversations that you would never normally have in that cross-generational way because there’s tricky tonal territory, but I’m really pleased with it. 

"We’re working closely with a couple of charities to make sure we get the detail right. Fundamentally, it’s just about those brilliant young actors being the superstars that they are. Much like the Seb/Nina story, it was ostensibly about an assault on a teenager, it drew in Roy, Abi, a whole cross-generation group of characters, and our best stories in my opinion are the ones that do that, that don’t just live in one particular demographic corner, and this is exactly one of those, really. It’s huge stuff for the people directly involved, and their parents, loved ones, families, extended friendship groups. The ripples spread out across the whole show."

What stories are you most looking forward to in 2023? 

Sophie Williams 

Find me on Twitter @sophie_writer1.

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


Fluttershy said...

A decent storyline for the Bailey's? No? Thought not.

Joseph said...

What worries me about this is the amount of times 'comedy' and 'lightness' are mentioned in this interview. Of course you want some lighthearted moments, otherwise it would be a really depressing show, but one of my biggest problems with Corrie right now is the way it handles comedy. For example, playing what should be serious issues for laughs or going down the silly sitcom road. It doesn't sound like that's going to change.

On a positive note, that last bit regarding a potential storyline for the younger members of the cast sounds promising. Not that I watched much of it but I really liked the Seb/Nina story, and the dynamics surrounding that. 2022 was missing that sort of story so I hope they can do something similar for 2023.

Sharon boothroyd said...

Sounds great. I think Damon's lady friend is going to be Tracey Barlow, Maria, Dee Dee or Jenny.
I'd like to see Daniel return to teaching and for him, Daisy and Bertie to get their own place.


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