“AT the moment Corrie’s literally, and metaphorically, on fire.”
Coronation Street producer Stuart Blackburn talking today (Friday) about five nights of explosive drama next week.
We saw that unfold at a London preview screening this afternoon followed by a Q&A with Stuart, director David Kester and members of the cast.
Some of what we saw and heard is embargoed, so as not to spoil the enjoyment of viewers.
With Coronation Street screened at 9pm every night from Monday to Friday next week.(May 25 to 29)
It begins with Steve (Simon Gregson) and Michelle’s (Kym Marsh) wedding.
As Tracy (Kate Ford) begins to wreak her revenge after her ambition to rule the Rovers Return was thwarted by Carla (Alison King).
A fire breaks out at Victoria Court, leading to a chain of dramatic events.
Here’s a flavour of what Stuart and David had to say today.
Edited to remove any major spoilers about events next week.
BUT be warned, if you’ve not been reading recent Corrie coverage then you will discover some advance storyline and character spoilers below:
Stuart Blackburn introduced the screening:
“The ability of a show like Corrie to still shock and surprise the audience is really precious.
“These episodes are about as spectacular as they come. They really, really are. I don’t think I even realised how big. And it was a massive, massive ask. Instead of 13 days, I think the shoot took five weeks. We had seven nights of night shoots where all the crew and cast were out until six in the morning. And if any of you have been on the Street you’ll know how cold it is. It was Corrie at its best. Everyone working as a team, seeking perfection in every syllable, in every second on screen. And I’d never claim that it was perfect but we did a damn good job. Mostly thanks to David Kester, our director.
“What was really important for me – stunts are great, we absolutely love them, but it couldn’t be a stunt for stunt’s sake. It had to be a series of episodes that came from real truth, character and story. And I think we achieved that. The wedding is part of it. That’s the culmination of what’s been a really horrible year for Steve and Michelle. And it’s a marker of how far Steve’s come. Michelle looks stunning at the wedding. And going forward from this, I think if ever a couple deserved a dog called Rover and happiness it’s those two. Happiness they’ll have.
“Also the sense of these episodes, well it’s Tracy’s revenge isn’t it? That hasn’t come from nowhere. Like Mike and Ken before, that’s been brewing up for months and years. What started off when she was with Rob as Tracy’s jealousy has just built and built until utter loathing. And coming out of these episodes those characters are going on very different journeys.
“It’s the same for everybody involved…everyone involved is going to head into the summer with stories that could only happen because of this fire. And it is a really spectacular summer we’ve got coming. It’s not all about weddings and fires. We’ve got the reveal that Gavin isn’t Gavin. He’s not even Gandy, he’s Andy. We’ve got the escalation of the war with the Platts and Callum. We’ve got some beautiful stuff with Craig and the Tinkers, possible new love for Roy, some really, really good stuff.
“And aside from story, we’ve also got the return of Kylie, Fiz and Eva. And the arrival of – in order – Tristam Gemmill, Sarah Harding, Paddy McGuinness and Shayne Ward. So lots to look forward to.”
Extracts from the post-screening Q&A:
The fire in Carla’s flat?
Director David Kester: “There was lots of planning basically. We spent a long time breaking it down scene by scene. Just deciding what we were going to do mechanically in terms of all the stunts. There was a lot of special effects, a lot of stunt work. So in a sense I had to be across all of that so that when it came down to the shoot I could give my support to the actors and just concentrate on that, knowing that everything else was going to go as planned. Which it pretty much did. Apart from when the fire brigade turned up thinking there was a real fire. It was a little bit awkward. It’s just planning and that whole thing about making it look incredibly dangerous but, of course, it isn’t because we don’t want to harm our actors in any way. We had a lot of protective clothing. We had overalls, face masks…and, of course, the actors couldn’t have any of that stuff.”
Can we expect to see a softer side to Tracy after she has wreaked her revenge next week?
Stuart Blackburn: “Not initially, no. But longer term, going forward, it’ll be the return of her ex-husband Robert Preston that’ll start to offer her a chance. He’s essentially a good guy. He knows who Tracy is. There’s no rose-tinted spectacles. But we’ll start to see the kind of transformation of Tracy through him and with his support and help. He knows how bad she can be. He also knows that so much of it comes from a base of vulnerability. She’s scared. And he’s going to be a good influence on her life.”
Stuart said he would not be splitting up the double act of Tim (Joe Duttine) and Sally (Sally Dynevor).
“No way. They’re gold dust. They’re working so well together and I think Sally has produced some of the best work I’ve seen for decades. And what you can see between the two of them is how much they love being with each other on set. It’s just obvious.”
Asked about Deirdre’s (Anne Kirkbride) funeral, Stuart replied:
“What I will say is, the scripts are magnificent. Really, really magnificent. And, yes, it’s an upsetting experience for all of us for obvious reasons. But I think it’s a really fitting tribute to Deirdre. Yes, there are tears, yes there are hurt and big issues. But there’s humour there. Real, real humour. A lock-in in the back room of the Rovers after the funeral. There’s great stuff.”