Last week, I managed to catch up with Coronation Street's leading lady Kim Crowther at the press screening for Liam's death episode(s). So here, in a candid chat, Corrie's number one producer talks about her aims for the show, the demise and potential return of the Mortons, Carla's brother, Corrie's credits, the Windass clan, Eileen Grimshaw and Underworld knicker stitcher Wiki Dankowska.
A big thanks to all those who sent in possible questions for the chat. Due to time constraints, I was only able to choose the best handful!
You've been at the head of Corrie for a good number of months now – how did you settle into the role?
"Alright I think! [Laughs] I kind of knew how big the job was going to be as I worked on the show before as assistant producer for four years, so I knew what it all entailed."
What have been your main goals for the show?
"I wanted more humour and more of our regular cast on screen. I just felt that we were playing too few stories with too few character groups. I wanted to see a lot more stories with a lot more regulars."
How proud are you of the Liam murder storyline?
"There's lots of big stuff coming up over the autumn and into the winter, but the story has been building over quite a long period of time. Rob was leaving so we seized the opportunity to make a big story out of it. And actually, this isn't the end – it's the start of the next chapter that goes on for much longer than you'd expect. I think (and hope!) it'll be very surprising for viewers."
You've had quite a substantial cast clear out since you arrived. What were the reasons for the changes?
"The decisions were made to make space for a lot of the regular cast that I felt we weren't really seeing on screen. A lot of really good actors have gone and we may them see again – I'm not saying we won't – but I didn't think there was any point in keeping people around if they didn't have a story and they hadn't quite made their mark."
A lot of viewers started warming to the characters you ultimately axed – the Masons, the Mortons and Vernon. Was it intended that we felt like that towards them? Do you regret any of your decisions?
"We had a big story for the Mortons (the poisoning) but I think they had been too long on screen without a story and so people were saying 'Who are they?' and 'What's their purpose?' I actually think that since Teresa came in – played by Karen Henthorn – they suddenly started to make sense. But unfortunately, we felt it was too late.
"That doesn't mean we won't see any of them again - some of them I'm hoping to bring back - but I think it's really hard to establish such a big family all at once. You need a big story to kick them off and you need to be able to integrate them with the other characters. That was one of their problems. Even when we played the big poisoning story, which I think they all did fantastically with, it was all very isolated from the rest of the cast. We only got to know Darryl [Johnny Dixon] and became comfortable with him because of his involvement with the Platts and David [Jack P. Shepherd]. That was one of the reasons why we decided to keep him around."
A lot of people are seeing the new Windass clan as a Morton family replacement – is that the case?
"No – they're coming in for a story with the Platts. We have a story to play out but whether they stay beyond that remains to be seen. We have a story and it involves bringing some new characters in, but it's mainly about the Platts - a group of characters we all know and love. The Windass family will cause mayhem for them. Hopefully we'll start to love the Windass family, too, even if we find that we love to hate them! If that's the case, then hopefully we'll hang on to them."
One question I've been burning to ask you – will we ever see Carla's brother? Do you have any plans for him?
"Not at the moment, but we do talk about him from time to time, so don't be surprised if he does pop up. Watch this space. We've got lots of other exciting things planned for Carla, so when Alison [King] returns from maternity leave, she'll be very busy."
Eileen Grimshaw – I think I've billed her in the past as one of the most underused characters in soap. What are your thoughts? Do you have any plans for her?
"Yeah, we've got quite a big story that we'll be playing with her over the coming months where we meet her dad. It'll connect her to Rita and Julie… I'm not going to tell you any more than that! Sue is absolutely fantastic though, I agree."
You're bringing back Peter Barlow soon - do you have any more plans to bring back any fan favourites?
"Not at the moment, no. But I'm extremely happy Peter Barlow's coming back to the show. Tony Gordon and Peter Barlow are two strong men on the Street and I really do think that they'll fulfil some of the same territory Rob [James-Collier] did."
Are there any classic characters you'd like to see return?
"There are lots of characters that I've loved over the years, like Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander), Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones) and Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay). I loved Tracey Barlow (Kate Ford) – I'd love to bring her back, too. There are too many to choose from. But at the same time, I think we've got some fantastic characters in the show at the moment, so I don't think there's a hole that needs filling. The stories that we've got playing over the autumn and winter will hopefully fulfil – or at least start to fulfil – my aims which I set out when I became producer. We've got so many great characters that we can play stories with at the moment. Becky's going to be massive next year, too."
What's the latest on Bradley Walsh's return?
"At the moment, there are no plans to for Bradley to return."
Will you be delving into the past of Wiki? She's very popular on the DS forums...
"We may well do when she comes back from maternity leave. I think she's great. I completely respect what fans say on forums such as Digital Spy, but I do try to avoid them due to the time difference between transmission and filming - I'm always thinking three months ahead!"
And finally, the opening credits – do you have any plans to update them?
"No. I wouldn't like to. I'm a bit old school and I like us to know where we are with the show that we love and I would be loathe to change the credits or the music."
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