Coronation Street

Celebrating Coronation Street

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img_5132126.65 million viewers tuned in to watch Coronation Street on Christmas Day in 1987 as Hilda Ogden walked down the cobbles for the final time as she bid farewell to Weatherfield.

That’s 26.65 million people all seated around their television watching that final scene together. That shows the power of television back in the 1980s.

Those ratings are a thing of the past nowadays given the amount of choice that we now have, but still incredible to think of viewers in that scale.

Recently I attended a Coronation Street event to celebrate 60 years of Granada which was held at HOME in Manchester. I love Coronation Street and all that it encompasses.
In attendance were Sally Dyvenor (Sally Metcalfe but she’ll always be Sally Webster to me), Connor McIntyre (Pat Phelan, arguably the best soap villain since Richard Hillman and Jez Quigly), writers Debbie Oates and John Stevenson, Exec Producer Kieron Roberts and voice of Granada Charles Foster.img_57991

What followed was a truly, indulgent Corrie fest featuring TV clips from the past, voiced by the people who create the show.

I wasn’t prepared for how emotional I became watching some of those clips as they transported back to the era in my life when those characters played a central function to me. I watched Annie Walker and Bet Lynch heading up the Rovers through my young eyes, then into my late teens as Bet Lynch became Bet Gilroy and her side-kick was Alec ‘Tiger’ Gilroy. img_58051

Then onto all grown-up and responsible me as the audience were treated to a preview of Nick Tilsley and Peter Barlow fighting on the street in the 2016 Christmas Day special. It resembled the scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary when Hugh Grant and Colin Firth collided in fisticuffs in a middle-class British bust up, but instead of snow there were cobbles and gnomes.

For me, watching Hilda and Stan frantically searching a land-fill site for abandoned underwear with the hilarious Eddie Yeates was a delight for a die-hard Corrie fan such as myself. I sat in silence as I lapped up this nostalgic evening and realising how much this television soap has become such a big part of my life.

The first times that I was affected emotionally through television and characters were through Starsky and Hutch and Coronation Street.

I can recall feeling desperately anxious that Hutch was going to die from the plague in an old two-part episode in the 70s which I think was titled ‘Plague’. It caused no end of stress for my sister and I who loved the character of Hutch, so we were all behind Starsky as he began his race against time to save his partner. We were there every second of the way with him as he bravely fought the ‘baddies’ to find a cure. The relief those two little girls felt when Hutch finally awoke from his coma was huge.

img_58061Secondly, I can vividly recall watching the Ken, Deirdre and Mike love triangle unfold and feeling such anger towards Deirdre for cheating on Ken with Mike Baldwin. How dare she do that to Ken! So when Mike turned up on her doorstep I was right behind Ken Barlow and secretly praying that Deirdre would come to her senses and quickly.

And so at six years old began my love of television and characters who invoke emotion in me that continue to this day.

Coronation Street and their larger than life characters have been with me throughout school, college, becoming a young parent, through loneliness, depression, career building and now into my forties. It is a comforting friend who is always there no matter where I am in my own journey.

I’ve fallen in and out of love with the characters and can relate to it’s stories, humour, northern-ness and now I work across the water from where it is made. I often see Nick Tilsley going for his run in the morning as I walk to work, have ordered a pint next to Tyrone and queued up for the toilet behind Carla.

I thank Granada for delighting me with this trip down memory lane, a remarkable evening celebrating the past and the future of the street. I think my love for Weatherfield will continue past retirement and into my twilight years. img_57971

It might never reach 26.65 million viewers again, but it definitely has its die-hard fans who’ll stick with it through their own milestones in life.

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Self-promotion : Challenge 23

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It’s all well sitting behind a screen and dreaming that one you’d like to see your play on a stage being performed by actors, or listening to a piece of radio that you wrote etc. This will only happen once you get your name out and the internet is a great place to start.

The goal is visibility. Name recognition can lead to industry awareness, respect, paid writing assignments, and greater creative control over your career. That would be a nice goal to aspire to, but I still need to pay the bills and working full time in the day job will be a reality for years to come. Somehow, Hollyoaks or Corrie aren’t going to come knocking, unless I can go to them with some credits to my name.

The first stop was to get some work published online so I sent off my CV and examples of written features. Two e-zines took me on as a features writer so long as I could contribute three articles per month. The first time I saw an article that I had penned published online with my name next to it, well that was a nice feeling. Always great to see your name next to something that you have put heart and soul into.

The next piece of advice I was given was to start a blog. Having no idea what I would write about, the only thing at the time that I felt confident writing about was running. My first blog title Sweaty Betty was born. I wrote in that for approximately nine months. Due to a serious back injury which affected my running, I neglected this and felt that I wasn’t in the position to blog on that subject given the current circumstances with my health.

I don’t know about other people, but thinking of a name for a blog is not the easiest of things to come up with. I rattled my brains for weeks to think of a catchy title, that would not only sum me up, but also be a reference to what my interests were. I wanted the blog to reflect my journey as a struggling writer, and then The Northern Scribbler was born.

The blog has only been live for nine months, but already has over 1800 views, and I’m pretty sure they are not all from my mum and the other half. It’s always a massive compliment when a complete stranger decides to follow my blog, as they don’t know me and they have taken the time to sign up to an email notification everytime I post something. I currently have 42 people who have signed up to following my blog and I appreciate every single one of them.

I’ve been taking part in @sofluid June writing challenge this month. I decided to participate as my entries to the blog were very sporadic and I wanted to spark some life into the site. As a result of doing this challenge the creator of http://www.writesofluid.com wanted to feature me in an interview about the challenge. This was a really nice request, I’ve never been interviewed for anything before – except jobs, and quite a compliment to be featured next to “proper published authors”.scribbler

Finally, in order for me to gain a greater knowledge of stories and structure I decided to become an online theatre reviewer. It’s a great way to see live shows and Manchester is rich in the arts industry, both with our fantastic The Lowry, Opera House and the Royal Exchange Theatre, but also it has a large fringe theatre scene which seems to be growing. Being part of this is such a privilege, and is also a cost effective way to see lots of exciting plays.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

Collaborative Writing (Part 2)

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It’s been a while since my first post on collaborative writing. Since that post I managed to hand in my episode of the radio drama (episode five) and a two thousand word reflective essay on the whole process of working as a team.

First and foremost that I learnt about from my experience of team writing is that everybody needs to know the contents of each episode, in order to craft their episode with a natural flow. What I mean is that it is really bloody difficult to write your own episode without knowing what the episodes preceding your own contain, in terms of plot, characters used and the overall story arc.

However, my experience of team writing changed when I booked myself on a storylining workshop at the end of January. To anybody who wishes to experience a simulated storylining conference environment, with two very experienced professionals in Gill Creswell who was a storyliner for Coronation Street and a writer for Hollyoaks, and Jo Hallows who was Executive Producer for Hollyoaks, this is certainly a worthwhile investment to any prospective team writer.Hollyoaks

The venue was at the magnificent People’s History Museum in Spinningfields, Manchester. Day one was an introduction to scriptwriting and contained all the usual pointers on characters, dialogue, three-act structure and plotting. Gill gave the group some great little exercises on how to develop a story, and using imagery was introduced – something I have never considered before, but I will now.

Day two was what I had booked onto the course for. The storylining conference! We were given some facts to a story which as a team we were working on developing. We came up with characters, back story, a ten scene story, a title and all of this was through everybody being given the opportunity to pitch their ideas. It was an incredible experience, and I left the course with a few more contacts to my book and confidence that in the future I won’t be shy on sharing my ideas.

Hopefully, these skills learnt will come in handy one day when I get to write for Hollyoaks, Corrie or Waterloo Road.