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Corrie boss confirms Coronavirus WILL feature in future storylines

"While the virus will exist in Coronation Street, we were also keen that it wouldn't dominate every single story and every single scene." says Iain MacLeod.

On the 16th March, a week before Boris Johnson announced lockdown, Coronation Street aired a scene in which Geoff ordered Yasmeen to wash her hands to Happy Birthday, something which turned out to be completely coincidental, filmed weeks before and not a reference to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Two days later, the soap announced that from 30th March, only three episodes a week would air instead of six, in a bid to keep Corrie on air as long as possible. Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and EastEnders also announced similar cullings to their schedules.

Now seven weeks later, Corrie's producer Iain MacLeod has started to open up about what the future may hold for the soap when lockdown is lifted and filming can safely resume.

Speaking to a number of press including I Talk Telly during a virtual press conference, Iain gave some of the clearest answers yet about how Coronation Street will look post-Covid-19.

He said "The bottom line is, we've talked a lot about whether Coronation Street would have Coronavirus present in it or whether we would exist in a parallel universe where everything proceeded in a pre-pandemic fashion."

"Ultimately what I thought was that the Coronation Street that we love reflects modern Britain - albeit in a more heightened way sometimes - and it just felt that if there were to be no Coronavirus in Coronation Street it would stop being a reflection of modern Britain and instead be a parallel fantasy land."

"So we took the view that it HAS to exist in our world. However I am also aware that people tune in to Coronation Street for escapism to some degree and to see drama and stories that (they) never normally experience in their own lives, and stuff that they'd never normally see in their own living rooms played out on screen."

"While the virus will exist in Coronation Street, we were also keen that it wouldn't dominate every single story and every single scene. It'll be there, you'll be able to see evidence of it in the way people behave, hand-washing protocols and the way our businesses run will be tweaked to do more takeaways like food outlets are doing in the real world."

"But we'll still continue telling the same brilliant dramatic stories with the healthy dollop of comedy that we always do, because to do otherwise would turn the show into something that the viewers don't recognise.

"It'll be there. It'll be handled with a light touch. Other than that, our storytelling will be business as usual."

On the topic of whether audiences are only wanting a bit of light relief at the moment, Iain gave reassurance that the soap isn't changing the tone it has built up for almost 60 years, "Obviously Coronation Street will always be funny and it won't stop being funny. Not on my watch anyway. Look at the reaction to the Geoff and Yasmeen story. That's about as far away from a comedic story as you can possibly get and yet it's probably had more impact with our audience than any story we've done in the last two or three years."

"That alone, is evidence that people want to watch drama and they want to watch the same hardhitting stories that Corrie does so well. They don't want suddenly to be watching a different programme. What people find reassuring about Corrie is that they know it, they know what it is, and if we changed it into something else overnight, it would cease to have its reassuring values."

Whilst Iain didn't suggest a date for when Corrie may disappear from the ITV schedules, Kevin Lygo, ITV's Director of Television, suggested during a special Edinburgh TV Festival session last week that the soap would run out of episodes in June, a few weeks after Emmerdale.

Coronation Street continues Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm on ITV


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