.........Is one of the best descriptions I've heard about soap. And say what you like, Corrie got a 50.2 share last night for the trial of Tracy Barlow.
A lot of writers turn their nose up at soap - or serial drama as the execs prefer to call it, soap paradoxically becoming a dirty word.
But the figures speak for themselves and while they do, any writer who slanders soap in front of a network exec is not likely to get a Christmas card.
And here's the truth - soap is damned hard to write! Think about it, it eats up story like like a machine. You have maybe thirty characters you have to know inside out, each one some viewers favourite, the time pressures are enormous, stories can change several times through the drafts, and the level of interference/collaboration by others is a constant challenge.
The best soaps pull it all together really well. Production needs versus creativity and the right balance of plot, story, humour and drama. And that's why they can get a 50.2 share. And it's damned hard work.
Without wishing to offend anyone's tastes I think Corrie is probably the most loved of the UK soaps because they most often get that balance right. And I think that is largely because the writing team on Corrie have a large degree of influence. For example I flicked over to an ep of EastEnders the other night. Five seconds in a teenage girl came out with a line that was so jarringly incongruous that I flicked away again. I don't actually believe a writer wrote that line. I think it had to be a script ed or producer. And from what I hear about the power of the writing team I don't think that would happen on Corrie.
And that is one of the main reasons why soap writing is hard. The characters are well known and have been loved/hated by the viewers sometimes over many years. One slip in characterisation and the viewer is scratching their head. They don't care if it was an overnight re-write because a story strand disappeared due to an actor being arrested for kiddie fiddling. You screwed up and ruined their night's viewing. Soap requires a combination of fleetness of foot and deftness of touch from everyone involved. Not an easy thing to do when you are on 4 or 5 nights a week.
And who are some of the biggest hitters on UK TV right now? Paul Abbot, Tony Jordan, Jimmy McGovern, Ashley Pharoh. All ex soap writers. It's not everyone's cup of tea but it's one heck of a training ground and introduction to the realities of TV.
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