BAFTA winning 9pm dramas such as Line Of Duty and Unforgotten are rightly lauded with pundits for being astonishingly written and performed. But I defy anyone watching Coronation Street right now to tell me they are not producing an equal or higher standard of work – under much harder conditions.
Corrie is a beast that never stops and hasn’t for 60 years – with six episodes to write, film, edit and produce every week under Covid restrictions there is no time to rehearse, touch up scenes, go again and workshop.
And yet it is a show that has been on top form even when the odds have been stacked against it.
This week saw the start of a storyline that has been planned for years – and that planning is so clear.
Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) was the victim of a hate attack, which killed her boyfriend Seb Franklin (Harry Visinoni), a twist that rocked viewers to the care and was strategically held back with the work of the soaps, the media and the charity for Sophie Lancaster.
Based on the harrowing murder of Sophie, the storyline highlights hate, intolerance and a seemingly helpless and horrific world in which someone can be viciously attacked just for being themselves.
Sophie’s mum, Sylvia, has worked with the show and the writers and actors on this story and it is clearly important for the whole team that they get it right.
The teenage actors among the cast are outrageously good right now – with all of them involved, not one of them is a weak link – with victims, survivors and villains all pulling out A-game material that promises them future stardom if there’s any justice.
The writing has never been more Corrie – rooted in human issues and character driven – David Neilson and Sally Carman as distraught guardians Roy and Abi have proven once again that they are two of TV’s most powerhouse actors.
And kudos also has to go to the brilliant Mollie Gallagher who has formed Nina into a well developed character straight into the hears ot viewers, Harry Visinoni for nuanced performance and unbelievable chemistry on screen with both Sally and Mollie, Millie Gibson for her desperation to be liked and her helplessness when Kelly is out of her depth, Tanisha Gorey for her portrayal of Asha’s lack of self esteem that has allowed Corey to manipulate her and Maximus Evans for a horrifically realistic and chilling performance as the utterly vile Corey Brent.
Since introducing Nina, Corrie have had this story in mind and laid out the timing, the development and the build up of all characters involved brilliantly – from Corey’s introduction as a sex pest to Asha’s confidence being shattered by a number of things as well as the gorgeous bond between Nina and Roy.
The storyline will explore the world as a hateful place but with some heart still in it – there is both good and evil out there. There is a truly remarkable scene next week between Roy and Evelyn (Maureen Lipman) in which Roy is aghast at the hate in the world and fears Nina losing her identity forever – it is truly BAFTA worthy on its own as a standalone five minute segment of pure, raw drama.
Coming off the back of the utterly astounding coercive control of Geoff against Yasmeen while still maintaining its warm but appropriate for the tone of the episodes humour, Corrie has found its feet again as the top soap and after 60 years, to still be pulling off material that will have its own legacy for years to come is a true feat.
This is the power of soap – and this is why Corrie will always be at the heart of the nation, telling stories we want and need to see, opening discussions about the world and being the constant in all of our lives – in tragic times and happy, horrifying and funny and carefree and gentle.
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