Coronation Street Live (2010 episode)

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"Episode 7487"
Coronation Street episode
Episode no. Episode 7487
Directed by Tony Prescott
Written by Jan McVerry
Produced by Phil Collinson
Original air date 9 December 2010 (2010-12-09)
Running time 60 minutes (including adverts)
Episode chronology
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"Episode 7488"

Coronation Street Live is a live episode of the British soap opera Coronation Street, which was first broadcast on Thursday 9 December 2010 on ITV1. The special live edition was to celebrate fifty years of the programme being on air. The sixty-minute episode was directed by Tony Prescott, who had directed the soap's 40th anniversary live episode in December 2000. The episode, the 7487th in the series, was written by Jan McVerry and produced by Phil Collinson for ITV Studios. It was filmed at the Granada Studios complex in Manchester.

To celebrate the show's 50th anniversary, episodes had been broadcast every day during the week 6–10 December 2010 under the advertisement banner "Four Funerals and a Wedding". An episode broadcast the preceding Monday showed a gas explosion in local bar The Joinery, causing a tram to crash from the viaduct into the Corner Shop and The Kabin opposite. The live episode continued to depict the aftermath of the accident, such as the rescue attempts and deaths of the characters Ashley Peacock and Molly Dobbs, an emergency marriage between Peter Barlow and Leanne Battersby, Fiz Stape giving birth prematurely to her daughter Hope and Molly's revelation to Sally Webster that her husband Kevin fathered Molly's recently born baby.

The episode attracted an average of 14 million viewers, peaking at 15.9 million, the show's highest audience for seven years. Critical reception was mainly positive. According to Daniel Kilkelly of the Digital Spy website the opening of the episode featured the first computer-generated imagery in live television.[dubious ] Jennie McAlpine (who plays Fiz Stape) also became the first actress ever to act out a birth live on a soap opera.

Plot summary[edit]

The special anniversary was marked with a storyline in which the residents had to deal with a tragic accident and its aftermath. In the storyline, Nick Tilsley and Leanne Battersby's bar - The Joinery - explodes during Peter Barlow's stag party. As a result, the viaduct running above the restaurant is destroyed, sending a tram careering onto the street, destroying D&S Alahan's Corner Shop and The Kabin. Two characters, Ashley Peacock and Molly Dobbs, and an unnamed taxi driver are killed as a result of the disaster. Rita Sullivan survives despite being trapped under the rubble of her destroyed shop, while Fiz Stape prematurely gives birth to a baby girl, Hope, after her husband John strikes his stalker Charlotte Hoyle with a hammer to silence her. He later poses as Colin Fishwick, Charlotte's supposed partner, attempting to turn off her life support. Peter Barlow marries Leanne in an emergency hospital ceremony, shortly before going into cardiac arrest, although he later rallies and makes a slow recovery.

Production[edit]

Origins[edit]

Early episodes of Coronation Street were broadcast live. A live episode was produced in December 2000 to celebrate the programme's 40th anniversary. As the show's 50th anniversary approached, speculation began to grow as to whether another live edition would be broadcast, particularly after rival soap EastEnders aired its own live edition to celebrate its 25th anniversary on air in February 2010. In April 2010 William Roache, who has portrayed Ken Barlow since the show's first episode, said that ITV would not be airing another live edition of Coronation Street, saying, "We're not going to do a live episode, we did that in the Millennium year [the show's 40th anniversary], we don't want to do that again."[1] Reflecting upon the 2000 episode in November 2010, Roache said that he was glad when it was over and that that "they won't do that again". He joked "anyone who said that they enjoyed the live episode are either not telling the truth or they're masochists."[2] However, on 29 August actor Keith Duffy said that Coronation Street would air a live episode to celebrate its 50th anniversary,[3] something which was confirmed on 1 September by ITV.[4] It was later confirmed that the episode would be aired as part of a week long celebration of the soap's 50th birthday. Phil Collinson, who had only recently taken over as producer, explained:

I thought we wouldn't go live, but quickly realised we should. I think we can deliver the most spectacular piece of live television people have ever seen. Coronation Street has such a heritage - the first episodes were filmed that way, and we did it ten years ago. My ambition is for the episode to be like a disaster movie with stunts. It'll be action-packed. I want people to sit at home and think, 'There's no way they did that live, not in a million years!'[5]

The anniversary was celebrated with a storyline involving an explosion in The Joinery, causing a tram to crash from the viaduct into the Kabin and Corner Shop. The storyline was a sign that TV shows now have to strive harder to make an impact, according to producer Phil Collinson. "Television has changed. Programmes like Coronation Street have to stand up against massive pieces of event television like Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. So we had to do something extraordinary. When drama pushes the boat out, it has to push it out really far. I think the days are over when television drama can sit back and leave it to your imagination. We have to compete against those great big juggernauts."[6] The tram crashed during an episode broadcast on Monday 6 December, with episodes later that week, including the live episode, depicting the rescues and aftermath.

Filming[edit]

The Coronation Street exterior set surrounded by the Granada Studios complex and Manchester city centre (photographed in Oct 2007).

The live show involved 65 actors and a 300-strong crew.[6] The episode opened with a wide shot of other streets in the fictional Weatherfield, reported by Digital Spy's Daniel Kilkelly to have been the first computer-generated imagery to be produced live.[7] In reality, the Coronation Street set is surrounded by the Granada Television complex in Manchester city centre. The special effect was produced by The Mill, the post-production company that had worked on the tram crash. Collinson had worked with The Mill during his tenure as producer of Doctor Who.

The episode was directed by Tony Prescott, who had directed the 40th anniversary live episode in December 2000. Prescott also directed the two episodes surrounding this live episode to gain some continuity.[8]

The live episode provided some challenges for dressing the set. The other episodes during the 50th anniversary week, including the tram crash, were filmed in October. As episodes are usually filmed weeks in advance, the tram had to be removed from sight for the filming of the Christmas and New Year episodes, and then put back in place over the weekend 4–5 December in time for rehearsals and transmission.[8] Also, the cast and crew had to deal with extreme cold on the outdoor set during the days of rehearsals and broadcast as the UK was plunged into record levels of cold weather for the time of year.[9]

The producers reportedly banned the actors from drinking alcohol for 24 hours before the transmission to reduce the chances of accidents. Producers also banned the sweepstake that some cast members were running to bet on who would "fluff" their lines first.[10]

The Sun false story[edit]

On the day of transmission, tabloid newspaper The Sun published a front-page headline "Al-Qaeda Corrie Threat", with a banner reading "Exclusive: Soap Terror Alert". The story suggested that "Cops are throwing a ring of steel around tonight's live episode of Coronation Street over fears it has been targeted by [terrorist group] Al-Qaeda."[11] Later that morning, however, Greater Manchester Police issued a statement saying that they "have categorically not been made aware of any threat from Al-Qaeda or any other proscribed organisation."[12] The statement said that Granada had approached the police to assist a private security firm to help ensure that the "live programme went ahead without outside interference", but "to reiterate there is no specific intelligence threat to Coronation Street or any such event"[12] The Sun published a correction on 28 December, admitting "that while cast and crew were subject to full body searches, there was no specific threat from Al-Qaeda as we reported."[13] The Guardian pointed out that the apology had been negotiated by the Press Complaints Commission.[14]

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The hour-long episode averaged 14.03 million viewers (52.1%), peaking at 14.9 million. It was the most-watched episode of the series in seven years, and drew an additional 2.04 million viewers (14.1%) when repeated at 10.35 pm. Viewing figures did not surpass those of "EastEnders Live", a live episode of the BBC soap opera EastEnders watched by 16.6 million viewers in February 2010. Following the live broadcast, the second part of a two-part documentary, Coronation Street: 50 Years, 50 Moments, averaged 6.81 million viewers (27.2%).[15]

Live episodes are prone to mishaps and actors fluffing their lines.[16] This episode was commended for how smoothly is seemed to have gone. Critic Mark Lawson commented that "the producers were clever in setting every scene among characters under stress or grief, so any flapping might have been taken as acting."[16] The only mistake that the press pointed out was the character Sally Webster being allowed into the wreckage of Dev's shop without a safety helmet.[17]

EastEnders, the Street's biggest rival, supported the anniversary by having its character Dot Branning reveal that she is a massive Corrie fan, although another character, Kat Moon complained that she'd "rather watch a lot of dirty laundry going round".[16]

The Live episode along with all the 50th Anniversary episodes and also included special features. which inluced: • The Making of Anniversary week,• The Filming of the tram crash,• The filming of the Live episode,• Tram Crash News Flash (dramatised ITV News),• Farewell Ashley,• Richard Arnold Blog ' What's Next For The Websters',• Ken Barlow - A Life On The Street,• 50 Years Of Corrie Stunts hosted by Craig Charles. were released on DVD by ITV Home Entertainment, as a two disc set on 21 February 2011. [18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Millar, Paul (5 April 2010). "Bill Roache rules out live Corrie special". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Richard Bacon (17 November 2010). "Daily Bacon: Coronation Street". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pstlg (Podcast). BBC Radio 5Live. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Daniels, Colin (29 August 2010). "Duffy: 'Corrie will go live for 50th'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Love, Ryan (1 September 2010). "'Coronation Street' confirms live episode". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (19 October 2010). "Corrie producer reveals live ep plans". Digital Spy. 
  6. ^ a b "Live drama marks Coronation Street's 50th anniversary". BBC News. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  7. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (9 December 2010). "Phil Collinson (Producer, Corrie)". Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Coronation Street: The Live (Flash). itv.com. 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2010/december.html
  10. ^ "Coronation Street stars get alcohol ban before tram crash live episode". Metro. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  11. ^ The Sun, 9 Dec 2010, News Corporation
  12. ^ a b "Police dismiss report of Al Qaeda threat to Coronation Street". This is Lancashire. 20110-12-09. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  13. ^ "Coronation Street". The Sun (News Corporation). 28 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  14. ^ Greenslade, Roy (29 December 2010). "The Sun admits publishing false story". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  15. ^ Plunkett, John (10 December 2010). "Coronation Street live show draws show's biggest audience for seven years". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Lawson, Mark (10 December 2010). "Coronation Street live episode – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  17. ^ "Coronation Street live: practically perfect apart from Sally slip-up?". STV.tv. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-03. 
  18. ^ "Coronation Street: Tram Crash [DVD] [2011]". Amazon UK. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2013.