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|Born||Edgar William Podmore
15 August 1931
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England
|Died||22 January 1994
Cheadle, Stockport, England
|Spouse(s)||Gillian Podmore (separated)|
Edgar William "Bill" Podmore (15 August 1931 – 22 January 1994) was a British television producer. Born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, he was best known for his long association with the soap opera Coronation Street, a series he produced for twelve years (1976–88). This period is now widely regarded as a "golden era" in the programme's history.
Initially a Royal Air Force pilot, he became a TV cameraman for the BBC, shortly after with Granada Television and later, a director. When, as a relatively young man, he was called upon to direct an episode of Coronation Street, Violet Carson (Ena Sharples) with a massive twinkle in her eye, drew herself up to her full height and confronted him - "Hello Bill, welcome...my train leaves at 5.30 p.m.!"
Bill was asked to take over as producer of "the Street" in 1976. Initially he turned the offer down flat. As former Street writer John Stevenson recalled recently in a BBC Radio 2 documentary, "Coronation Street was on a downward slope at the time. Stevenson stated that no-one wanted to work on it, the quality of the scripts had dropped, the storylines were poor and it was becoming something of a joke within the TV industry to have to work on it".
Podmore helped steer the programme back onto an even keel. He referred to this as "re-decoration, not demolition" meaning that he intended to capitalise on the strengths he already had there. Thus the Ogdens became a comedic double act yet again, and Eddie Yeats, who before Podmore's stewardship had been nothing more than a petty thug, became the Ogdens' surrogate son and was revealed to have a heart of gold. Bill brought in new characters, such as Renee Bradshaw, and brought minor characters, such as Fred Gee and Vera Duckworth, to the fore.
However, it was not all plain sailing. In the early 1980s, Peter Dudley was arrested in a Manchester public lavatory for importuning. Podmore, a married man with two children, Hellen and Richard John, stood by Peter steadfastly, insisting that although he was involved in a "shameful" court case in reality, whatever Dudley did in his private life was his own business. Dudley later suffered a stroke caused by the stress of the case, and finally suffering a fatal heart attack after asking to be "written-out" of the show.
Podmore was, however, no easy touch. The cast referred to him as "the Godfather" for he could be very ruthless. In 1980, he killed Renee Roberts off as he considered her marriage to Alf Roberts not working; Podmore was quoted as saying that Alf Roberts was allowed to emerge "from the shadows of a rather humdrum marriage". When Stephen Hancock refused to sign a new contract, Podmore had him killed off, having him shot dead in a bungled wages snatch at Baldwin's factory.
Podmore was also instrumental in the unpopular termination of actor Peter Adamson's contract. Adamson had been suspended from the programme after allegations that he had interfered with two young girls in a Bury (Lancashire, England) swimming pool. Podmore, who had known Adamson for over 20 years was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially after he was found not guilty. But Adamson, faced with cripplingly high legal fees, sold his story to a British national newspaper, giving away personal details about the very people who had stood by him in his darkest hour. Podmore called this "indefensible" and sacked him. In 1988, Podmore settled into retirement, dying in 1994, at Cheadle Royal Hospital.
His memoirs, entitled Coronation Street - The Inside Story, were published in 1990.