I am a stone-cold soap hack, with a heart of ice, and even I welled up as Kylie took her last breaths on the cobbles last night. Poor Mrs Platt had been stabbed by scally Clayton at the kebab shop and in a flash her dreams of leaving Weatherfield for Barbados were as shattered as her celebratory bottle of champagne.
Paula Lane, who played Kylie, was brilliant. She’s always brilliant, but she was especially brilliant in Kylie’s dying moments. Jack P Shepherd, who plays her husband David was also great. And veteran Corrie actor Helen Worth – aka Gail – as Kylie’s hectoring mother-in-law cradling the dying woman’s head in her hands was heartbreaking.
But while the actors tried their very best – and pulled it off, no doubt about it – and the writing was terrific, the clunky plotting let it all down. If, as I was, you were watching those award-worthy performances thinking: “Why hasn’t Craig just phoned the police?” or “hang on, Kylie doesn’t even like Gemma…” or “yeah, right, like the ambulance would take that long to arrive (and this time there wasn’t even a problem on the bypass as there was in the fire at the flats)”… then something’s not right. It’s like they started with a picture of Kylie dying on the cobbles – a great picture, admittedly – and forced the story to fit, when it should have been the other way round.
Some people are snooty about soaps and dismissive but I think they’re amazing. As a writer I’ve learned so much from them. They’re brilliant lessons in plot and character and sustaining drama. Some of my reviews praise the way I keep things going through my books with mini cliffhangers. I accept the praise without admitting I’ve totally just copied that from the EastEnders end-of-episode doof doofs! But I must confess, recently, Corrie’s taught me more about how NOT to do it.
Coronation Street isn’t just a soap. It’s a piece of British history. It’s part of our culture. But it’s fragile and it needs to be looked after. If you’re given the job of caring for it as a while then you need to be really careful not to break it. Sadly, Corrie’s been broken for a while – plot driven instead of character driven as Kylie’s death, and Carla’s exit earlier this summer, really showed. I have massive respect and faith in its new producer Kate Oates (not to mention a big dose of envy for her fabulous shoes), who has taken the reins now and I hope she works her magic and turns things around. Coronation Street – and its band of brilliant actors and writers – deserves it.
The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own.
Kerry is an author and journalist with a passion for storytelling.