Thursday 27 October 2016

How Corrie forced Fair City into a swift exit scene rewrite

Brigie De Courcy speaking at RTE's TV Now, TV Next conference
Brigie De Courcy speaking at RTE's TV Now, TV Next conference

Fair City writers had to think quick and write even quicker when a storyline similar to one they were planning cropped up on Coronation Street.

Fair City executive producer Brigie De Courcy told RTE's TV Now, TV Next advertisers' conference how they wanted to kill off Vivienne Bishop's evil husband Paddy by having him drive his car into the sea.

The storyline was planned six months in advance - but only three weeks before transmission Coronation Street's Richard Hillman did a similar stunt by crashing his car into a canal.

De Courcy admitted it was a hassle to do a rewrite, but they couldn't be accused of running with a copycat storyline.

De Courcy said the key to the soap's success is all in the preparation.

As many as 40 freelance writers are hired, with 250 cast members, crew and a production team working year round. As De Courcy says, it's relentless storytelling.

The team works 18 months ahead of an episode going to air. Detailed story planning is six months before transmission - or, as they say on set, TX.

Domestic violence in soaps needs to be handled with extreme care. They must take into account where the abuse starts and ends.

Eighty scenes are shot every week. Each episode has four stories of varying lengths, so that's 800 stories a year.

"We can't have the next Tarantino," De Courcy says, "we want a soap writer."

Scripts must be emotional and energetic, taking people through life's trials.

With more than 467,000 viewers, the audience equates to six Croke Parks. Fans are loyal and clued-in to storylines. If they see an actor coughing on Monday, they reckon he may be dead by the end of the week.

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