Corrie predicted Covid-19 as they planned a pandemic story

We chuck about the now frankly irritating phrases like ‘new normal’ and it has become quite a regular thing to see people staying apart and wearing masks. But rewind a year and no-one could have expected this – with even Coronation Street bosses believing a pandemic storyline would simply be too unrealistic storyline for the audience to swallow.

Believe it or not, one of the pitched ideas for the 60th anniversary was for the Street to be consumed by a pandemic – triggered by pigeons belonging to Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall).

Yep, the soap was on the verge of doing a The Simpsons and predicting the real life events that were to follow.

Producer Iain MacLeod told As a quick aside, you say nobody could have written this but someone actually pitched a story for a global pandemic, which originated in Tyrone’s pigeon loft. He was going to keep them as an homage to Jack and then the disease bird flu-esque disease was going to spread through the cobbles.

‘The consensus was that it was far too far fetched and no-one will buy it so we scrapped it pretty quickly!’

That certainly would have been a difficult storyline change to make after the outbreak of an actual pandemic. And people used to say Brookside jumped the shark with its own Close lockdown!

Discussing the changes made by the pandemic (the real one, not Tyrone’s), Iain added: ‘We had to change a fair amount but the fundamental essence of the stories are still what you will see. We were going to build some stuff and have a few more stunts so we had to jettison that idea.

‘In terms of the story, it has forced us to focus on character, writing and performance – boil them down to the essence. And that’s truer to the original Coronation Street rather than the bells and whistles. The pandemic has pushed the brilliance of what Corrie is front and centre – it’s been an interesting exercise.

‘I started in 2018 and the first email I sent to the writers was what do we do for the 60th, we need to plan it now. For the audience to invest, it needs time to grow naturally.

‘You can’t just suddenly go CRASH and force the audience to care. It’s been more than two years in the making. In terms of the actual production, we ran up storylines six months ago and then two to three months of filming and editing. So many man hours.’

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