When you think of Coronation Street at Christmas, you tend to think of slapstick humour, turkeys getting chased around the cobbles, Rita Tanner (Barbara Knox) leading a sing song around the piano and the most violent thing taking place being a food fight.
But this year, the soap is bringing a dark end to the festivities when a broken and unhinged Derek Milligan (Craige Els) arms himself with an antique shotgun and goes on a shooting rampage, leaving at least one person dead in a terrifying bloodbath.
Boss Iain MacLeod admitted that the team thought very carefully before pushing ahead with the storyline but has argued that despite the controversial nature, it isn’t beyond what Corrie has tackled in the past.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m aware that the presence of firearms on the Street is a controversial one – it isn’t a decision we took lightly but I just felt there was an interesting side avenue to what Gary had been doing that hadn’t been explored yet. Doing something involving firearms would provide a realistic and truthful pay off to the story about loan sharking and the pressures of poverty and the mental collapse that can cause.
‘It felt motivated and exciting. We wanted to subvert people’s expectations about what they might expect from a Corrie Christmas. While there’s bags of warmth and family nonsense, there’s also that edge of the seat final reel.’
Given the apparent backlash over dark storylines over the years, Iain continued: ‘There is a view that Coronation Street should embrace firearms at its peril – there is of course the infamous scene where Ernie Bishop was shot dead with a shotgun so it’s not like this is the first time we’ve done something like this. Coronation Street and Britain equally has to be cautious about how it portrays violence and not just be seen to be sensationalising it I guess.
‘You always sit down when there is a threat of deadly force and think about if it’s what you want to do but ultimately we thought it was an exciting and right as an evolution of Gary’s story. It felt motivated and exciting rather than gratuitous and unhelpful.
‘Will there be a death? Yes. On other soaps a Christmas Day death is relatively commonplace but less so on Coronation Street but again, anything like that is a tough decision. Killing any character is tough – I am always conscious of the actor and human being who plays that part. You do think long and hard about it. Ultimately actors understand that you want to tell the most exciting storyline. The story justified the outcome.’
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