Alison Pennells is a scriptwriter, playwright, novelist and script consultant from Leeds

female script consultant

Emmerdale and Coronation Street in scheduling change – how does this affect the scriptwriters? – Female Script Consultant UK

Emmerdale and Coronation Street in scheduling change – how does this affect the scriptwriters?

As a female script consultant, I worked on ITV soap Emmerdale for three or four years – I started as a storyline writer after being talented spotted by producer Kieran Roberts.  Then after a period working in the story team I moved onto the writing team proper and wrote 25 episodes over two years on the core writing team of the show.

Female Script consultant

I spotted in the news this weeks that there’s a scheduling change for the soaps on ITV – Coronation Street and Emmerdale are moving around the schedules in an ITV shake up – ITV said this new “super soap” scheduling means live TV viewers of Coronation Street and Emmerdale “can get their soap fix back-to-back”.

When I started work on Emmerdale the show was four days a week – and I was part of the team that helped the show transition to five days a week. 

Five episodes a week of scripted drama is a LOT of work – but it makes sense for the broadcasters, because soaps are usually very organised and well oiled machines production wise, and it’s pretty straightforward for them to ramp up for extra episodes – indeed, as we approach Christmas each year – the soap productions will go into overdrive to make/shoot double the amount of episodes for a few weeks – so that the shows can shut down production over Christmas – in soaps this is called double banking.

Moving Emmerdale to five shows per week (and since I left it has often been six episodes a week). Is good news in some respects – its more money for the writers, actors, and crew – and more shows for the viewers. But, some argue that it does dilute the storylines and stretch out the drama.

When people look back at the Golden Age of the soaps – Coronation Street with Stan and Hilda, Eastenders with Dirty Den serving divorce papers on Christmas day, Emmerdale with the Tate’s acting like a Yorkshire version of Dynasty (and Brookside with all its famous moments) all these ‘Golden era’ moments and storylines happened while the shows only ran with two episodes a week.

That might help illustrate that extending soaps to five, six or seven episodes a week does dilute the content – but on the other hand, the Golden Era of soaps happened when TV itself only had four or five channels – there was no Netflix or Amazon (or even an internet).

The shake up by ITV means soap fans will now get back to back episodes some nights – an hour of pure soap might be fun for some fans, but it’s worth remembering that the death knell of CH4 soap Brookside started when Channel Four started moving the show around the schedule and experimenting with the best viewing times for the show.

Soap fans by nature are creatures of habit. Moving the time slots cam upset the natural equilibrium of viewers – like moving the kick-off of a regular football match.  Brookside began to die when the time it was broadcast began to chop and change.

I really enjoyed my time writing for soaps and I hope to share more thoughts about my time on Emmerdale right here on my blog – so keep checking back.

Alison Pennells is a scriptwriter, playwright, novelist, female script consultant and producer from Leeds. Alison was a core scriptwriter on Emmerdale and The Royal Today. Her short film ‘Me Head’s a Shed’ was winner of The Yorkshire Short film award. Her play ‘Dirty Laundry’ has been a huge success and raised much needed funds for cancer charities across the UK. In recent years Alison has worked as a female script consultant and producer on three feature films. Alison is married, has a daughter, three doggies and no cats (at the moment).

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