Coronation Street's new executive producer Iain MacLeod has defended predecessor Kate Oates against claims the soap became too gloomy under her stewardship.
Former Emmerdale boss Iain insisted to Metro that while long-running storylines such as Pat Phelan murderous reign of terror, the grooming of Bethany Platt and rape of David Platt may have been "challenging" for viewers, they were also winners in the ratings.
And he also pointed out the Manchester-based soap has a history of dealing with "hard-hitting" issues throughout it’s near 60 year history.
Hailing Kate - who is now in charge over at EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty - as an "extraordinarily talented" storyteller, Iain conceded soap fans may not always prefer watching "massively socially important stories" over more lighter moments.
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"That’s not perhaps the reason people tune into Coronation Street, but it shouldn’t be sniffed at and the viewing figures speak for themselves," he said.
But Iain also praised the tough plots for engaging audiences, getting reactions and being socially responsible.
There's a risk that we look back and have this nostalgic view that Corrie’s always been people wittering over the fence
He also recalled how Weatherfield portrayed suicide back in 1963 and the kidnapping of Val Barlow, as well as representations of train crashes and the sexual assault of Deirdre Barlow as evidence of the soap’s more serious side.
Iain continued: "There’s a risk that we look back and have this nostalgic view that Corrie’s always been people wittering over the fence.
"When actually, it’s always been quite challenging really. So, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
"The key is to achieve a balance really which I think is the main thing I’m keen to do which is when we do go into those darker areas, all those more hard-hitting, grittier areas."
Adding viewers were unlikely to see a "radically different" change in the soap’s tone when he is fully bedded in from around December onwards, Iain completely rejected accusations that Kate storylines were "too dark".
"It’ll be as it’s always been on Corrie, evolution from one phase to the next and only an idiot would come in and let’s turn it into something different, let’s rip up the rule book or try and try and somehow change the DNA of the show," he said.
- Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm and 8.30pm on ITV
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