Coronation Street producer Kate Oates has addressed recent press stories that a spate of hard-hitting storylines on the ITV soap led to her resignation.
Tabloids quoted a source on the show who claimed that Oates was “jumping before she was pushed” when she announced in late April that she was standing down as show boss.
Now, talking about the controversy surrounding Corrie and her own exit, Oates told RadioTimes.com: “I’m sad they were conflated because from my point of view – and the point of view of my bosses – that genuinely wasn’t the case.
“Anyone who thinks that I pay too much attention to controversy hasn’t been looking at the way I work and what I do. It’s pretty clear that I don’t cave easily. I love my job and I’ve been so privileged to do it. And I know that I’ll look back on this period of my life and be choked by how lucky I’ve been to do it.
“I come out feeling robust and hungry for the next thing.”
Oates’s tenure has proved divisive for Corrie fans, with murder scenes featuring Phelan resulting in 541 viewers registering concern with Ofcom.
The broadcasting regulator ultimately decided that Coronation Street was not in breach, but Oates herself has been a visible presence in the media defending both Phelan’s plotline and the current drama involving David Platt and his rape by local mechanic Josh.
Asked how she felt about her experience with the press, Oates said: “I could have avoided it if I’d wanted to – plenty of producers don’t want to talk to the press and that’s completely fine. But it’s given me the chance to explain things and put the storylines into context.
“In theory, drama shouldn’t have to explain itself. It should exist on its own merits. But, sometimes, it’s nice to explain where we’re coming from and what we hope to achieve. The experience has been a bit of a surprise, but I’m very well supported and it’s taught me a lot about resilience.
“I feel a little bit tougher than I did two years ago and that’s OK – I understand that it’s part of the game. I’ve gone from being very thin skinned to being much thicker skinned.”
Speaking about her move away from soap and into prime time drama, where she’ll be helming the second series of police drama Bancroft, Oates said: “I think there’ll be a lot less interest in me and that’s no bad thing.
“When Iain MacLeod [Oates’s successor] is here, he’ll have the same kind of thing and I imagine he’ll handle it brilliantly. But, as I say, it is a luxury to be able to speak publicly and clarify things. It is a double-edged sword, but I’m happy with that.”
And it seems that her experience at Corrie has not put Oates off the prospect of returning to soapland at some point in the future. Asked whether she’d ever consider producing a soap again, Oates replied:
“Absolutely. I do love the reach of soap – the fact that important stories like Aidan’s upcoming suicide can potentially go out to nine million people. I absolutely would work on soap again because I love the pace and how people talk about it.
“I feel very comfortable in it – I understand it and I like the people who who work in it. So of course.”