Coronation Street producer Kate Oates has left the ITV soap following a controversial two years at the helm.
The show boss – whose storylines included Pat Phelan’s reign of terror and the sexual exploitation of Bethany Platt – will be replaced by current Emmerdale producer Iain MacLeod.
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 has accepted that her plotlines have split the audience.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com back in February, the 38-year-old said: “I realise that, at the moment, Corrie is divisive. I love the old-school viewers because they’re key to our audience.
“But the audience is changing – the dynamic needs to move and shift. It’s all about keeping current with what people want. As long as we cater for everyone in the mix, then I think we’re doing OK.”
But broadcaster and long-time fan Michael Parkinson wrote in RT that the Phelan storyline in particular had been a turn-off, commenting:
“I never imagined I would recoil from watching Coronation Street, but the storyline of the kidnapping and torture of Andy and Vinny and their brutal murder by Pat Phelan had little to do with that gentle, funny reminder of life in the North Country I discovered and so admired in the early 1960s when I joined Granada Television.”
However, episodes broadcast in late March, in which Phelan’s crimes were exposed, saw Coronation Street net its highest viewing figures in three years. Consolidated figures gave Corrie 9.38 million viewers, its largest audience grab since September 2015.
Coronation Street also won Best Soap and Continuing Drama at this year’s Royal Television Society Awards back in March.
Oates is set to take over producer duties on ITV cop drama Bancroft, which stars Sarah Parish. Speaking about her exit from Corrie, she said: “Being a part of Coronation Street has quite simply been one of the best experiences of my life.
“I am proud of the stories we have told and the impact they have had – and I’ve had a ball working with one of the best and most talented teams in television.
“I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity and all it has given me; but I’m also excited to try something new. I can’t wait to make a start on Bancroft, working with the brilliant Sarah Parish – and I’ll continue to love watching both ITV soaps from the comfort of my sofa.”
Iain MacLeod – whose time at Emmerdale has seen the soap scoop both Bafta and National Television Awards – will now make the move across the Pennines to take over from her in June. Speaking today, MacLeod said:
“Working on Emmerdale at a time when it’s enjoyed such success has been a total joy and I will miss the people and the place immensely – it’s a special show full of huge talent.
“Only Corrie could have tempted me away. It gave me my first job in TV as an assistant researcher many years ago and to be returning as producer is the fulfilment of a longstanding dream. It’ll be like a reunion with an old friend and I look forward to continuing the amazing work already being done by everyone connected with the show.”
Former ITV drama commissioner Jane Hudson has been appointed Emmerdale’s executive producer, with Kate Brooks and Laura Shaw to take on the roles of producer.
You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s drama on Coronation Street below. Beneath that, there’s our Week in Weatherfield review show