Coronation Street boss expects controversy over Christmas gun siege

“It isn’t a decision we took lightly” says producer Iain MacLeod

Coronation Street Gary Windass

Coronation Street’s big Christmas 2019 storyline is a terrifying armed siege on the cobbles that claims the lives of at least one local and leaves the community reeling in horror.

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Gary Windass’ old enemy Derek Milligan seeks revenge on the loan shark he blames for ruining his life and goes on a drunken rampage, armed with an antique rifle he finds at the furniture shop.

It’s a bold move for the Street and certainly one of the most uncharacteristically violent festive set pieces they’ve ever undertaken. Surely loaded guns and potential massacres are more the domain of rival soap EastEnders, synonymous with seasonal carnage?

“I’m aware that the presence of firearms on the street is a controversial one,” Corrie producer Iain MacLeod told RadioTimes.com. “It isn’t a decision we took lightly. But I just felt there was an interesting side avenue to Gary’s storyline about what he’d been doing that hadn’t been explored.

“Doing something involving firearms would provide a realistic and truthful payoff to the story about loan sharking and the pressures of poverty, plus 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 is bags of warmth and family nonsense, there’s also that edge of the seat final reel.”

As MacLeod points out it’s not always cosy humour on the cobbles, with one particularly harrowing plot line coming to mind: Ernie Bishop’s death.

coronation street Christmas 2019

“There is of course the infamous scene (from 1978) where Ernie Bishop was shot dead so it’s not like this is the first time we’ve done something like this,” MacLeod said.

“Corrie, and this country equally, has to be cautious about how it portrays violence and not be seen to sensationalise it. We thought about it and decided it was right as an evolution of Gary’s story, not gratuitous.”

Addressing the upcoming character death, the identity of whom remains a closely-guarded secret until 25thDecember, MacLeod said: “A Christmas Day death is relatively commonplace on other soaps but less so on Corrie.

“It’s a tough decision. I am always conscious of the actor and human being who plays that part, but actors ultimately understand you want to tell the most exciting storyline. This story justified the outcome.”

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