(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog in March, 2010, reposted to this blog with permission. There's a SPOILER in the last paragraph)
If you've ever wondered how Coronation Street gets its storylines to adhere to the law, wonder no more. Barrister Paul Dockery of Manchester's 18 St John Street Chambers is the adviser to Coronation Street’s script writers on the legal aspects of the show.
Paul said: “It all started about six years ago when I was chatting to my friend [Coronation Street archivist] Helen Nugent,” he relates. “It was the day after Les Battersby was in court and I was passing comment on some factual inaccuracies and she said they’d call me in for the next large legal story.”
Since then he's has been called upon to advise on some of Corrie's biggest storylines involving a string of murderers, kidnap and several assaults. Most recently he's helped scriptwriters on the saga facing Gail, who is facing trial for the murder of her husband Joe. “Everybody wants to know whether Gail gets convicted,” says Dockery. “Even judges in the magistrates’ court have asked me that question, but I can’t say.”
A perk of being the show’s legal adviser is that Dockery gets to appear as an extra. The first time he appeared on the soap he sat between characters Cilla Battersby and Norris Cole in the court gallery; in a later appearance he told Gail that her son must face trial for pushing her down the stairs. His first speaking part came when Corrie bad girl Tracy Barlow was sentenced to life for the murder of her boyfriend Charlie Stubbs. Tracy will reappear in the show in May as Gail’s cellmate.
“That would never happen in real life,” Paul says. “Gail’s on remand and Tracy has a life sentence, so they wouldn’t end up sharing a cell.”