(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in July 2015.)
A couple of days ago, Our Glorious Leader Flaming Nora wrote a conjectural piece. She wondered if Corrie was gaining a sixth episode a week, based on the somewhat odd scheduling for the next couple of weeks.
Oh no, I thought. Surely they can't spread this treat any thinner?
But then I had a brainwave. Yes, I thought. Let's have an extra episode a week. And let's make it nothing to do with the rest of the show.
A soap "bubble" is a spin-off that exists outside the continuing storylines but involves the same characters. Brookside pioneered it, as it did for so much of British continuing drama, releasing tie-in videos in which, say, Lindsay Corkhill would be kidnapped and spend a weekend battling armed villains to escape.
I'm not suggesting anything as melodramatic for the Street. Instead, how about a Sunday night playlet? Every weekend, just a small episode following a couple of characters on a single set. Cheap. Quick. Easy.
Imagine, for example, Sally Webster has invited the Nazirs around for dinner. For half an hour, we watch her getting increasingly hysterical and shrill as she tries to make an Asian feast for six people, while Tim is of no use whatsoever. In fact, Tim is trying to stay well away, but she keeps pulling him back in.
Or half an hour of Rita and Norris in the Kabin, just talking. Nothing else. Perhaps Rita makes a comment about the cover model on a copy of Chit-Chat and the episode flows from there. And after half an hour, we go away and leave them to it.
How about Kylie and David watching a terrible film on TV, and providing a running commentary? Fiz and Tyrone struggling to put together a flat pack bed for Hope? Eileen and Steve on a quiet night in the cab office? Kevin on a terrible blind date in the Bistro? Audrey and Maria doing a stock check in the hairdressers with a bottle of white wine to keep them going? Craig having his tea in the kebab shop when Chesney's on duty?
They wouldn't all have to be funny. Imagine if Roy and Cathy sat in his flat and quietly told each other about their dead partners and how much they loved them. It'd be heartbreaking. Or if there was a large event in the show - like the recent fire - you could take two peripheral characters and show how it affected them. Not something big, like Sophie coming to terms with the death of Maddie; something smaller, like Beth and Kirk missing their friend who has died, wondering how Mrs Connor is, wondering when the factory will reopen.
It'd also have the virtue of being relatively cheap. You could even get in guest writers, perhaps up and comers auditioning for the real show, or famous guest writers allowed to play with their favourite characters for a week. I imagine people like Russell T Davies and Paul Abbott would love to write for the Street again, just as a one off.
If we're going to have a sixth episode - make it bubbly!
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