The current Coronation Street producer Stuart Blackburn described as ‘cobblers’ the notion that soaps are a breeding ground for talent. He countered: “They’re where the talent goes to!”

He made the comment at a Royal Television Society event which attempted to analyse the secret of Corrie’s 55 years of continual popularity. In recent years, Corrie has had multiple murders, deaths and suicides, explosions, a minibus crash, a pre-teen pregnancy, a gay vicar and, in September, another live episode, marking 60 years of ITV.

Blackburn, who is leaving his role on Corrie early next year, told the audience: “What’s special about Corrie? It’s the mix of high drama, romance and the comedy.”

The former ITV Director of Entertainment and Comedy Paul Jackson added: “With every respect to all the other soaps, they don’t have the humour that Corrie has always had.”

But the comedy had to be ‘believable’, said Blackburn. “I’m always wary of broad comedy that turns into farce or pantomime.”

He then said the idea that soaps were a breeding ground for future talent was ‘cobblers… It’s where the great talent comes to!’

Jackson told the audience at the RTS event: “Don’t be snobby about soaps.”

He praised the quality of ‘the writing and performances that are turned in week in, week out.’

Corrie star Tina O’Brien, who plays Sarah Platt, agreed: “With a show like Coronation Street you never feel that you’re coasting… I constantly feel like I’ve got to try and up my game.”

Another panelist, John Whiston, who is ITV’s Creative Director, Serial Dramas, argued that Corrie’s success was largely due to the fact it hadn’t strayed from the blueprint of ‘strong women and feckless men’ which was established by its creator Tony Warren 55 years ago.

Jackson asked Blackburn if Corrie fans would need their hankies this Christmas.

There would be no more deaths, promised Blackburn, adding: “We’re going to have a happy Christmas – I think we deserve it.”

 Watch highlights of The Secret of Soaps: