The soap is breaking with tradition for a forthcoming instalment focusing on Carla’s mental health struggles
Coronation Street producer Iain MacLeod has lifted the lid on the forthcoming episode devoted to Carla Connor’s mental health breakdown, and promised that a variety of special effects will help draw viewers into Carla’s mindset.
The soap boss is no stranger to experimenting with formats, and won plaudits during his time in charge of Emmerdale for a ground breaking episode that showed the world through the eyes of dementia-stricken vicar Ashley Thomas. But this is the first time he has used similar techniques in Coronation Street.
Speaking of the special instalment, which will air on 31st May, he reveals: “We’ve given it a more cinematic feel with the lighting and colouring of the pictures, to conjure a mood consistent with Carla’s unravelling mental state. It’s also a single-strand episode, which means we’ve ditched the normal way of structuring the scenes.
“We won’t be cutting to other stories to convey the passing of time – we will just follow Carla, jumping forward through time where needed, like in a movie.
“The director has also cleverly found ways to allow the viewer to visualise Carla’s paranoid delusions; to experience the world through her eyes. It’s really engrossing and moving.”
MacLeod continues: “What works best is when the unusual feel of an episode emerges organically from the story. It has to feel earned or people will think it’s weirdness for weirdness’ sake. The Ashley dementia episode I did on Emmerdale was a good example of when it works well – it was strange, but that was by far the best way of taking the viewer into the character’s head. Same applies here, I hope!”
Carla’s mental health has been in decline since the Underworld roof collapsed in March, claiming the life of her cousin Kate’s fiancé, Rana. The businesswoman blamed herself for the tragedy, as she had previously been warned by Gary Windass that the roof needed completely replacing, but had instructed the builder to do a cheap patch job, instead.
A subsequent investigation has since revealed that the roof was deliberately sabotaged. Carla, meanwhile has been gripped by paranoia. She is now living in Roy’s flat with Peter, but scenes next week will reveal that she has been failing to take her medication. And, after bolting from the flat, she will suffer from severe psychosis and “see” her late friend Hayley Cropper, along with late residents Rana and Aidan.
MacLeod is keeping tight-lipped as to whether actors Bhavna Limbachia, Shayne Ward and Julie Hesmondhalgh will be putting in appearances but is confident that the drama will pack a punch.
“It’s about giving the audience something dramatic, characterful and engrossing,” he says. “And if watching this gives people a greater understanding of psychosis as well, sparking some conversation, that can only be a good thing. We all need to talk about mental health more openly.”