Brian Park

Brian Park was the producer of Coronation Street from March 1997 to December 1998.

Park was brought in when Coronation Street was going through a period of struggle; the show's ratings were trailing badly behind EastEnders especially in the London area and the programme was gaining an image in the press as being old-fashioned compared to its rival on the BBC. Park was given a specific brief by ITV and Granada to do whatever he could to turn the show around. Park, who hadn't watched the show since the 1960s, agreed with some aspects of the press's image of the show and came in ready to implement some drastic changes.

On his first day in the job, Park axed several characters including Don Brennan, Andy McDonald and Maureen Holdsworth upon learning that they were kept around by the writers simply due to a fondness of them rather than any interesting storylines. His most shocking axing was that of Derek Wilton, played by Peter Baldwin, who had been in the show for over twenty years (Park chose to do so as Thelma Barlow had recently handed in her resignation and it was felt Derek wouldn't work without Mavis) and ended up leaving the street in a coffin after having a heart attack following a road rage incident. As a result, he gained a reputation in the press as for being an "axeman".

With departures, however, came arrivals. Don Brennan's house had been repossessed by the council and used to home the Battersbys, a problem family designed by Park to shake things up on the street. The family's first few episodes showed them at their worst; daughters Leanne and Toyah played their stereo loudly all day disturbing other residents while their dad Les was violent and quick to anger (which Curly Watts learned to his cost in a memorable scene where he manically threw the stereo out of a window). Although many viewers initially disliked the newcomers, Park (who had not actually conceived the family, this being done before his arrival) defended them reminding people the Ogdens were considered rough when they moved in.

Another notable new arrival was Hayley Patterson, the first ever transgender character in a British TV soap opera, who soon developed a relationship with Roy Cropper (who Park was keen to give more focus to). Other memorable storylines conceived under Park included Deirdre Rachid being sent to prison despite being innocent after falling in love with a fraudster and the newly arrived Natalie Horrocks luring Kevin Webster into an affair which destroyed his previously happy marriage to Sally.

Although drastic, these changes did indeed turn the show's fortunes around and Coronation Street improved significantly in the ratings. Feeling he had done what he'd intended to do, Park chose not to renew his contract and left the show in April 1998. After leaving, he set up Shed Productions and has been Executive Producer on Bad Girls, Footballers' Wives and Rock Rivals.

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