Soft-soap 'em

Yorkshire Tyne Tees is taking on 'EastEnders' with a big dollop of Northern feel-good factor.

If you think rape, murder and incest are staple ingredients for a successful prime-time soap - think again. Last week saw the launch of Britain's newest soap, Quayside, a story of upwardly mobile Geordie folk with feel-good factor guaranteed. Storylines that are driven by people not issues are sure to elicit an enthusiastic response, the producers claim.

Meet Mal Shepherd - an ex-footballer now bar owner, just turned 30, and newly engaged to good-time girl and would-be model Nicole, who is 10 years his junior. He shares his smart bungalow with his brother Luke and his mother Joan. Meanwhile, just around the corner from Mal's bar in the fashionable Quayside area of Newcastle, Caitlin Kennedy, 22, is opening a new promotions business - Quay Events. Ambitious and independent, Caitlin is about to receive an unexpected visit from her feckless sister Susie, 25, fresh from a year travelling the world. For the next 17 weeks in the Yorkshire and Tyne Tees regions, they'll be fighting ITV's ground in the hotly contested 7.30pm slot on a Tuesday night - head to head with EastEnders on BBC 1.

"A high-risk strategy" is how Tyne Tees Television director of programmes Peter Mitchell describes it. But it's one that already appears to be paying off. In its first week, overnight ratings show that Quayside won a 39 per cent share of available viewing - a significant improvement on the regional factual fare previously occupying the slot. Meanwhile, EastEnders' share in the region slipped from 60 to 50 per cent.

Throughout the region, London-based EastEnders performs slightly below the national average, while northern-based soaps such as Brookside and Coronation Street do particularly well, Mitchell says. It is a bit of a gamble, he admits. So far, he has spent more than pounds 500,000 on developing Quayside's initial run - a significant amount for a regional production.

Quayside producer/director Matthew Robinson, whose past credits include EastEnders, Coronation Street, and Byker Grove, believes the series' feel- good factor will sell the soap. "Tune in to EastEnders or Emmerdale, and you can get as much sex, Aids and social security fraud as you'd like," he says. "We wanted something unashamedly entertainment-based with charismatic actors instead of gritty realism."

He describes his latest project as "colourful, lively and upbeat" - words sure to bring a smile to the face of Bruce Gyngell, managing director of Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television and self-styled media moralist who earlier this month banned as too smutty Hollywood Lovers, a Carlton TV-produced network series on showbiz love lives that included graphic descriptions of plastic surgery to women's genitalia.

"Viewers want to know that the crap affecting their own lives affects us all," says Diane Maxwell, media strategist at media specialist Michaelides & Bednash. "People love to watch other people's lives". Which is why a fine balance must be achieved between "uppers" and "downers", she cautions.

Only time will tell if the feel-good soap's traditional story-telling skills can triumph over sensational plot twists like plane crashes, hit- men and religious fanatics. Meanwhile, back on Quayside, Caitlin is trying to discover who smashed the window of her new office, while Mal is wondering if he's about to make the biggest mistake of his life...n

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee