Coronation Street producer Kate Oates has spoken out in support of her predecessor Stuart Blackburn, admitting that it can be "tough running a big show", but that she thought Stuart did "a great job".
Stuart, who was executive producer of the ITV soap from 2013 until earlier this year, came under fire from many of the soap's fans who thought that much of Corrie's humour had been lost owing to some very dramatic and serious high-profile storylines.
During Stuart's tenure on the show, Michelle Keegan's Tina McIntyre was killed by Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis), drug dealer Callum Logan (Sean Ward) terrorised the Platt family and most recently, Kylie Platt - played by Paula Lane - was murdered on the cobbles and died in the arms of her husband, David Platt (Jack P Shepherd).
Asked if she thought the ITV soap was 'lacklustre' before she began working on it earlier this year, Kate replied: "No... Stuart won loads of awards with it. I think he's rightly really proud of loads of the stories.
"When I arrived here and it was Kylie's death, I just thought that was phenomenal stuff, really moving drama. It was because of that, that I got to do the story that I'm doing now. It's not like I arrived and thought: 'Where's all the story?'."
Speaking to press at a Coronation Street event in central Manchester, she added: "And also I know what it's like, it's tough running a big show sometimes so I think he did a great job."
This is the second time that Kate has taken over as executive producer of a soap from Stuart.
Previously the executive producer of Emmerdale, Stuart left the soap in 2012 while Kate took over in the Dales in the autumn of the same year. History repeated four years later as Stuart left Coronation Street and Kate was brought in to Weatherfield.
During the press event, she also teased some upcoming storylines in Coronation Street.
Commenting on Pat Phelan's nastiness and whether actor Connor McIntyre would realistically be able to stay in the show for the long-term owing to the shelf life of soap baddies being notoriously short, Kate said: "That's true, there is often a shelf life with villainy but it depends on the journey we take him on.
"We may see moments of vulnerability, we may see him get quite a lot darker. I think you can be quite surprised when you look back at certain soap history and how long certain villains can live. It depends what you learn within the show, I think.
"The viewer does want a sense of justice but justice can be metered out in a different kind of way sometimes. So it's certainly a story with a decent arc to it."
She also spoke about Helen Flanagan's return as Rosie Webster, stating that it would cause "a lot of headaches" for sister Sophie Webster (Brooke Vincent) and said she was "excited" about the return of Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) who comes back to the soap this month after a two-year absence.
Meanwhile Toyah Battersby, who originally joined the show in 1997 and left in 2003, is not coming back for Leanne Barlow's baby but instead for "reasons all of her own," Kate revealed.