I know this is going to be ‘one of those weeks”, so I prepare for the oncoming storm in the time-honoured way – drinking a bottle of wine on Sunday night, after going to see an actor friend in a play and then getting to bed about two hours too late. Arrive on Monday morning to find Nick, the video editor from production company Evolve, waiting for me. Next Monday we’re having a launch in Manchester to open voting in the 2008 Inside Soap Awards, so we’re editing various exciting soap clips to music. While Nick works at my meeting table, I chip in with ideas between reading pages and emails. By lunchtime, the whole office never wants to hear our chosen tune – Reverend And The Makers’ He Said He Loved Me – ever again. The rest of the day is spent reading copy, pages and the forward soap storylines that are piling up.
To add to this week’s fun, there’s a new Inside Soap website launching next Tuesday. Like many old-fashioned, print-based hacks, I’ve been determined to keep all this website gubbins well and truly at arm’s length. But there comes a time when – rather like with my fast-disappearing hairline – you have to accept that you can’t hold back the tide. So, I jump in feet first – well, if ‘feet first’means reading reams of emails full of terms I don’t understand. Our lovely colleagues at Digital Spy, who are building the website, are ever-so patient as they answer my inane questions.
Later, there’s the weekly flat-plan meeting, to decide where the various episodic ‘action’photos released by the soaps for this week should be positioned. Is Corrie’s Liz McDonald catfighting with love rival Clarissa Mason better than ‘Enders’ Roxy Mitchell in Eighties’ wedding dress marrying wild-haired Sean Slater? It’s a close call.
Get the gossip from a big Coronation Street shoot we did yesterday. Happily (although also slightly disappointingly), everyone couldn’t have been lovelier. Brainstorm coverlines with deputy editor Gary. There’s a lot going on, but nothing leaps out as a lead. After talking round in circles, we work up a Corrie story that feels new and intriguing. Further debate follows over whether a coverline is too misleading. While it’s true fictitious characters can’t sue you, the readers can easily stop buying if they’ve been hoodwinked. I love my readers – they’re passionate, insightful and not afraid to say what they think. They also have a strong relationship with the magazine. People make a real, active choice to buy Inside Soap – we’re niche and we ain’t cheap in our market, so we’re no casual purchase. They expect a lot and we have to deliver that.
Meanwhile, proofs are piling up. I love the working shorthand you build up on a weekly. Steve, my unflappable production editor, only has to stand outside my office and raise one eyebrow and I guiltily start proofreading. I wonder who actually runs this magazine, then look up to see Steve taking a sneaky glance to check I’m still doing my duty, and I realise…
Press day today, so more proofs, last-minute changes and the never-ending TV listings pages. Squeeze in the planning meeting for the next two issues, where we dissect the forward storylines and chew over feature ideas. More website emails follow. I think I’m winning – I now understand 70 per cent of the techno speak.
In a spare moment, I sort out arrangements for a trip next week. Trips are unheard of on soap mags – the train to Leeds for Emmerdale is a treat for us. Normally, we can only gaze like Dickensian orphans through a sweet shop window as the staff of the glossy mags head off to far-flung parts we can only dream of. However, Coronation Street has invited me to cover the filming of a spin-off DVD in South Africa, something I haven’t had a moment to think about until now.
The day ends with an office birthday – Cava, crisps and Percy Pigs from M&S. Bliss.
A Thursday press night normally makes Friday a pleasure. Time to tidy your desk and tackle everything that’s dropped to the bottom of your to-do list, and even go to the pub for lunch. Sadly, not today. There are last-minute snags on the awards’ launch, as well as the final website sign-off. Oh, and we’re also trying to pull ahead to get the team up to Manchester on Monday.
Finish the day by giving a briefing on the launch, read whatever pages are ready to go, then finally shut up shop. Even send everyone home five minutes early! Ain’t I good? Well, they’ll need the rest – who knows what time they’ll get to bed on Monday night?