|The debonair Mr Duncan Lindsay, Soaps Editor at Metro.c.uk|
First of all, how did you make the leap from blogger to soaps editor at Metro.co.uk? How did you get the job?
I always loved writing so in my spare time, I submitted a few blogs to Metro.co.uk for publication, which readers can still do - they cover all sorts from lifestyle, health and nostalgia to relationships, TV, gaming - whatever tickles your fancy. Many of these had a soap theme and they did well for the site, people seemed to love reading them and engaging with them
So I was invited to move to London from Scotland to do some shifts with the entertainment desk. Over the year that followed, my soap stuff was clearly my forte and I started to grow a separate section on the site for it. I thought soaps are big enough and with passionate enough fanbases for them to be carried on their own. Now it's massive - and I sometimes even find time to commission blogs from others so have come full circle.
And are you still enjoying it?
I absolutely love it. It's busier than it's ever been, the section is now huge but I am so precious about it that I insist on doing it all myself, even if that leads to some unsocial hours. It's my baby though! Singlehandedly, I cover the four main soaps and the medical dramas and that involves features, interviews, backstage stuff, videos, social media projects, speculation, reaction pieces - there's always loads to do. But I really enjoy it.
The fans are absolutely brilliant to engage with, that's one of my favourite aspects is sharing my love of soap with readers and chatting to them about it. And of course, everyone at the four soaps is lovely and very supportive of Metro.co.uk.
I am deliberately always positive with my content. I think life's too short to always seek the negative angle and look to bring things down - these people on these soaps work so hard so who are we to mock their gaffes and slam their efforts? I don't think fans want to read their favourite shows being slated anyway so it's all about sharing a love of the soaps and being as enthusiastic as possible.
I know that a great majority of the actors are open fans of Metro.co.uk and that feels good that they appreciate how we cover them and that the readers respond well to it too. Second only to chatting with readers, that's the most rewarding bit is knowing the work isn't just being clicked but it's being shared and enjoyed.
What have been some of your soaps highlights over the last year?
I do love when the soaps go a little bit bonkers - which would explain my adoration for Corrie characters like Jenny Bradley, Mad Maya Sharma and Richard Hillman. So storylines like Pat Phelan's reign of terror or the Emmerdale Super Soap week were highlights as they allow the soaps to suspend reality and just go a little bit nuts. It's great escapism.
But part of the beauty of soap is the comedy which is what Corrie continues to nail for me. Tracy and Amy Barlow are constant highlights for me these days. Mary Taylor's growth this year has also been incredible - there is no much more depth to her but she is still extremely warm and very funny. I'm not such a fan of slapstick - I don't like when soaps go a bit cartoony but that's personal taste. It's all in the line delivery, the writing and the facial expressions for me.
In terms of major storylines, Ashley's dementia in Emmerdale, the teenage cancer story in Hollyoaks, Bethany's sex ring abuse in Corrie and Bex's bullying ordeal in EastEnders have all been hard hitting but deeply engaging for me.
Were you nervous at first about going into the soaps press days to interview the cast?
It feels like so long ago and they have become such a normal part of the job but I recall being quite nervous back in the day. Not so much over meeting famous people as I genuinely have never been starstruck and when you do actually meet these actors, as most on the Corrie blog know, they're just human beings like anyone else and so warm and approachable. I am very lucky to simply class many of them among my friends.
But the first proper press day I did was when I was still a blogger for Metro.co.uk. It was a Coronation Street event and so involved Manchester travel and an overnight stay because it included night time interviews and entertainment. As I say, the things I am always most nervous about (and still get nervous about when it's a new venue!) is actually finding the place and getting there on time as my skills at directions are utterly hopeless. It was quite an in depth press event to get started with for my first one as it involved an episode screening, interviews with the cast involved and then a meet and greet with other cast that night along with bowling, karaoke and the lot. When you didn't know many faces there it was a little intimidating at first but both the people working on show and the other soap journos are such nice people. We're all just a nice big gang now and always welcoming to new and nervous faces.
As ever with these events, the real work comes afterwards, when everything needs transcribed and then written into exciting articles. I can often find myself with 15-20 pieces out of these events and often there is very little time to do them before embargoes lift so that's fun! They're not just jollies - they can be really hard work too!
Were you always a fan of all of the soaps before you started your new job?
Massively, since before I can remember. As a kid one of the first birthday gifts I recall was a subscription to Inside Soap magazine. I also handwrote my own soap magazine with my own soaps in it (they were a little less realistic - not sure as a child I quite got the whole pacing storylines thing!). I think I made about 100 copies in the end, one every week! I still have them.
I remember being gripped by storylines like Don Brennan driving Alma Baldwin into the river and Kim Tate's return from the dead.
And has your work at Metro meant that you're having to watch a lot of telly? Do you ever sleep?
I have to watch every single episode to make sure that the content I put out afterwards is accurate and in depth as possible. I usually watch them as far in advance as possible but time isn't always on my side for this! When you cover four soaps, it's a huge chunk.
But if there are two things I love even more than watching soaps, it's eating and sleeping so I always ensure I find plenty of time for those too.
Which of all the soaps is your favourite?
I genuinely love all four of them so much - I have grown up with them all (and Brookside, which I still pine for) and now that I work closely with them all and know the people behind the screens, I want them all to succeed and do well and always enjoy watching them all.
Obviously, all shows go up and down so my current favourite always changes. But it would be rude of me not to give a nod to Corrie on a Corrie site and Coronation Street is so on fire at the moment, it's genuinely unmissable. There is so much going on, Kate Oates is a master of her craft and to have so many fast paced storylines intertwining with the long, drawn out sagas while still maintaining warmth and humour is a real feat.
I did have concerns about a sixth episode but now I actually think the show needs it as it is so busy and it will give a chance to explore these storylines even deeper.
So... for you, who are your rising stars of the Street, the ones to watch over the next few months and years?
There is so much amazing stuff coming up on Corrie, I genuinely can't wait to watch it pan out and learn more about it. For me, Lucy Fallon has been an utter revelation, completely at the top of her game in her story.
Over coming months, I also think it's well worth keeping an eye on Julia Goulding, who is brilliant and refreshing as Shona. I know she has some great material ahead. Also, I am a bit in love with Rob Mallard - Daniel Osbourne could have a scene reading a book and then sneezing and I'd be shouting 'BAFTA!' at the screen. I love the complexity of Daniel and Rob plays him well.
And Cath Tyldesley was crying out for some absolutely meaty material and now that she is getting it, she is proving why she deserves to be right at the centre of the action. The revenge storyline has 'epic' written all over it. I don't know yet how it actually pans out but I can imagine it's going to be something pretty special.
Sally Ann Matthews too is always a dream in her scenes and the relationship with Johnny has allowed us to see so much more to Jenny Bradley - I think the MS storyline will add even further to that. It's going to be interesting to see how she deals with that; I do genuinely think that Bradders is in love.
Genuinely too many to mention but Patti Clare, as ever - can't wait for Mr and Mrs and her son Jude's return; I've been waiting to see that explored again. Faye Brookes - an NTA Best Newcomer - has got a big story coming up. She deserved that award, the character is so natural and it's going to be good to see her leading a story properly. And of course the wonderful Phelan - his human side is intriguing, it's hard to be mad at him. Introducing Nicola Thorp as his daughter into the mix could well be a stroke of genius. Maybe he will actually be able to stay for a while! In her own right as a character, I am also enjoying Nicola's debut. Sorry, that's a long answer, I could have kept going!
Who would be your dream interview... if you could have a one to one, over a pint, with ANY soap actor from any of the soaps - past or present?
I never got to interview anyone from Brookside as it was already in soap heaven when I started on this so I keep hoping for Dean Sullivan or Sue Jenkins to be cast somewhere so I can chat to them - but I'd only want to talk Brookie! I am also holding out for a proper chat with the legend that is Linda Henry - whom I loved right back from her Bad Girls reign - but understand that she is very private. We've met but I'd love to have a proper one on one chinwag with her because she's iconic! And Liz Dawn too would be a dream to get the gossip from - she must have some absolutely immense stories to tell.
Other than that, I am honestly extremely lucky - everyone I could name, I have had the privilege of chatting to and hand on heart, I have never been disappointed.
Finally, what's your favourite seat on the bus?
Anywhere close to a window, I pick the seat carefully so I am angled to get the best whoosh of air when the bus is moving. I hate the heat. My bus broke down the other week and we were stuck on the top deck with traffic not moving either way for nearly an hour on the hottest day of the year. And because it's London, no-one else seemed to be struggling and someone next to me closed the window after I opened it - while wearing a coat. The following day I had heatstroke and was knocked flat with it for a week. Coincidence? I think not!
You can get your fix of UK soap news by liking the Metro Soaps Facebook page.
You can follow Duncan on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/DuncanLindsay
The homepage for all of Metro.co.uk's soap articles is here: http://metro.co.uk/tag/soap-spoiler
Our thanks go to Duncan for this insight into the life of an online soaps editor.
Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter