Home Arts & Lit Valentine’s Day: LOVE ON UNION ROAD

Valentine’s Day: LOVE ON UNION ROAD

Image credit: Graham Everleigh
Image credit: Graham Everleigh

Union Road has a very special sort of Valentine’s Day planned… Creator Graham Eveleigh is here to tell all.

All soaps are seasonal. One of the great things about Union Road is we can completely ride the wave of whatever Hallmark celebration period comes along. We had a huge Christmas storyline, sudden death at New Year and at Easter… well you’ll have to wait and see what we have in store for then. (I’ll give you a clue: it involves Billy and an Easter Egg hunt that goes terribly wrong…)

But in February we come to the King of Hallmark seasons, mauled by cynicism and, frankly, capitalism. It’s Valentine’s Day – either the most beautiful and euphoric or the most heart-breaking day of the year, depending on your situation. And that suits Union Road – because we do euphoric and we do heart-breaking, usually within the same episode!

It was irresistible, then, to devote this Valentine’s special to the most contentious and controversial love storyline on Union Road – Harriet and Ian’s incestuous love. With their secret uncovered by street gossip Linda at Christmas, it was only a matter of time before it all came out. And in last week’s nail-biting episode, that’s exactly what happened!

But it’s special for more reasons than that. Soap operas have long traditions of occasional two-handers, episodes featuring just a few characters, usually ranting in a locked pub. And when these special stripped-down episodes work, they work better than normal episodes by miles. I’ll never forget EastEnders‘ ONE-hander, the “Pretty Baby” monologue. Just Dot Cotton in a room, deciding whether or not to leave her husband in a home. And it was incredible.

The prospect of a Union Road two-hander was exciting for what it is – it’s essentially a slice of theatre – but also for practical reasons. A block of about six episodes takes almost to weekends to record and over an hour to edit. A two-hander would be complete and edited within two hours maximum. In a term in which Union Road is churning out over double the episodes we made last term, it would give us a pause to catch our breath.

But those are all the boring reasons! The real reason why we had to do it was it was too tempting to put Alexandra Newton (Harriet) and James Alston (Ian), two incredible talents, in a room and listen to them emote their socks off for fifteen minutes. And do you know what? They did it in one take. Well, we went back and re-recorded most of it, just because we’re all perfectionists but: one take. They were amazing. Truth is I could have pulled in any of the cast for this and they would have made you smile, and cry, and nailed it in one. We have an astonishingly talented cast, and it keeps me writing script after script, knowing I cannot possibly let any of them down.

So the question is: where do they go from here? Where does the show go from here? What do Harriet and Ian want to do, and what CAN they do? In many ways our best episode to date, this is a bold slice of drama for Valentine’s.

And then onto Easter! A story for every season: that’s Union Road.

Union Road’s Valentine’s episode airs two days before the special day on Wednesday 12 February at 5.45pm on Xpression FM.

Catch up on the previous episodes on Mixcloud and check out the Facebook and Twitter page.

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