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Exclusive! Interview with Soaps Queen, Grace Dent from The Guardian's 'World of Lather'
by Glenda Young

Read Grace Dent's World of Lather at The Guardian online
With excellent illustrations by Thea Brine

Q. How long have you been writing about soaps and how did you get The Guardian gig with 'World of Lather'?
I wrote my first soap column 'World of Lather' in 2000. It was just a fluke really. I loved television and I loved the Guardian Guide and wanted a regular column so when I heard the previous soap critic Jim Shelley was leaving to go the The Mirror I plagued Tim the editor until he gave in and let me do it. I remember writing a load of nonsense off-spec about Jack, Vera and Kevin and e-mailing him saying 'I can begin NOW!' The poor man gave me 'World of Lather' just to shut me up.

Q: How and when did your interest in soaps begin - and why?
I've been watching Corrie since I was old enough to sit upright in front of a television. Over 30 years. Rita Sullivan is a bit like my other mother. I remember the wild excitement in my house in the 70's when Deirdre was having an affair with Mike. And when Emily's husband got shot at the factory. Or when Gail and Brian Tilsley were married. Life was incredibly boring back then, we watched TV night after night after night. Glamourous women like Elsie Tanner and Bet Lynch always seemed be in the middle of a feud or a break-up. I was entranced by this. I look at myself sometimes dressed to go out and think 'Oh god, that's just Elsie Tanner you're channeling'.

Q: Which one's your favourite soap and if it's not Corrie, why do you think your choice beats Corrie?
Corrie will always be where my heart is. Eastenders is really quite strong right now but Corrie genuinely makes me laugh and has people I'm quite involved with. Like Eileen Grimshaw and Lloyd and Steve. I would watch whole episodes of those three just sitting in the minicab office bickering about who should make tea. There's a warmth in Corrie dialogue that's unseen anywhere on TV. I think the writers really nail how people speak in North-West England and how we relate to each other. We're not touchy-feely people, we're more likely to sit and slag each other off with a twinkle in our eye.

Q: Who do you most love writing about in Corrie in your 'World of Lather'?
Blanche. I love her. The problem is, however, that her lines are so good it's difficult to write anything about them without spoiling the effect. They stand alone perfectly. I could fill up my column simply with things Blanche has said and my readers would be happy, but this would be cheating. Stuff like, 'Good looks are a curse Deirdre. You and Ken should count yourselves very lucky.' Or to Roy and Hayley: 'HE'S A LOONY, SHE'S A MAN.'

Q: If you could be a Corrie character for a day who would you be? Who would you be for a year?
I'd be Maria 24 hours to see how it feels. I'd love to be so blissully ignorant and completely gullible about life. The Tony/Maria storyline has tested my patience to its edge. I'd be Carla for a year. I love Carla. I got very wrapped up in her affair with Liam and really wanted them to be together. I loved her when she turned up last month and saw Tony with Maria and sneered, 'Ere, get rid of Miley Cyrus.' Perfect.

Q: Who's your top three favourite Corrie characters of all time?
Elsie Tanner. Steve McDonald. Rita Fairclough/Sullivan.

Q: What's been your favourite Corrie storylines over the years?
Richard Hillman - the whole saga. Especially when he started convincing Audrey she was going senile. I was livid. He'd crossed a line for me then. I wasn't so bothered about him trying to kill David and Sarah Lou. Killing David would have been a favour to us all.

Q: Are there any of the classic Corrie actors from the 1960s onwards who are no longer with us that you would have loved to have met?
I loved Hilda and Eddie Yates. When I was tiny I couldn't quite understand why they stayed together when they bickered so much about what needed doing around the house and where the money was going. Now I'm grown up, I understand completely. They were actually completely in love.

Q: Do you know any Corrie spoilers you can tease us with - or is it more than your job's worth?! ;-)
The thing people don't realise about me is that I'm not interested in spoilers. I just watch the show like everyone else and write about it. I don't do 'soap gossip'. I hate knowing what's going to happen. Plus people always ask me to tell them storylines so I tell them and they look sadly at me and say 'Oh that's ruined it for me now.'

Q: What do you do when you're not writing World of Lather?
My main job is as an author.
I've written eleven novels. I do comedy satire. If you like Corrie, you'd like my novels. Diary of a Snob: Poor Little Rich Girl is out now and I'm writing the sequel Money Can't Buy Me Love at the moment. My novels sell allover the world so the whole thing keeps me busy. I work on newspapers and TV and Radio as a pop culture critic. This month I've been working on XFactor and Radio 5 and filming a lot of Christmas TV shows.

Q: And finally, Grace, the answer to the question that we all want to know. What's your favourite seat on a double-decker bus?
Downstairs right at the back in the corner. I like it there as you're quite safe and snug plus you can listen to everyone's conversations. I like earwigging.

With many thanks to Grace Dent and Thea Brine.

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