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THE SOAP CZAR; Corrie producer Park is leaving Weatherfield to take on the world.

Coronation Street boss Brian Park is quitting to become a global soap trouble- shooter.

The 43-year-old Scot is setting up his own production company with Corrie script executive Ann McManus.

His first task will be to breathe new life into the Channel 5 soap, Family Affairs.

But its makers, Pearson Television, will then give him a roving commission to spice up their TV dramas around the world.

Park will eventually work on a dozen other Pearson shows, including Neighbours in Australia.

They also make The Bill for ITV and Park will be involved in that too - if it manages to escape the axe amid worries over falling ratings.

Pearson's soaps in New Zealand, Germany, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Holland and Hungary will all get the Park treatment.

But Family Affairs, which has seen its number of viewers top a million in the last year, is first on the list.

And the man dubbed the axeman of Weatherfield after sacking many of Coronation Street's stars is looking forward to the challenge.

He said: "Family Affairs is obviously a very different programme from Coronation Street, not least because it is barely a year old and runs five days a week. Ann and I see this as a marvellous opportunity to build on its great potential. We plan to make Family Affairs a must- see programme."

His company, Shed Productions, will start work next month as consultants on the show.

Roy Addison of Pearson TV said: "This isn't just about Family Affairs. We are a worldwide company and that's what excites Brian about coming here - it's not just a small soap opera he is joining.

"Clearly we have a much wider reach and his talents would be useful anywhere in the world.

"We love the idea of him trouble-shooting all of our shows."

Park, who is originally from Fife but now lives in Islington, London, announced his departure from the pounds150,000- a-year Coronation Street job four months ago.

During his 18 months in the hot-seat, ratings soared by more than six million to 17million - knocking EastEnders off the top spot as Britain's favourite soap.

He ditched established faces like Derek Wilton, Don Brennan amd Maureen Holdsworth and brought in younger, sexier characters.

Under Park, the Street's plots became much raunchier and he produced the soap storyline of the year with the jailing of Deirdre Rachid.
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Author:Dingwall, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 6, 1998
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