16/05/2017 05:00 BST

‘Redwater’: Ex-’EastEnders’ Boss Dominic Treadwell Collins Explains How New Drama Could Combat Soap Snobbery

'What we hope to do with this show is play amongst all the big hitters.'

It’s been over 12 months since Dominic Treadwell-Collins stepped down from the role of ‘EastEnders’ executive producer, but his newest project, ‘Redwater’, features two of the show’s most popular characters: Kat and Alfie Moon.

The six-part drama sees the couple search for Kat’s long-lost son, whose existence was discovered two years ago, and Dominic has now revealed how he thinks the programme could change the way the television industry views soaps.

Shane Ritchie and Jessie Wallace lead an ensemble cast 

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Dominic explained: “Within the industry, there’s a snobbery about soaps in general, and I think that’s really, really wrong.

“What we hope to do with this show is play amongst all the big hitters, play against ‘Happy Valley’, which is amazing but I think this can stand on its own with all those others [dramas]. That was always the aim.”

The first episode airs later this week and wastes no time in making the team’s intentions clear, beginning with a flashback scene to a dark moment in the town’s history - which appears to have nothing to do with Kat and Alfie.

“You were expecting to see Kat and Alfie getting off the boat and for it all to be a bit jolly,” Dominic said. “Actually [we] go straight away and say to the audience, ‘this isn’t what you expect it to be’.

Dave J Hogan via Getty Images
Dominic Treadwell-Collins 

“This is a town of secrets, something else terrible has happened in the past and we keep coming back to the boat scene and the history, throughout the first series.”

As longtime fans of the soap will know, this isn’t the first time ‘EastEnders’ has made the trip across the Irish sea. However, their 1997 jaunt to Dublin were not exactly well-received, and the BBC ended up issuing an apology when many Irish viewers complained about negative stereotyping.

Understandably, this is something Dom is keen to compensate for with ‘Redwater’.

He said: “When EastEnders went to Ireland 20 years ago, it was famously not great and upset a lot of Irish people. I remember my family all being a bit appalled by it all.

“So when I said to my cousins over in West Cork, what I was doing, they all said: ‘Ohhh no, ‘EastEnders’ goes to Ireland, you don’t want to do that!’

“I made it my mission to rewrite those wrongs.”

And finally, Dominic turned his attention to the phrase “spin-off”. In the two years that ‘Redwater’ has been in production, it’s often been touted as a ‘Kat and Alfie spin-off’, but even after just one episode, it’s clear this isn’t the case.

“Vicki [Wharton, producer] banned the word spin-off,” he said. “She stopped me from saying it. I kept saying ‘spin-off, spin-off’ and Vicky said ‘no!’.

“We wanted it to be a drama in its own right and you take Kat and Alfie into a whole new world and see them with a whole new cast of characters, and treat ‘Redwater’ like Walford, a place where there are other residents, all with their little secrets.

BBC Pictures
Kat and Alfie's arrival will have a huge impact on the community 

“At the beginning, Vicki and I sat down and went ok, let’s lay down as many secrets as possible so this can run and run and run.

“We’ve got relatives that can be brought in, the way you do with ‘EastEnders’ all the time. But, we’ve been aiming to make it stand as a drama in its own right, so that someone who hasn’t watched ‘EastEnders’ can get into it as well.

“It’s a story about a woman searching for her son, and it’s in Ireland, which is the most beautiful country.”

‘Redwater’ airs on Thursday 18 May at 8pm.

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