Emmerdale has announced the new executive producer for the soap following the tragic death of previous producer Gavin Blyth in November. Stuart Blackburn who has been story producer for the ITV drama since 2009.
The new producer's role is effective immediately and Blackburn had his first long-term story conference this week. Blyth who died in November after a short-term illness steered a hugely successful revamp for the show which saw new characters such as Hazel Rhodes (Pauline Quirke) join the show to a generally positive reaction.
Speaking of his new role as executive producer, Blackburn commented: ''This job is very special to me because producing is the ultimate form of storytelling and I've always been very passionate about drama in my working life. This is without a doubt the most exciting day of my career.''
Continuing on, he said: ''I feel a massive responsibility as well as excitement. We'll never be complacent at Emmerdale as it's important we look forward. Together with the cast and crew, we'll continue to work extremely hard to improve what Gavin had started.''
Blackburn worked on Emmerdale as a storyliner 13 years ago before he moved on to work on shows such as ITV's The Bill and Sky's Dream Team before returning to work in soap on Coronation Street five years ago where he began working with the late Gavin Blyth. After working with Blyth on the fellow ITV soap, he was invited to rejoin the Emmerdale team by Blyth who was appointed series producer in 2009.
Speaking about the new executive producer, ITV's creative director for soaps John Whiston commented: ''Stuart Blackburn has a unique combination of the perfect pedigree and the fire in his belly to take Emmerdale to new heights. I'm really glad he threw his hat into the ring and I'm confident the show will now build on not just the foundations that Gavin laid but also on the amazing work that [assistant producer] Tony Hammond and the team have done to carry on Gavin's legacy.''
We wish Stuart all the best of luck with carrying on from the excellent and sadly departed Gavin Blyth and look forward to seeing his work come to fruition. Post your comments on the new producer here!'