Y&R exec Mal Young hopes to bring a daring British soap element to Genoa City

Posted Thursday, November 01, 2018 11:38:00 AM

The Young and the Restless is poised for a dose of royal British treatment in the form of two-handers, a filming technique rarely used on US soap operas.

The United States is head over heels in love with many British staples (here's looking at you fish and chips, Downton Abbey, and Kate Middleton), but will daytime TV lovers be equally fascinated with England's way of producing soap operas? The Young and the Restless is in the process of testing those waters.

Fans of the CBS series may have noticed that stand-alone episodes -- or episodes that center on one storyline, character, or group of characters -- are being featured more frequently. And the show's executive producer, Mal Young, says more "beautifully crafted" special one-off episodes are on the way -- despite initial hesitation from the team.

"I asked the writers to come with me on the journey to do an episode where it's four women in the living room for 30 minutes," he explains to Soaps In Depth of the recent stand-alone that featured Sharon Case (Sharon Newman), Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), Gina Tognoni (Phyllis Summers), and J.T. "I said, 'We're not going to go anywhere else. We might go out to the garden for a brief scene, but I want it to be like a stage play.' Everyone looked at me like I'd lost it! Everyone was a little bit scared, but that's good!"

Before coming to the US and taking on Y&R, Young previously executive produced the extremely popular British soap opera Eastenders. The 33-year-old series is known for doing special episodes, some of which focus solely on a pair of actors for the entire half-hour episode (known as "two-handers"). And Young says he'd love to bring that production style to this side of the pond.

"My ambition one day is to have just two actors in a room for the whole hour," he shares, adding that the show's phenomenal talent would make it possible. "I think we can do it. We have the people."

EastEnders debuted its first two-hander episode back in 1986 to widespread acclaim; the special stand-alone garnered over 14 million viewers. At the time, the technique was truly groundbreaking, as devoting an entire half hour of drama to just two characters had been unheard of in a biweekly serial before that episode aired. The technique became one of the show's longstanding traditions, with an average of one two-hander episode airing each year.

If Y&R begins airing two-handers, it won't be the first soap opera to emulate the style: British soaps Coronation Street and Brookside have also copied the two-hander technique first made famous by Eastenders.

For more from Young on why he and the soap's crew are considering bringing new production techniques to Y&R, check out Soaps In Depth's full article here.

Are you enjoying Y&R's special stand-alone episodes? Would you like to see more in the future? Would you support the soap trying "two-handers," with just two characters shown for the full hour? If so, which two characters would you want to see featured first? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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