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Behind the scenes

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Bradley (executive producer), how did you first get interested in the story?

While I was working on a book about Mohammed bin Salman several years ago, I kept hearing about this scandal in Spain involving Juan Carlos and the King of Saudi Arabia. I did some reporting, but it didn’t feel that meaningful from a Saudi Arabia perspective. I couldn’t quite forget the story, though. As I interviewed more people connected to the scandal, I realized it was an incredibly important story for a concept I’m obsessed with: How the world really works. This is at once an unbelievable story of a relationship gone terribly wrong, but beneath the surface it’s about how the 0.01% live and operate with abandon, corruption, power and greed. I also felt after meeting Corinna that she’d never had a chance to explain herself properly, without interruption. We spent many hours with her as well as with other characters in this drama – some of them refusing to speak on the record – to get to the heart of the story.

Ryan (creative director), how did you capture the spirit of the story in your designs?

Our initial inspiration behind the creative direction for the show was to try and capture the moral decay beneath this incredible romance gone awry. We started out by trying to juxtapose this idea of the ‘royal dream’ with the dirty, ‘royal nightmare.’ As the show developed, it became clear that the story was so much more complex than that. We wanted to capture a sense of place (Spain), and also push harder on trying to communicate an overwhelming feeling of weirdness, which permeates through all of the stories in the show. We started looking to the occult for inspiration — tarot cards in particular, but also “baraja española,” which is a popular Spanish card game. The kinds of signs, imagery, and visual style associated with these two references just made a lot of sense for the overall look and feel of the subject matter we were dealing with, but was also very ripe for picking conceptually. I think that the illustrations have a certain kind of mystical and symbolic meaning to them, related to each episode’s key themes. Inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel, “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” (1973), in which the main characters lose the power of speech and can communicate only through tarot cards, I also hope that they play a part in telling some of the characters’ stories!

Alex (executive producer and composer), what was it like trying to reimagine this story for the soundtrack?

Composing this soundtrack has been a long open process until the delivery of the last episode. This story is polyhedral, complex and contains contradictions and surreal moments. Beyond the financial scandals and the political plots there is a very strong emotional background. There’s an undeniable part of true love, trauma, dependency and inherent loneliness but it’s all so intense and crazy that I had to be very careful with the music. The score had to reflect all that and even in a certain ironic way but avoiding seeming a parody.

The first thing I did months ago, following those guidelines, was the main theme, which escapes from conventional instrumentation and contains the DNA of this story. It’s a tune with a circus look, with many layers, percussive elements and exotic effects. There are certain Spanish winks with clapping, guitars and some flamenco voices, courtesy of José de Lucía (Paco de Lucía’s nephew) but in an unstructured and decontextualized way. As if everything was about to break at any moment.

The rest of the score is very diverse. It accompanies the story, but I always tried to give it personality, to make it recognizable to our listeners through some key melodies that are repeated with variations and certain sound textures. At all times there is an underlying sense of threat and frailty, even in the sweetest or lightest moments. And there are countless details and specific moments. Just for the first episode, I composed twenty different pieces.

I like to work from the scripts, landing concepts throughout the production time of the series and even recording new things in the first mixes and audio edits of the episodes. So music has been growing and evolving at the same time as history.

Farah (lead scriptwriter), what attracted you to this story?

I am drawn to entertaining, wide-reaching stories that explain the human condition, the reasons we do the things we do, and what can turn good guys into bad. The moment I heard about Corinna and the King I knew I had to be part of the storytelling process. Their love story is complex and one rich in emotion and tenderness, yet we rapidly fall right down with Corinna and King Juan Carlos as they experience the dark forces of greed and power, and ultimately hate.

Mark (producer and story editor), why does this story matter — for Spain and beyond?

My family moved to Madrid in 1992, during exactly that high point of optimism and wildness and fun in Spain we describe in the second episode of the show. But the Civil War and Franco still hung over everything, like water stains after a flood. And I can remember this anxiety, people arguing at cafe tables over sangria, about how codependent Spain was with the king. How badly we still needed him. How without him, Spain might be the next Yugoslavia, fractured into violence and chaos and tribalism. So to me this is a story of a nation that’s finally matured past the need for a monarch. It’s also, let’s be honest, a totally nutso soap opera.

Nuria (executive producer), how big of a story is this in Spain?

It’s a huge story and one that is very, very charged politically. While it has been rigorously covered by journalists, it’s also very complicated if you are not familiar with the Spanish context, so in a way, it is not that well known outside Spain. You have to remember Spanish democracy is barely 45 years old. And the narrative that has been told in Spain is that the transition between Franco’s dictatorship to democracy was facilitated thanks to King Juan Carlos as a sort of hero figure. When this scandal imploded, not only was Juan Carlos forced to abdicate, but his image as a benefactor of democracy and exemplary ruler also started to crumble. And it was just the tip of the iceberg. This is why this story is so divisive in Spain, and it hits so close to home. What is exciting about ‘Corinna and the King’ is not only the unprecedented access we had to Corinna herself but also that it’s told from an outsider’s perspective and intended for a wide, international audience. I think this will be illuminating – and probably shocking – for a Spanish audience as well.

Meet the team

Bradley Hope
Executive Producer

Tom Wright
Executive Producer

Mishel Prada
Host (EN)

Laura Gómez
Host (ES)

Sandy Smallens
Executive Producer for Audiation

Núria Net
Executive Producer for La Coctelera Music

Alex García Amat
Executive Producer for La Coctelera Music, Sound Design Composer & Supervisor

Mark Lotto
Story Editor

Jimena Marcos
Story Editor

Mariángel Gonzales
Senior Producer

Farah Halime Hope
Lead Scriptwriter

Megan Dean
Scriptwriter & Associate Producer

Soobin Kim
Scriptwriter & Associate Producer

Ana González

Ireland Meacham

Francesca Gilardi Quadrio Curzio
Associate Producer

Lucy Woods
Associate Producer & Head of Research

Daniel Durán
Editor (EN & ES), Sound Designer

Matt Noble
Editor (EN)

Matt Bentley-Viney

Joan Alonso
Assistant Editor

Ryan Ho
Creative Director

Andrija Klaric
Video Editor & Designer

Julien Pradier
Graphic Designer

Paloma García Cruz

Eva Magaña
Voice Actor

Ana Clements
Voice Actor

Francine Belanger
Voice Actor

Alex Marrero
Voice Actor

Luis Alberto Casado
Voice Actor

Antonio Soto Patiño
Voice Actor

José María del Río
Voice Actor

José de Lucía
Additional Music Performance & Arrangement

Adriana López “La Pimienta”
Additional Music Vocals

Corinna and the King is the unbelievable true story of a love affair that brought the Spanish royal family to its knees.

Listen to the podcast now

Have you ever heard the secrets of a king?

Have you ever heard the secrets of a king?

Have you ever heard the secrets of a king?

Have you ever heard the secrets of a king?

Have you ever heard the secrets of a king?

A princess, a king, a fairytale gone wrong

A princess, a king, a fairytale gone wrong

A princess, a king, a fairytale gone wrong

A princess, a king, a fairytale gone wrong

A princess, a king, a fairytale gone wrong