Monday, 12 April 2010

Blog Exclusive! Behind-the-scenes interview with Mark Llewellin

Mark Llewellin is a name that may not be familiar to many of us as Coronation Street fans, but behind-the-scenes at Corrie, the man is a legend.

Having worked as Marketing Director at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre where he worked with many of the Coronation Street cast before they were famous as stars of the Street, he wrote a book called 'They Started Here!'. It’s a history of the theatre in which he interviewed many of the Corrie cast and he still counts many of the cast as his personal friends.

I interviewed Mark today for the Coronation Street blog and what a joy it was to speak to someone so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about our favourite soap. He contributes research articles to Granada's Coronation Street archives, writes Coronation Street articles for the press and magazines, and he lectures on Corrie. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Oldham, you can pop along to Oldham library on Thursday 15th April this week to hear Mark’s talk. He explained that the talk at Oldham Library this week is one of many he gives about Coronation Street. The history and structure of the Street are explained, along with how Corrie’s heritage is still on display on the Street today. Did you know that Dennis Tanner’s name is still carved into one of the house-fronts on the set? Or that theatrical posters on the walls in the Rovers Return hark back to Alec Gilroy’s day as landlord?

Mark also works as an official Corrie tour guide to the groups of Canadian fans who come over each year and the tours include a look at Corrie filming locations as well as a guided tour of the set. You lucky, lucky Canadians! With a writing background including script-writing and pantomimes to his credit, Mark also edits the 'Canadian Coronation Street' magazine, which is produced for the British Isles Show each year over there.

It’s no surprise to hear that Mark is a huge Corrie fan, with his highlights over the years being the double act between Jack and Alec in the Rovers and, (like me) his favourite Corrie lady is Rita. He says it’s the mix of drama and comedy that Corrie does best and this fan can only agree.

Mark also revealed a couple of behind-the-scenes anecdotes that had me in chuckles. His own personal Corrie highlight was having his photograph taken while on the QE2 doing a Corrie talk. The photo ended up as part of the Corrie set on the wall in Sunliners, the Corrie travel agency where Deirdre used to work (and where she met John the fake pilot). He’s also been lucky enough to have worked as an extra once too.

And Mark also revealed that when Phil Middlemiss, who played Des Barnes, worked on the Street in the days when the set used to be open to the public, Phil would don a wig and a hat and go out onto the Street to mingle with the tourists. He’d hold out a camera and ask members of the public to take pictures of him in front of Des Barnes’ house, saying that he was a huge fan of Des! Sounds like that Phil had a wicked sense of humour.

To find out more about life behind-the-scenes at Coronation Street, from the wonderful Mark Llewellin, why not pop along to Oldham Library on Thursday. If I lived up there, I’d be sitting at the front, ready with my sandwiches and flask of hot tea. Find out more here.


Tvor said...

Mark took myself, my fella and another friend from Winnipeg around the studio a couple of years ago, accompanied by someone from Granada and they were both lovely! He had lots of stories and people i know that have gone on the tours have rave reviews about him.

Coronation Street Corner said...

I love Rita as well!

Deborah said...

Mark has been a special guest at two of our pings. He shared his Corrie knowledge and fabulous stories with the fans. April 15th will be a great event for those lucky enough to attend.

I'm looking forward to getting his latest magazine at the British Isles show this weekend.

bbhilda said...

I have met Mark several times, the first time he interviewed my sister and myself for the 'On The Air' magazine that he owned along with the lovely Peter Riley.
They took us on my first 'locations' tour, and told us that we would only be able to look at the set from the gates, but when we got there, he said "Actually you can go right in, you are expected". I was totally gobsmacked! My first time on the cobbles, and was given a complete tour of the inside & outside set.
Have been back to the set a few times since then, and whenever he has the time, he joins me on the set, because I believe like me, he never tires of going!
He gave me a copy of his lovely book, and I am proud to call him a friend.

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