Saturday, 19 January 2013

Coronation Street Blog Towers staff outing

Of course, had it been in the style of a vintage Corrie episode, then yesterday's charabanc excursion to Weatherfield would have ended with the mini bus plunging into Salford Quays, accompanied by a slow-motion shot and the gathered bloggers screaming "no-oooooo" in an echoing fashion. After a commercial break, we would then have been seen laughing about it in a pub as though nothing had happened.

For many of us, and I most definitely count myself in this number, the visit to the Corrie set bordered on a religious experience. Not since visiting the holy sites of Jerusalem have I experienced such a respectful hush. This was my fourth visit to the Street and yet it may as well have been my first. I'd forgotten how small the set is. It only takes a few strides (or a few dozen if your name is Gail MacIntyre) to get from one end to the other. I felt it was right and proper that we were experiencing t'cobbles on a freezing, icy January day. Somehow, the Street dappled in summer sunshine would not have been quite so effective. My Ena Sharples-style great coat came in a treat although, alas, the need for a hairnet receded (along with my hairline) many moons ago.

As blogger Tvor mentioned earlier, the space behind those famous front doors is an empty shell, used for storage. That's right. Open the door to the Rovers - no bar, no hot pot, no Back Room. Nowt. Anyway, we shuffled off and stared at Victoria Street. The excellent liaison chap from ITV commented that there had originally been a plan to feature new characters living in these houses but budget cuts ruled that out.

Onwards then to the fun factory itself, the studio where most of the action takes place. Of course, nothing is as we see it on TV. The Kabin seemed to be a tight-fitting jumble of counters and displays populated with magazines that will never be available in supermarkets and sweets you will never see in real life! So does the Kabin stock any real edibles. Oh yes!

Full marks have to go to the lighting guys at ITV because close up, most of the furniture is hideous and a wee bit knackered. The explanation of Corrie wallpaper and colour choices was baffling enough. It would have us believe that most of the characters are psychotic, feeble or frighteningly determined . . . oh, sorry, they are! There are also a few in-jokes on some of the sets. Eileen's kitchen always features her hen fetish (keep your eyes peeled), Sunita's kitchen was described as a bit 'butch' and Deirdre's kitchen features no food because she is 'selfish'. A psychologists delight.

There is a cupboard in the Barlow's front room which was occupied the set since episode one. We gathered in respectful silence around the venerable item. More fun though are the random odds and ends littering the studio. A mention should go to an Action Man doll next to Eileen's telly and an abandoned doll in a push chair. Or how about the numerous empty Underworld boxes, one of which reputedly survives from the time that the long-forgotten Polish machinist fell down the stairs.

An interesting addition to St. Ella's Back Room - a packed suitcase! Whose is it - and are they arriving or departing?

I think we would quite happily have spent another three or four hours in there, just wandering around and looking for favourite set items. Elsie's red telephone? Still there. The Rovers' stairs? They still have that weird bend part-way up. The Stape's sofa? A grimy health risk. It needs to be taken out and burnt.

Our following location tour, despite the icy temperatures and strong winds, was excellent. This was thanks to the wonderful Mark Llewellin whose knowledge of Street life is remarkable. Off we went to the Red Rec (it's full name is the Red Brick Recreation Ground - full fictitious name that is!) We also saw the street used as the model for Victoria Street and just beyond that, a rather popular closed-off road that features in episodes at least once every year. It is also home to the Rita Tushingham Community Centre, the scene of Blanche Hunt's wonderful rant at the alcoholics meeting.

All in all, a pretty wonderful day. For me, it was great to meet up with fellow bloggers and talk Corrie non-stop for a few hours. ITV's liaison officer and Mark Llewellin added the colour and gossip that made it all the more special. It was a great privilege to spend time at the studios. Hopefully we can bring you a flavour of it here and hope this nosey look behind-the-scenes scenes adds to the enjoyment of our favourite show.

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Flaming Nora said...

David, what a great write-up, thank you. I'm still buzzing!

Sunny Jim said...

Lovely write up.

I had hoped that the suitcase was St. Ella's and that she was leaving, but no such luck, there was a sticker on it that said Eric. He's the character played by Timothy West who turns up with Gloria.

Mark said...

A real pleasure to meet you all and show you a little bit of Weatherfield. If only you'd mentioned that you wanted to be driven into the water we could have done it!

Kate said...

Great writeup of what sounds like a fabulous day. Thank you.

bbhilda said...

Ha ha Mark, that could be a great addition to your tours. It sounds like you all had a great day, wish I could have been there!

Tvor said...

Excellent write up. I loved seeing all the little bits like that action figure and an abandoned green fuzzy toy that i'm almost positive i saw Tyrone with on Friday's episode, one of Ruby's toys.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! Your pictures: Wow, the Rovers' piano!! First, is that vintage from Ena's and the sing-a-long days? Second, where is it in the Rovers now? I can't place it...

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