Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Review: Coronation Street event at HOME Manchester
Follow him on twitter and have a look at his website.
Would you like to write a guest blog post? Details here.
Just last week pictures of the abandoned Coronation Street set on Quay Street were revealed. The cobbles are gone.The houses are windowless. The Street, derelict. It’s eerie; despite the fact the cast and crew moved to a shiny new set, just two miles away, you can’t help feeling a little gutted seeing this historic site in such bad condition.
But good news! ITV, partnered with Manchester’s wonderful HOME theatre, organised a discussion with many of the talented people that played a role in Corrie over the years, celebrating Granada’s 60th Birthday. Actors, writers and producers all came along to talk to Matt Charlton (who was an excellent host for the evening) about their time at the famous Studios.
“Back in those days the viewers believed that Hilda and Stanley were real people and they felt sorry for thembecause theywere so poor,” revealed John Stevenson, a writer from the classic era of the show. “They sent in crumpled one pound notes to help them out!”
Sally Dynevor (Sally Metcalfe) worked with Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) when she started on the show. She agreed with John, that Jean was professional, always on time and didn’t suffer fools gladly. “She was a great influence to Michael (Le Vell, who plays Kevin Webster) and I.” She recalled one Christmas party – and the one rare occasion when Jean lost her temper. “We were at the Bonded Warehouse and someone had the idea of releasing a flock of birds, as part of a display- ”
“Oh, yes!” John chuckled, recalling the memory.
“ - and she was furious. She didn’t like the cruelty to the birds. But she was always so easy to get on with, never angry.”
Naturally, Jean and Tony Warren - two giant icons of the show - were brought up in conversation. It was only this year that they both passed away. Kieran Roberts, the executive producer of the show, shared his memories of Tony. “He was charming and would often phone me up with his opinions on how the show was going. If he didn’t like something, he wasn’t afraid to say it!” When asked about the responsibility of keeping Tony’s vision alive for the future, Kieran said, “Tony, at twenty-three years old, created that world, fully formed. The warmth, the comedy, the drama. We must keep sight of that.”
A special “minisode” from the 90s, once thought to be lost, was screened for the first time in years. It was dug from the ITV archives and sadly isn’t available on YouTube. The clip, which featured the return of Hilda Ogden, was pure brilliance. She returned to the Rovers, now rich,bragging about how her Doctor friend asked her to marry him. “Has he gone senile?” quips Alec. Hilda demands Alec’s best port. Alec: “We have ‘the Grimsby”. Hilda: “Why’s it called that?” Alec: “It’s some old British Port.” The audience loved it – laughing at the gags and even shedding a tear or two towards the end, when Hilda visits Stan’s grave. She looks to the next grave, which is in a sorry state, and tells her Husband, “see Stanley, it’s like I always told ya. No matter how bad things are, there’s always someone worse off than you.”
One of the current writers of the show, Debbie Oates, was on stage. She gave an insight into what it’s like in the Coronation Street story conference. “It’s forty people in a room, arguing about people who aren’t real. It’s the least lonely writing job in the world – usually a writer sits at home in their pyjamas, but once every four weeks you have to put your conference clothes on.”
John admits that working for the show was “like a drug”. He was assigned to work on the show in the early 70s, a time when nobody wanted to write for it. Coronation Street was viewed as a little stale. But he loved itand ended up writing there for thirty years. “I wanted to control what happened next!”
Debbie remembers her first episode, broadcast in 2002. “We went to a pub to watch it. And when my words came out of Barbara Knox’s mouth, it was like, ‘wow!’”
In fact, everyone on stage just seemed grateful to be working there. Even Sally, now in her thirtieth year of working on the show. “I still pinch myself,” she admits. “I thought I’d only be there for four weeks.” In fact, she had a question for John. “Was it just a coincidence that my name and the character’s name are the same?!”
John said, “I honestly can’t remember who did the casting for that. But they did an all right job!” The room erupts with applause. Everyone loves Sally.
Sally continues: “I’m married to a Tim in real life, and everyone thinks I’m the same in real life as I am on the show,” and then she says, laughing, “which I am!”
Another person who can’t quite believe that they’re acting on the show is Connor McIntyre, who plays bad-boy Phelan. “I was only there for three scenes originally, for the Owen storyline. And now look!” He remembered his first scene with Sally, “I sat opposite you and I said, I can’t tell you how amazing this is. And then I had my first scenes with Rita, and Norris, and in a couple of weeks I get to film with Bill (Roache, Ken Barlow).” But then he stops talking, cautious of spoilers.
Kieran reveals that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Phelan in 2017. Hooray! Also: boo, hiss!
The audience were treated to three clips from the Christmas Day 2016 episode. Here are a few teasers... (potential SPOILER WARNING)
Eva and Toyah
It looks like Leanne may have her two sisters at war with each other. Toyah’s not a fan of ditsy Eva!
As well as Toyah, there’s a new addition to the family. One that may come as a nasty surprise to Aidan!
Nick vs. Peter
It’s all gonna kick off on Christmas Day. There’s even a street brawl between the pair, but it’s Sally who steals the show.
The fight has consequences – we’re forced to wave a tragic goodbye to a character because of it…
Mary and Norris
Norris and Mary fall out on Christmas Day
And it’s all Norris’ fault. He does something unforgivable…
2017 also sees the show go from five episodes a week to six. John laments the higher episode count. “When it got to four episodes, it became too much. You had more time to change lines before that happened, you could hear a line in the rehearsal, realise it wasn’t working and tell the Director to change it. Those days are gone.”
Sally is positive about the extra weekly slice of Corrie action, “It’s amazing how you adapt. You go from two episodes, to three to five, and now six next year… We can play more stories, play them longer. Hopefully we’ll get longer scenes, like they did in the old days, because at the minute everything is so fast paced. In fact, I was just speaking to our new producer (Kate Oates) about having longer scenes…” So does that mean more Sally in 2017? Hopefully!
Other topics that were brought up include Hayley’s exit storyline. “When an actress like Julie decides to leave, we have to make that storyline spectacular. It’s hard to watch, but we’re so proud of it,” Kieran said.
“It’s sad when an actor decides to leave, but it’s a great opportunity as a writer to write some great stuff,” adds Debbie. She also reminisced about the 2015 live episode, which she wrote, featuring the death of Callum Logan. “It was like a military operation. And the after-party was brilliant. It was so well produced, no mistakes, which is a little disappointing.”
Kieran recalled a scene from the episode, in a kebab shop, which featured a sound issue. “The sound department were GUTTED. But I told them I was relieved that the mistake happened, because it proved it was a live episode!”
Sally had some great memories of the “quirky” actors she played opposite many years ago, including actress Jill Summers (Phyllis). “She went to the loo and came back with toilet roll on her skirt!” she also had fond memories of the tech runs, where the actors would rehearse each episode in front of the camera and lights. “All the older actors would turn up and play their scenes in their own clothes, because it was just a tech run. All these actors, in character, but wearing their own fur coats and top hats!”
Sadly, after two and a half hours, the evening was over. But I got to see Connor downstairs, and managed to grab a cheeky photo.
The old set may be deserted, rotting away and ready to be demolished after years of faithful service. But with actors like Sally and Connor, and people like Debbie and Kieran behind the scenes carrying the torch, Coronation Street is still very much alive and kicking, and will be for many years to come.
Thanks to Tommy Cowell.
Follow him on twitter and have a look at his website.
Would you like to write a guest blog post? Details here.
Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter | Download our free App | Visit Corrie.net
NEW! Coronation Street Blog - the book.
A must for all Corrie fans!
Please read our advice for leaving comments on the Coronation Street Blog
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License
Our Top 10 Blog Posts in last 7 days (automatically updated)
Our blogger Jordan was invited recently to ITV to interview Chris Harper about playing Nathan Curtis and to find out about the grooming st...
Pic: Daily Mirror / Eamonn and James Clarke It looks like Craig is going to be Bethany's hero, not just her friend, when he comes to...
Tom Shaw, the husband of Paula Lane, who played Kylie Platt in Coronation Street, is joining the show! Tom will be playing a new charac...
Pic The Sun / Eamon and James Clarke Has Coronation Street ever done a quicksand story before? Indeed, has any soap? It's an unusua...
Andy Whyment, who plays Kirk Sutherland in Coronation Street, is on the front cover of this week's OK! magazine talking about renewin...
Gail gets some news that fair brightens her day in next week's Coronation Street. She finds out she's going to be a grandma yet a...
Could Michelle Connor be the next Coronation Street character to have her name over the door at the Rovers Return? Corrie producer Kate Oa...
Tonight - Wednesday 19 April 2017 - the husband of ex-Corrie actor Paula Lane will turn up in Coronation Street. Paula, you'll remem...
There's a good interview with Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle McDonald in Coronation Street, in this week's Inside Soap magazine . S...
There's a story in The Sun today which says Pat Phelan's daughter is coming to Coronation Street. As with all tabloid spoilers, t...
Click on a name to find out more about your Corrie favourites!
adam barlow aidan connor alan halsall alex bain alexander bain alison king alison sinclair all about soap awards alma baldwin amy barlow amy kelly andrea beckett andy whyment anna windass antony cotton audrey roberts awards baby Oliver barbara knox barlows battleaxes becky mcdonald behind the scenes ben price ben tagoe bet gilroy bet lynch beth tinker bethany platt betty driver betty turpin betty williams betty's hotpot bev callard beverley callard bill roache billy mayhew billy the vicar blanche hunt brian packham brooke vincent bruno langley can i visit the coronation street set Canada canadian coronation street fans carla connor Cath Tyldesley catherine tyldesley cathy matthews celebrities on coronation street characters joining coronation street characters leaving coronation street cherylee houston chesney brown chris gascoyne chris harper claire king classic corrie clothes worn on coronation street colson smith competition connor mcintyre conversation street coronation street coronation street art coronation street babies Coronation Street Blog - the book coronation street cartoons coronation street fan events coronation street fan of the week coronation street fans coronation street funerals coronation street history coronation street in canada coronation street look-a-like coronation street map coronation street men coronation street merchandise coronation street news coronation street preview coronation street spoilers coronation street weekly update coronation street weekly updates coronation street writers craig tinker damon alexis-rochefort damon rochefort daniel brocklebank daran little david neilson david platt debbie oates debbie rush debbie webster deirdre barlow deirdre hunt denise osbourne derek griffiths dev alahan eileen derbyshire eileen grimshaw Elle Mulvaney ellie leach ellie-louise leach elsie tanner emily bishop emily nugent ena sharples erica stewart exclusive interview exercise dvds famous people who have been in corrie fat brenda favourite females favourite males faye windass feckless fellas in coronation street filming locations filming mistakes fiz brown fiz stape florizel street flying ducks gail rodwell gary windass gary's army diaries gay and lesbians gay men in coronation street gay men in soaps gay women in soaps granada manchester coronation street set granada studios gurn of the week helen flanagan helen worth hilda ogden hilda ogden's curlers Hope Stape hot pot how to contact coronation street inside soap inside soap magazine izzy armstrong jack p shepherd Jack P. Shepherd jane danson jean alexander jennie mcalpine jigsaw jimmi harkishin job vacancies at coronation street joe duttine johnny connor jonathan harvey julie goodyear julie hesmondhalgh kabin kate fitzgerald kate ford katherine kelly kathy jones katie mcglynn ken barlow kev webster kevin webster kieran roberts kirk sutherland kylie platt kylie turner kym marsh leanne barlow leanne battersby leanne tilsley liam bairstow lily platt lisa george liz mcdonald lloyd mullaney Lucy Fallon luke britton maggie jones malcolm hebden manchester tart marc baylis maria connor mark llewellin martin sterling mary taylor matriachs maxine's bench michael le vell michelle connor mikey north mikey north miley windass minnie caldwell mothers on the cobbles music in the rovers nathan curtis new set new zealand newton and ridley nick tilsley nick's bistro nigel pivaro no.1 Coronation Street no.11 coronation street no.13 coronation street no.3 coronation street no.5 coronation street no.6 coronation street no.7 coronation street no.9 coronation street norris cole norris cole's brother nuttalls brewery odd side of the street official coronation street website oldham coliseum oliver battersby on location opening titles original cast our blog is the best blog in the world outside broadcast paper boys paper girls pat phelan pat phoenix patti claire patti clare paula lane peter barlow peter gunn pets on coronation street pictures of the coronation street set pigeons pillars of the community platt family plot holes props qasim akhtar quay street returning characters rita fairclough rita littlewood rita sullivan rita tanner road to coronation street rob donovan rob mallard romanian holiday rosamund street rosie webster rovers bosses rovers fire rovers return rovers return barmaids rovers return fire rovers return landlady roy and hayley roy cropper roy's rolls roys rolls ryan thomas sair khan sally webster sally and tim sally dynevor sally dyvenor Sally Metcalfe sally webster sally whittaker sam aston samia ghadie samia longchambon sarah platt Sarah-Louise Platt schmeichel sean tully shayne ward shelley king simon barlow simon crowther simon gregson sinead tinker six episodes per week sophie webster special effects speculation spin-off spoilers state of the street steve mcdonald storyline speculation storylines streetcars sue cleaver sue johnston sue nicholls susan barlow susan oudot sylvia cropper sylvia goodwin terry duckworth the corrie years the kabin the Nazirs the newspaper boy the road to coronation street through the years tim metcalfe tina o'bren tina o'brien Tina O’Brien tiricia hopkins todd grimshaw tony warren Tony Warren inspiration tours of coronation street toyah battersby tracy barlow trafford set tram crash tricia hopkins tyrone dobbs underworld underworld sign unofficial book unofficial merchandise unseen characters viaduct street victoria court fire vip bloggers walking tours watch coronation street online weatherfield weatherfield arms weatherfield council weatherfield county weatherfield county football club weatherfield fire station weatherfield gazette weatherfield haulage Weatherfield high Weatherfield Open Days weatherfield style weatherfield wayfarer websters' autos wedding wedding dress weddings weekly awards weekly update where have you seen william roache William Roache Interview window cleaners writers for soaps Yasmeen nazir zeedan nazir