Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Sunday 6 January 2013

Corriefest pics and review - Coronation Street fan convention

To Manchester for two very special Coronation Street events held at the award-winning pub, The Lass o'Gowrie.

First up were two episodes of Coronation Street from 1977 acted out live in front of us in the pub by a wonderful team of actors. The audience followed the action around the pub watching two full half-hour performances as Annie Walker had her delusions of grandeur crushed underfoot when she found out the monogrammed (or mammogrammed as Hilda Ogden called it) carpet with AW on it was nothing more than an offcut from the Alhambra Weatherfield bingo hall.  

For a full review of the Coronation Street 1977 Live! plays, do please have a look here.

Picture from Coronation Street 1977 Live! copyright Elspeth Mary Moore - see many more here.

It's not too late to see these plays as they run for another couple of days.  Buy tickets and find out more here.


Well, if that wasn't exciting enough, the next day we set off back to the Lass o'Gowrie pub bright and early in the morning for a 10am start for Corriefest - the UK's Coronation Street fan convention.  Also turning up early for the event were fellow bloggers and podcasters from Conversation Street, Coronation Street actor Dave Dutton - the man who's had 11 roles on Corrie - and our friends and guest bloggers Nikki and John.   We all trooped off for a coffee and then returned to the pub to take our seats for one of the best days I've ever had as a Coronation Street fan.

With a packed pub and a sell-out event, I was really lucky to sit right at the very front of the action. I felt a bit like the class nerd but got over my embarassment and decided to wear my Corrie anorak with pride and make the most of sitting in the best seat in the house.

MC Charlie Ross, Corriefest
Corriefest kicked off with a warm up from MC Charlie Ross, stand up comedian, TV writer, actor, football fan and bit of a geek - his words, not mine. Find out more about him here.  Charlie introduced us to an amazing bit of footage from 1972 which had long been thought lost and had only recently been found. It was the episode of This is Your Life for Pat Phoenix and was like watching not just Corrie gold,  but pure TV gold.

We then had a screening of another rare programme which had never seen the light of day before.  It was a pilot for a TV show written by Coronation Street writer-turned-producer Harry Kershaw, called Lift Off.  It was a Corrie spin-off starring Graham Haberfield and Neville Buswell who played Jerry Booth and Ray Langton on the Street.  Graham and Neville played their Corrie characters but while on Corrie they were both builders, in Lift Off they'd turned into insurance salesman.  It was interesting to watch and to see what could have been if Lift Off had indeed Taken Off, which it obviously hadn't.  Fred Feast, who played Corrie's Fred Gee, also turned up in the programme as the lift engineer.

Actress Kathy Jones at Corriefest 2013 with Gareth Kavanagh and Charlie Ross
With our minds firmly planted in Coronation Street's past and the golden age of Granada TV, what a delight it was to hear from one of Corrie's first ever dolly-birds!  Actress Kathy Jones, who played Gail's mate Tricia Hopkins, took to the stage and shared some of her history working as a 19 year old on what was then the new Northern drama series.  Find out more about Kathy Jones and Tricia Hopkins here.   After Kathy's turn at the mic, the floor was open to questions from fans.   You can follow Kathy on twitter at @KathyJones.

Casting Director June West at Corriefest 2013 with Jeni Howarth-Williams
Up next on stage was legendary Coronation Street casting director June West. Not only has June cast some of the most iconic characters for Corrie, she also did the casting for the rather fab BBC4 drama The Road to Coronation Street.  June was interviewed by actress Jeni Howarth-Williams, who played Elsie Howard in the Coronation Street 1977 plays held at the Lass o'Gowrie.  

June revealed that actor Rupert Everett is "desperate" to be in Coronation Street and he was almost cast in the role of Lewis Archer but it was given, as we know, to Nigel Havers. 

June gave a good insight into the casting process for Coronation Street and The Road to Coronation Street. She got a big laugh when she said that after Alan Hasall was originally cast as Tyrone Dobbs, one of the Corrie writers saw him on screen for the first time and said: "Well, there's our next Albert Tatlock!"

It was then time for lunch with hotpot served behind the bar and the chance to meet some lovely people I'd only ever chatted to on twitter before - including our guest blogger Kel who is on twitter @kelwrites and Coronation Street extra Jonny Grimshaw, who is on twitter @jonnygforce and I even got the chance to meet one of our Coronation Street fans of the week.  What a cracking day this was turning out to be!

Writer John Stevenson at Corriefest 2013 with Corriefest organiser and Lass o'Gowrie landlord Gareth Kavanagh

After lunch we took our seats again for the main man, Coronation Street writer John Stevenson. John wrote his first script in May 1976 and his work includes writing the Ken/Deidre/Mike love triangle storyline and the January 2000 "two-hander" featuring Raquel and Curly Watts.  He also wrote out Alan Bradley by killing him off getting knocked over by the Blackpool tram.

John revealed that one side of the character of Annie Walker was partly based on his own mum. Now, there's an admission to make! He also said that Sir Laurence Olivier wanted to be on Coronation Street and the writing team had him pencilled in to make an appearance on the show - as a tramp!

What a great bloke and wonderful storyteller John Stevenson was.  As you can see from the picture below, the audience were rapt.  This picture shows just a fraction of the audience, with yours truly in seventh heaven at the very front, and is copyright Debbie Manley, who is on twitter at

Corriefest 2013 at The Lass o'Gowrie
After John Stevenson's fantastic talk, we then had The Big Fat Coronation Street Quiz with a quizmaster who had once appeared on Coronation Street. He played an extra who was thrown out of the Kabin by Rita for looking through mucky magazines.  We know this because it was a true or false question in the quiz! You can follow him on twitter @Eatmymindquiz

Our quiz team comprised of Flaming Nora, Sunny Jim, Fat Brenda, actor Dave Dutton, Nikki Beresford and John Beresford. The team from the Coronation Street Blog, I'm very proud to say, won the quiz! We very narrowly beat the team from Conversation Street and walked away with the top prize of Coronation Street Monopoly (which had been supplied by two of our team members!).

We also won a pot of cash which we donated to the charity which Corriefest was supporting - Myeloma UK.

And then, finally, to bring the day to a close, the wonderful Sue Jenkins took to the stage. Sue played Rovers Return barmaid Gloria Todd from 1985 - 1988.   

Sue Jenkins at Corriefest 2013 with David MacCreedy - co-director of Coronation Street 1977
Sue talked about being brought into Coronation Street for two episodes only while Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch, was away from the show.  However, she made such an impression on the show's bosses that she was asked to stay on.  Sue is also the mother of Richard Fleeshman, and she was pregnant while she was working behind the bar at the Rovers. Richard, of course, went on to play Corrie's Craig Harris the Goth and is now playing on Broadway in musicals. 

Sue revealed that she was in very much in awe of Julie Goodyear when she first started work on Corrie and even though she and Julie became very good friends over the time she was working on the Street, she always felt a little in awe of her. She told a funny story about being at a charity do with Julie Goodyear where Julie Goodyear introduced Sue as "my barmaid" even in real life.   It was fun to listen to Sue talk about her time on Corrie working with Julie Goodyear as Bet, while being overlooked by a huge mural of Bet Lynch on the wall of the pub.

After Sue finished, she took questions from the audience and posed for photos with fans. As well as being a huge Corrie fan, I was probably an even bigger fan of Brookside when it was going and to me, Sue Jenkins is better known as Jackie Corkhill. I would've loved to have dared ask her to say, just once, in that scouse accent she had on the show: "Drucks, Jimmy? Drucks" but it was niether the time nor the place! 

And with that, it was time to head home.  Corriefest has been a wonderful experience and I do hope it'll run next year too.  With thanks to all at The Lass o'Gowrie for organising it for us Corrie fans.

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Carry On Blogging! said...

Thanks for such a great blog post on Corriefest! It all sounds wonderful! I do hope it runs again next year so I can attend!!

Digger said...

Fantastic write-up of a fantastic day. Nikki and I will definitely be joining you again if it runs next year. As we found out yesterday, the Lass is up against hard times following the closure of the nearby BBC studios and the move to Media City, so us Corrie fans have to support this absolute gem in the heart of the City that spawned our favourite show!

bbhilda said...

Thank you Glenda, great write up. Makes me wish I could have been there all the more. If I lived there, I would be at the Lass O'Gowrie all the time, I love live theatre, especially the small productions.

ChiaGwen said...

Fat Brenda was with you..!!!...did you remind her to write more Cream Horns..?? Sounds like you had a great time - if I win the Canadian Lottery I'll be over next year.

Kate said...

A great writeup of what sounds like a truly wonderful event! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing with us! Do wish I could have been there. You Coronation Street Blog winning quiz-meisters must do more quizzes on here for us! I loved the Big Fat Quiz of the Year.


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