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Saturday 18 May 2013

My wonderful trip to Weatherfield (Part Two)

In part two of my report on my very exciting trip to Weatherfield, I'll be bringing you up to speed on what Stuart Blackburn had to say about Coronation Street under his tenure. I'll also be filling you in on what happened when I joined the journalists for round table interviews with some lovely Corrie actors, and finally I'll bring you one or two interesting (and slightly unusual) titbits.
So to begin...incoming Corrie producer Stuart Blackburn used one word to sum up how it feels to sit in that particular hot seat - awe. Mr Blackburn very obviously has a passion for the Street. He spoke quite movingly about what it means to him and where he wants to take the programme while he's in charge. Stuart said he felt honoured to be working with such an outstanding cast and crew. His vision is to maintain Corrie's position as Britain's best television drama, highlighting its down to earth, working class roots and not forgetting the impact it originally had back in the 1960s.
No major spoilers were revealed, although the next few months will see certain storylines peak. The Platt’s will feature heavily – Nick and Kylie’s secret will grow (poor David!) We will also see more of the Price family as Stella and Karl move their relationship to the next level, although there may be a few surprises along the way. There will also be more of Carla, Peter, Rob and Tracy as well as the development of the major storyline focussing on Roy and his family. I’m sure regular blog contributors will all have thoughts on these!
Now the thought of round table interviews with regular journalists put the fear of god into me I freely admit. We gathered in groups at three different tables while the actors rotated round us in pairs, while Stuart Blackburn listened intently from a safe distance. Unfortunately for me, most of the journalists asked what I would call safe, mundane questions – they were obviously very well-versed in the art of such things. I was slightly awestruck by the entire event, however there were a couple of interesting moments!
First up were Stella and Karl, aka Michelle Collins and John Michie. When the journalists introduced themselves, they missed me out (!) so Michelle locked eyes with me and made sure I was included. When I said I was from the Coronation Street Blog, her immediate reaction was to ask whether I was the nice or the nasty blogger! I was like a rabbit caught in the car headlights! Before I could reply, John Michie stepped in and confirmed that as I was a fellow Scot I must be the nice one! I wasn’t going to disagree!
Next up were Cherylee Houston and Mikey North (Izzy and Gary). I really warmed to both these actors – I could have listened to them for much longer. They both very obviously care about their characters and the street in general and were keen to point out how much they had learned and how far they had developed since they arrived on the cobbles.
Finally we met Michelle Keegan and Chris Fountain (Tina and Tommy). By this point I was becoming a tad frustrated with some of the questions my journalist colleagues were asking so I stuck my brass neck out and asked one of my own! All the journalists were asking the same kind of questions about what it was like to work with a baby, how the actors felt about their characters’ I chipped in with the last question of the day. I was keen to hear what these younger actors felt about working with Corrie legend, Barbara Knox (Rita).
I was really impressed by how genuine both Michelle Keegan and Chris Fountain were in their replies. Both actors are clearly in awe of Barbara and rightly so. As you would expect Ms Knox is always on time, always knows her lines and never, ever makes mistakes! She is also a very giving actor, helping these younger actors develop and refine their characters. I got the feeling that although both the actress and the character are legendary and much celebrated, the lady behind the Queen of the Kabin is actually very down to earth and normal, while also quietly demanding a bit of respect. And fair play to her I say! Their final comment was that everyone knows when Barbara Knox is on set! I bet she has the same wonderful aura about her that the Street does when you first experience it.
 And finally, some interesting little titbits for you:
  • Mikey North (Gary) is regularly handbagged by old ladies in the street – regardless of whether his on screen character is misbehaving!
  • Michelle Keegan (Tina) quite obviously finds Norris hilarious! Every time he appeared on screen, her distinctive chuckle could be heard quite clearly!
  • Michelle Collins quite frequently wants to give Stella a good shake! This pleased me no end...
  • Continuity go so far as to give Sally’s garden a name, and update Rita’s intercom to “Tanner” but they leave the Good Luck cards on Stella’s mantelpiece blank!
  • According to Chris Fountain (Tommy) Michelle Keegan has a terrible singing voice that nobody can bear to listen to!
  • Stuart Blackburn told a story that involved a pair of speedo shorts. However I doubt our readers are quite ready for that particular denouement...

I hope my blogs have given a good idea of just how thrilled I was to be at Coronation Street. It was such an amazing experience to see the Street, the studios and to meet some of the cast. I really hope you have enjoyed reading about my fantastic adventures in Weatherfield!
Special thanks once again to Joe for the fantastic photos

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Chewy said...

Eek! @ the awkward moment with Michelle Collins! lol. I have to say, Stuart Blackburn seems to be doing some good at Corrie, the storylines recently have started to feel a bit more grounded in reality.

Great pics too, especially the last one!

Llifon said...

So you didn't say what you thought about Stella to Michelle then Graeme? ;)

I think it's the producer's fault for over-exposing the character, and not the actor tbh.

I am glad you asked about Barbara Knox. I would've asked that as well.

I'm in awe that you got access to the street. You must know some contacts! ;)

Carry On Blogging! said...

Thanks Chewy - I had some help with the photos, I have a very talented fiance! I was quite impressed with Mr B I have to say.

Carry On Blogging! said...

I kept my council Llifon! Anyway, my thoughts on the character are v separate from my thoughts on the actress herself, who was very down to earth and charming.

i did think of you when I asked about Ms Knox!

David said...

At last, more Stella! The fan campaigns worked!

Glenda Young said...

Thanks for these wonderful insights Graeme, on behalf of all of us here on the Coronation Street Blog - you've done us all proud.

PS: email me the story about the speedos!!

Carry On Blogging! said...

You are very welcome! It was a total pleasure from beginning to end!

And ok, I'll fill out the speedos story for it were...

Anonymous said...

"Imagine you found yourself granted an audience with the Coronation Street Producer, Stuart Blackburn. What would you ask him? Personally I hope I would seize the opportunity for all it was worth..."

I'm disappointed mate. Given what you've said before, I thought you'd use the opportunity to tear St. Ella a new one :)

Carry On Blogging! said...

Ah but it wasn't St Ella I met, she being a fictitious character...I don't much like the character, but the actress herself was very charming.

Janice. said...

Graeme-While I understand your need to be polite and 'nice' I don't think we can separate the actress from the character. We can all think of actors who exude such charisma and style that they can read a phone book and it is still watchable. Great actors consistently rise above mediocre scripts. My objection to Stella is not that she is in every scene, but because she is uninteresting, bland, monotone AND in every scene. Over the years many Corrie characters have appeared who had no redeeming qualities and yet they were watchable. Cilla comes to mind. Nothing about her character was admirable but the actress made me smile by the way in which delivered her lines. Stella might work fine if she had been played by another actress.

Ida Reigns said...

I have to say that I am in no way a Stella fan and have never been, despite actual effort. However, I doubt that any civilized person could berate the actress under this extraordinary opportunity, particularly given her effort to be charming/inclusive. It really does come down to poor writing and over-exposure, which are ultimately the producer's fault.

However, I'd have been tempted to at the very least asked Michelle if she feels that Stella is over-exposed on the Street and her impression of what is behind negative viewer comments. I would have asked Stuart Blackburn his comments in response to negative viewer reception of Stella and why she appears to have so much screen time since her arrival.

Without being offensive, these kinds of questions would have addressed your own personal issues with Stella while gaining some insight from the actress and producer.

Carry On Blogging! said...

Janice - I think to be healthy, we have to separate the actress from the character. We can feel like we know both because she appears in our living rooms so often.

Carry On Blogging! said...

Ida, I take your points but I really just went along as a fan, to experience how wonderful Coronation Street can be, and to have fun. I wasn't there with an axe to grind and I wouldn't have felt comfortable asking those kind of questions.

It was the first event of its kind I had attended, perhaps with more experience, I'd be asking tougher questions. As it is, I had a brilliant time and loved every second.

Chatty Kathy said...

Graeme, you have confirmed our suspicions, leaving no shadow of a doubt: they DO read this blog!

If you had asked hard, uncomfortable questions, you would have not been asked back when there's another press gathering. At least you can continue to remain our "mole".

Janice. said...

Graeme: That is not what I meant. I don't think I know Michelle Collins personally at all. I actually don't care about her personal life or how she is in person. I only care about the quality of her performance as an actress.
She can a good person but she is a lousy actress, which is not the writers' fault.

Glenda Young said...

Graeme did a wonderful job, and most importantly for a Coronation Street fan, enjoyed the day.


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