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Friday, 21 July 2017

Confessions of a Coronation Street Tour Guide (2 of 5)


It's day 2 of Aussie Pete's Confessions of a Coronation Street Tour Guide.

Missed Day 1? It's here! Day 1  

What were the best things about the job?

The great moments at the tour include watching someone get down on bended knee and propose, usually on the street in front of The Rovers or sometimes in the Rovers mid-tour. Somewhat morbid, but the amount of people who lay down at the bottom of the Builder’s Yard pretending to be Tina going splat was hilarious! I took literally hundreds of photos of people laying there, even in the rain! The irony is that Tina fell on the set at Salford Quays, not our set!

It was always a wonderful sight for us guides actually watching the guests’ reactions when they saw various points, things like how small the dressing rooms were, some cast had to share! The video montage had iconic moments, sad moments and comedic moments. The sad moments quite often would bring some fans to tears, sometimes even the guides!

Seeing the first set always got them excited. It gave them perspective on how small they really were and how some things weren’t as real as you’d think! e.g. no floorboards, they’re just painted onto the floor!

Cracking cheesy jokes at the top of the Platt’s staircase always got a laugh. The moment you walk into The Rovers really shocked many. In real life, it’s very small and cramped and is made much bigger with filming techniques. Guests would look so proud holding onto the pumps when posing for their picture behind the bar.

Personally, I always got a kick out of the Underworld set. I found a hidden door where as I led the guests in, I would disappear and then reappear from between a few knickers rails scaring the guests as if I just walked through a wall! I would encourage the guests to stand closer to the office door so when the ‘Ghost of Mike Baldwin’ made an appearance, they would feel the full-force of his booming voice. I actually had a guest jump 2 feet in the air and grab onto another guest in fear!
Many would ask us what the barge was about next to the props. For those who do not remember, Ken Barlow had an affair with actress Martha Fraser in 2009 and she lived on a canal boat. One of our guides always grabbed an onion from off the barge, pointed at it and said ‘Onion Bargey?’

The Duckworths/Dobbs household was another time on the tour that garnered a big emotional response from the guests. Anger at the way copper Kirsty treated Tyrone and the moment when Jack died in his armchair and ‘Our Vera’ briefly returned in spirit form.

The Kabin always gave us guests asking for freebies from the sweets. They are real, sadly I never got to try any, though a few guests did sneak onto the set and steal some on more than one occasion.
We did have golden rule about no photos on the tour, not for legal reason, though we did say this repeatedly and told people off. The reason was if we let everyone take photos, the tour times would triple and we’d never get finished!

The final part of the core section of the tour was always an experience. Watching their faces as they walked through the doors onto ‘The Street’ was breathtaking. I can remember vividly and woman with special needs who walked out with her hands over her mouth and tears started pouring from her eyes. “I can’t believe this. I’ve watched the show for 40 years and it’s like I’m walking through my dreams! I can’t believe I’m really here!” This brought tears to my eyes!

And what were the worst things?
Although the tours were fun, there were sometimes some sadder moments. People getting ill on tour, especially during Summer, more than one heart attack, thankfully no deaths or waters breaking!

The more horrible moment I had was someone who yelled at me that as an Australian, I had no right doing the tours and it should only be UK people doing them, even going as far as to say only Northerners should be doing the tours. It really hurt. I had trouble doing tours for the next few days it was that upsetting.

Did being a tour guide change the way you viewed Corrie as a fan?
I thought it might have, but in all honesty, it didn’t. In fact, I think it gave me a better perspective of the show. Knowing how they filmed in certain ways, and looking for differences between our set and the newer set they film on now. I looked for things that looked larger, the extra window above The Rovers sign, the extension under the viaduct in Rosamund St that leads to Mawdsley St. On out set that’s just a matte backdrop.

Did you meet anyone famous on the tour, any cast members for instance?
My favourite cast member I met was Charlie Lawson, aka Jim ‘so it is’ McDonald. You honestly could not meet a nicer guy. He was warm and friendly and we had a great chat at one point about fine wines!

Many of the cast visited the tours. One of the Green Room walls had all of their signatures on it when they visited. There were three guests however, who didn’t sign the wall… and that’s because they didn’t have hands to sign with! Eccles and the late Schmeichel and Ozzy visited us. They are beautiful dogs and their handlers really look after them well. I even went in on my day off to meet them and for a cuddle with Eccles!

We did have Loose Women film an episode at the tour, they took off the front of The Rover’s set and filmed inside. A handful of the staff were able to be in the audience. In between filming they had a warmup guy interact with the audience, which included getting some of us up off of our chairs and dancing with each other. They dragged me to the front and had me dance in front of the panel. They couldn’t believe I was wearing shorts on the day, as it was sunny but cold! I don’t really feel the cold! Jamelia commented I was a great dancer.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 3 when Aussie Pete reveals some favourite moments behind the scenes.

Missed Day 1? It's here! Day 1  

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3 comments:

maggie muggins said...

Really enjoying these, Aussie Pete! Thanks for sharing your experience, as I've never been on the Tour.

Tvor said...

Love the blog pieces!
The first time I visited the set, just the outdoor set, it really was magic coming out on to the cobbles. The first time I saw the indoor sets, it was amazing how small they are. The cafe and pub especially impressed me. So small yet there are always so many people in it and the actors can move around and do their jobs without bashing into each other flawlessly. Then later, on a couple of subsequent visits including twice on the tour, watching the faces of others come out on the cobbles for the first time, I agree it is the best thing to see their excitement and joy.

Aussie Pete said...

You're more than welcome! It's great to have the opportunity to share the memories.

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