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Friday, 20 April 2018

A View of Victoria Street

Victoria Street, the new extended exterior set of Coronation Street, makes its screen debut this evening, Friday the 20th of April. The sun might be shining today, but it was a very different prospect when my friend and fellow blogger Michael Adams and I travelled to ITV studios in March for the unveiling. While it’s always a treat to tread the cobbles rain or shine, I strangely feel it’s at its most earthy when grey and puddle laden, and this was happily one such day.

On the way in, we could see the new Weatherfield Police Station from the road, and could only guess what awaited us. Once on the other side, the excitement mounted as we leafed through our press packs, filled with news, facts and figures on the new part of the Corrie set. You can read all about those in Welcome to Wider Weatherfield.

We arrived on Coronation Street via the bistro end and walked the length of the street, anticipation building, past the Rovers, left at the salon and right at the florist; it never ceases to feel special. And then, there it was, a whole new set – Victoria Street – blending seamlessly from Victoria Court and the builder’s yard, as if it had always been there.

I was in awe of the work that had been done to make this look like a genuine, authentic, Manchester street. It was fresh, old, full of character, clean and rugged all at once.

After a job involving 18 months planning, 8 months construction, a 1000 strong workforce, 150,000 working hours, 6,500 tonnes of concrete, 2,500 tonnes of stone, 200,000 bricks and brick slips, 350 tonnes of tarmac and, most importantly, 7000 cobbles from the original Coronation Street set and one set of handles from the original Rovers Return, there we stood at the centre of it all, marvelling at the results.

We weren’t the only ones. Joined by producer Kate Oates, a selection of Corrie actors, like the rest of us, were wide-eyed at their surroundings. There was such a lovely atmosphere, and as we gathered in excitement for the official unveiling, it had every bit the feeling of an historic moment. Once the ribbon was cut by a clearly delighted Su Nicholls, we were free to roam the new street.

An instant favourite with me was the beautiful urban garden, not least because at its centre sits a mosaic memorial bench in tribute to the iconic and inimitable Martyn Hett and all those who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena bomb in May 2017. It was so moving, and a real privilege to stand before this bench where a host of emotions and thoughts came to the fore; the beauty of it, the tragedy from which it arose, sadness at the loss of all those people and Martyn, who was a great friend of the blog and an absolute joy to have gotten to know online through his passion for Corrie and beyond. There was also a feeling of happiness, if that makes sense, at the thought of what he would have made of a bench containing his name, created in tribute to him and others, taking pride of place on the show he loved and in such a gorgeous part of the set. I spent a bit of time in that garden on the day, and it was lovely.

Michael and I explored the length and breadth of the new set extension, and several times at that. Weatherfield Police Station, like everything else, is impressively realistic and commands not an insignificant portion of it, though it’s away from Victoria Street itself.

I was rather tickled by the Weatherfield North tram station, through which one must use the aforementioned hallowed handles of the old Rovers Return for access. The tattoo parlour is a surprising addition, and it will be interesting to see Speed Dahl’s contribution considering the Bistro is still in situ on Coronation Street and considers itself the top eatery. There is also the fact that Qasim Akhtar will be departing the role of Zeedan. So, interesting times for the new restaurant. The Costa and Co-op sit side-by-side and didn't seem too commanding; I think this is because the feeling of being on an actual street is so authentic, they don’t look out of place there. Hopefully this will transfer to the screen. As is the case with any show using product placement, it does feel a bit odd to see characters carrying the Costa cups around, but maybe, as was my experience on the set, actual buildings won't have the same effect.

Michael and I chatted with other visitors to the set about how impressive it all looked, and out of the actors present, we had the pleasure of briefly speaking with Tristan Gemmill and Tina O’Brien who were both equally impressed and excited by the new addition to the cobbles.

The street will be seen onscreen for the first time tonight and I can’t wait to see what it looks like, and what scenes will play out on it.

Michael and I had a great day on the set, and that was in no small part down to the warm welcome we received from the people at Corrie. It was a privilege to be there, and an unforgettable experience.

Now, bring on tonight’s double!

By Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes
Facebook: @EmmaHynesWrites
Instagram: emmalouhynes

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1 comment:

Catsmom said...

Where is Victoria St in relation to Coronation Street?


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