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Wednesday 29 August 2018

Fan Review: Coronation Street Cast vs Fans Quiz 2018

Michael from our friends over at the Coronation Street podcast Conversation Street took part in the Coronation Street Cast vs Fans Quiz in Manchester last week.   Here, Michael shares his experience with fans. 

You can hear more about the event on the most recent episode of the podcast. Visit their blog and follow them on Twitter

Last Thursday, I made the long drive up to Manchester to take part in a special quiz held at Crazy Pedro's pizza parlour in the Northern Quarter. Organised by quiz aficionados Quizzly Bears and Woody Wade, who's been responsible for co-ordinating all of the Corrie related events around Manchester Pride for a number of years now, the contest was a chance for members of the public to put their knowledge of all things Weatherfield to the test, whilst raising money for Pride at the same time. 

They would be going up against a team made up of some of the cast of Coronation Street, which this year consisted of Corrie quiz alumni Shelley King (Yasmeen) and Georgia Taylor (Toyah), along with first-timers Charlie de Melo (Imran), Rob Mallard (Daniel), Melanie Hill (Cathy) and Mikey North (Gary). If you were at the event or have seen pictures since, however, you'll have noticed that there were a handful of other people making up the cast team. As well as the aforementioned Woody and a couple of guests' plus ones, one other member stood at the far end of the cast table...and that was me!

Michael with Mikey North
It still seems unbelievable to me as I'm writing this blog nearly a week later, but yes, somehow I managed to end up as one of Team Corrie, rubbing shoulders with some of my favourite actors on the show. How on earth did that happen? Let's rewind a bit to earlier in the day.

I'd arrived in Manchester late morning; the sky was overcast and there was the distinct prospect of what I'm sure I remember Sally Metcalfe calling a 'Manchester smile' in the air. Me being me, I'd brought neither a raincoat nor an umbrella to deal with such an eventuality, but nevertheless, I set about exploring Media City as soon as I'd checked into my nearby AirBnB, in the hope of catching a glimpse of a Corrie cast member in the vicinity of the studios. 

Me and Our 'ilda
I was in luck! Not only did I spot Jimmi Harkishin on the phone near the tram stop, I also bumped into Shelley King crossing over the Media City footbridge, who was kind enough to chat with me for a minute or so and confirm that she would indeed be coming to the quiz that evening.
With a good few hours to go before the event was due to start, I spent the rest of the day travelling back and forth between Media City and the Manchester centre by tram. Lunch was at Annie's, the excellent tea room owned by Jennie McAlpine and her partner, and having spotted a number of giant bee sculptures dotted around the centre, I was reminded that there was supposed to be one decorated to look like Hilda Ogden. Thanks to a photo here on the Coronation Street Blog, I was able to find 'Hilda Bugden' outside 55 King Street, and took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of my own.

It was around mid-afternoon when the heavens eventually opened, and to cut a long story short, I got completely drenched through. When 6:45 rolled around, I squelched into Crazy Pedro's, my coat pockets full of new socks that I had to dash into Primark to purchase, and I plonked myself down on a bar stool. Not being one for pubs or bars, I did feel a little awkward as I sat there by myself, nursing a pint of lemonade, and I was certainly relieved when, twenty minutes or so later, Charlie de Melo walked into the room. Having already made Charlie's acquaintance before thanks to the podcast, and having only interviewed him the previous week, it was great to see a familiar face, and we soon got chatting again. Just before seven thirty, he went off to join some of the other cast members for a photo opportunity, and when the clock struck half past, the crowd of fans started to be let into the side room where the quiz was to take place.

When I went to the same quiz last year, which was held at the nearby Black Dog Ballroom, I remember walking sheepishly into the quiz room and being ushered onto a table with other people who had come on their own, so we could all make a team together. No such luck this year - it was up to me to find somewhere to sit. Oh 'eck.. was I going to have to talk to people I didn't know and ask if I could be on their team? Not the sort of thing I'm comfortable with. It was then that I heard the voice of my very own fairy godmother, who I'd run into earlier that day: Shelley King had spotted me and could clearly see I didn't know what to do with myself. "Come and join our team, Michael!" she called. "We could probably do with your help!" Well I wasn't going to turn down an opportunity like that, was I? Checking that she was actually serious and that the other members of the team sitting next to her were okay with it (one of whom, fortunately, was Charlie), I went up to the table and made myself at home. Within the next ten minutes or so, Georgia Taylor had arrived (another good friend on Twitter who I'd had the pleasure to meet in person a few times before) and I'd been introduced to everyone else on the table.

Georgia, Charlie and Michael from Conversation Street  (Credit: Georgia Taylor)
Can I just make a point of saying how warm and welcoming everyone was to me? Here I was, just a Corrie fan who only a handful of the team members knew about before the quiz, being accepted onto a table with actual members of the Coronation Street cast. As the evening went on, I got a chance to talk to most of them - Shelley and I discussed the upcoming Corrie DNA documentary whilst Mikey told me about his experiences on E4's All Star Driving School - and every single one of them was a real pleasure to spend time with. It also soon became apparent that I knew my stuff when it came to the Corrie quiz questions too, and before long, they were looking at me to give or confirm answers. I just hoped I was saying the right thing!

The first round involved looking at pictures of ten murdered Corrie characters and writing down who had killed them. They ranged from the relatively easy (Maxine Peacock) to the trickier (Tony Horrocks), but we finished the round feeling fairly confident we'd got them all right. Next up came ten Corrie trivia questions. How did Ken's first wife Valerie die? When was the first episode of Coronation Street broadcast? Which decade had the most watched episode of Corrie? Again, I didn't think we'd dropped any marks as the round ended. The next round, however, was never going to be my forte: LGBT history - only fair, considering the money raised from this event was going to Manchester Pride! Truthfully, I don't think I could have answered a single question on my own in this round, but I had a good team around me - Rob Mallard was a particular asset at this point in the evening - and we were able to write something down in most of the answer boxes.

As the answers to the first questions were read out, there were cheers all around the room as people realised they had got questions right, whilst on the cast table, high fives were exchanged between me and Mikey North when an answer I'd supplied was confirmed correct. There was one answer given that caused a bit of commotion, and the audience had to persuade the quizmaster that the number of special live episodes produced was indeed three, not two, but when the second half of the quiz was due to start, Team Corrie were feeling pretty good about how we were getting on. Not that we could actually win, of course - it would be a bit of a rum do if the cast were to be awarded a tour of their own workplace if they came in first place!

The quiz continued with a second Corrie round, and it was there that I encountered the first Corrie question I was unable to answer. As much as I tried, I just could not remember the name of the woman that Martin Platt had an affair with in 1999. This, of course, led to some good natured ribbing from my team mates ("Come on Michael! You only just did a character profile of Martin on the podcast a few months ago!" Georgia reminded me). Well it was no good - apart from the fact that some of the team remembered that the character was played by Jill Halfpenny, we just couldn't answer that question (it later turned out she was playing a nurse called Rebecca Hopkins). After a short break, we moved onto the final round.

These breaks, by the way, were scattered liberally throughout the evening, and gave the brave fans who came up to the front of the room a chance to get their photo taken with their favourite cast members. Again, everyone who was asked to be photographed graciously agreed, and, like I said in my write-up of the event last year, if they were feeling at all annoyed about people coming up and bugging them for pictures, they certainly weren't showing it! There were happy smiles around the room all evening - it was a real feel-good event and such a treat for the Corrie fans who got the chance to come along.

The final round was another one where I had no hope of getting any questions right: we were given ten song lyrics from bands originating in Manchester and our job was to name the band. Let's just say I left this one in the very capable hands of my teammates as I scoffed down a couple of slices of Crazy Pedro's pizza, which everyone who came along to the event was treated to.

At the end of the evening, the marks were totted up, but before the highest scorers were announced, the fantasically named Phelan Hot, Hot, Hot got a special prize for best team name. It was then revealed that that the team who had scored the most points - a very respectable 43 out of 50 - was, yes, Team Corrie! We did laugh at this as although we'd joked about winning, it definitely wasn't something we'd expected. Of course, as I said earlier, the cast team couldn't actually take home first prize, and the team with the next highest number of points came to get a photo at the front (and fair play to them - they were a much smaller team than we were, and most definitely the worthy winners!)

The festivities ended around ten o'clock, and everyone started to make their way home. As I lay in bed that night, I was still buzzing inside about the whole experience. Not only had the organisers put on a fantastic event for charity, but I'd actually had the chance to sit at the front as a member of the cast team! I'd like to thank everyone who made Thursday such a special evening for me, from Crazy Pedro's for hosting the event, to Woody and the folk at Quizzly Bears for putting it all together, to my wonderful team mates who really did make me feel an accepted and valued member of the team.

If there's another Cast vs Fans quiz this time next year, you can bet I'll be back again, and if you're reading this and mulling over whether you should come along or not, I'd certainly recommend it. Great event, great people, great cause - an all round excellent night out.

By Michael from the Coronation Street podcast Conversation Street. You can hear more about the event on the most recent episode of the podcast. Visit their blog and follow them on Twitter

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1 comment:

Gilles27 said...

What a great experience!


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