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Friday 14 September 2018

Dev vs Rita - The Battle for the Bottom end of Coronation Street

Something’s got to give. With the arrival of all the new shops and businesses in and around Coronation Street, I’m afraid to say Rita’s Kabin and Dev’s corner shop can’t both survive much longer.

Corrie writers have achieved the almost impossible over the past couple of years, finding a way to make the old cobbled set seem less unrealistic and actually quite relevant to the part of the real world it’s set in. Coronation Street has gone from down and out industrial backstreet, to bohemian Chorltonesque hub, flowing with cash, crime and loads of character. (If you don’t know Chorlton, it’s a conurbation just south of Manchester city centre, known for its small, independent, and yes sometimes pretentious little businesses and eateries, and as a magnet for media and arty types as well as hundreds of property developers. The only thing keeping it anchored to gritty Manchester reality is the fact it’s nestled between Salford and Moss Side and it’s full name is Chorlton-cum-Hardy).

L.S. Lowry's vision of Salford in 1956

Coronation Street and its surrounding areas like Victoria Street now actually represent real areas of Manchester and Salford. But before the recent changes – a thriving pub, bistro, two shops, takewaways, busy factory employing lots of locals, and a very glam group of residents just wasn’t believable. Corrie has always been true to life(ish), more so than other soaps, and the type of neighbourgood Coronation Street started as still exists, I grew up somewhere very similar, but the show itself had left its setting behind long ago. Even as far back as the Bet Lynch years. Someone recently suggested that it would have taken Bet two hours to get all her makeup on – just to go and work in the backstreet pub where Ena Sharples drank. It wasn’t realistic at all, but we suspended our disbelief. But you can only do that for so long. In the real world Coronation Street would have been demolished decades ago and replaced by an industrial estate. Or if it had survived, it would likely be a picture of severe poverty and neglect as we see in many parts of the country today. Of course being originally set in Salford, it could have been knocked down to make way for the fancy new studios of a famous TV soap opera. In any case the street survived, and the smallest businesses in the area survived; Rita’s little “toffee shop” and Dev’s corner shop. But now it could be time for one of them to fall on their sword and shut up shop. Sad though it is, they couldn’t both survive even if one is offering tins of beans and the other magazines. There’s a Co-op round the corner that does both. It’s a sign of the times.

Victoria Street

In the place of Dev’s, the hardware shop Brian and Cathy were plotting to open up would fit perfectly. Or another niche business – a tropical fish shop would be nice and colourful. But not very ethical. Electrical goods? Too boring. Thinking of small businesses that are still open back at home in Rochdale – there are so few. Locksmiths? Sun bed shop? Perhaps…

And instead of Rita’s Kabin, it could simply be turned into a house or more flats – for new Corrie characters to move into. Sean could finally get his own place and stop leeching off his neighbours. Or Kev could expand the garage and take on more business.

The Kabin and the Corner Shop have both played a significant role in Corrie over the years. Who can forget those iconic scenes with Rita guiding Mavis through her troubles behind the counter of the Kabin, or Alf Roberts grumbling at the lack of custom in his corner shop to a disinterested Audrey.

Legendary double act
Legendary double act

Whatever the changes, I’m sad to say – Dev, Rita – time to fight it out. Whose business is worth more to residents of Weatherfield? Who should reign over the bottom end of Coronation Street?


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Humpty Dumpty said...

Very interesting write-up. I grew up in the south so I didn't/don't connect with the early days of Corrie as a reflection of real life. I didn't start watching Corrie until a decade later, The Beatles and Morecambe & Wise having made the North more 'accessible' to the rest of the country. The current retail outlets exist on the Street mainly as a device for characters to meet which is also the case for the factory, although this last one is still an anomaly. Manufacturing hasn't been reinvented in the UK and I find it hard to suspend my disbelief in this version of the rag trade. More believable would be a distribution centre with half the Street working there. Peter Barlow could easily fit in but Carla would have to shift. The really ridiculous thing is that the Community Centre offers characters exactly the right place to meet and move their stories on. Sadly, it's virtually been ignored. As for the point of your blog (and I'm getting there!), both Dev and Rita could carry on but they would have to be bought out by chains. Dev and Rita could still work there but as managers not owners. When Rita is no longer on our screens, which is not far off, Dev's shop could take on all of the Kabin's functions to become an Express outlet of the one of the big supermarkets.

Anonymous said...

When they built the new set that included a tattoo parlor I thought that would be perfect for bringing new characters and having some of the regular younger characters considering getting inked. But unfortunately all we get are scenes in Roys, the Bistro and the Rovers.

Cobblestone said...

Pertinent points, Humpty - except I can’t see a retail chain keeping on a woman in her 80s as manager. It is slightly bonkers, women of Rita and Audrey’s age (to say nothing of the late Betty) still working all day. I keep thinking of Audrey, back in the day, nagging Alfeh about being the richest man in the cemetery.

Anonymous said...

PS does Rita still own the shop? I thought Norris bought it off her.

Anonymous said...

I live in a corner of Salford not unlike Corrie. The corner shops round here are now - a home brew shop, a mini market place, a charity shop, a kitchen fitting/showroom place, a community art shop/gallery and a sun bed/nails place. I find your post very interesting but I actually feel Coronation St is like this area (Salford) but the new bit (Victoria St) is like the Northern Quarter of Manchester and they feel odd because they are in neighbouring streets.

Anonymous said...

Technology also does not seem to touch this street. I would expect a small cab company like Streetcars would find it hard to compete against Uber.

Anonymous said...

I live in Salford and I can honestly say there are very few Uber taxis round here. The vast majority of taxi firms are like Streetcars. So that is spot on

70sStreetFan said...

In truth,the Corner Shop has become much less important as a setting since Dev took it over. Perhaps because there are so many other meeting places nowadays or maybe because Dev isn’t the right character there. In the days of Maggie Clegg,Ren√©e,Alf and Audrey,even Maureen and Maud it was always a hub of gossip and humour. The Kabin with characters like Rita,Norris and sometimes Mary still has some of that flavour. But,not so Dev’s.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you have these in the UK but a street like this one would have a quasi legal cheque cashing placing where they make payday advances at criminal interest rates. Also a pawn shop would be in order.

Anonymous said...

Nope sorry. Yes we have them in the UK, but no, shops like that wouldn't be on street corners like that. Not at all. Shops like you describe would be situated in bigger town centres

MartinS said...

It's not that long since Preston's Petals was Barlow's Buys, a pawn shop run by Tracy. Before that it was Peter's betting shop. Prima Doner, formerly Jerry's Takeaway, has also been Diggory Compton's Bakery and D&S Hardware (run by Dave Hargreaves and Sally Webster).


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