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Thursday, 14 March 2019

Blog Exclusive: Behind the scenes at Trim Up North (Part 1 of 2)

We're delighted to bring you a Coronation Street Blog exclusive as we take a peek behind the scenes into the making of Corrie's newest set - Trim up North.

Joining me here on the Blog for a special two-part interview with lots of exclusive, never before seen pictures, is Rosie Mullins-Hoyle who is the Production Designer, Head of Design at Coronation Street.  Rosie has worked on Coronation St since 2005 in the Art Department and has worked as Production Designer of the show since 2013.

Here we go with our interview! I hope you really enjoy reading this.

Me: Trim up North - what a great name! What came first, the design or the name?
Rosie: They came together. I was informed of the brilliant name via Producer Iain MacLeod during the early design stages.

Me: How do you start planning and designing a new set for Corrie? What's the very first things that you do?
RosieI will have regular catch ups with Iain and he will give me an early warning of what new sets are planned for the show. With it being a continuing drama, people are always surprised at the number of sets that we build each year! Some of these sets may only be seen for a couple of episodes and people are not always aware that it is a set.

With the Barbers set I was aware of it around 6 months before it aired. We talk about ideas of the look of it, the size of the set, how it should feel and what areas the set should be made up of. Importantly we discussed what area of the Lot set it should be homed - this can massively effect the interior look of a set. The majority of our sets are studio sets as the exterior set has a number of facades rather than full buildings.

Me: Can you talk us through the process of creating a new set - from initial idea to what we see on screen?
Rosie: With Trim Up North, after our early conversations it was decided that the barbers set would reside in Redbank Brothers Mill in Victoria St taking over the two ground floor windows in the front of the shop. This building is a facade so the set would be housed in one of the studios and would need to be practical for multicamera shooting.

Iain MacLeod had discussed wanting combined use for the set - it was a barbers but with a bar, a chillout area and table football. On a practical sense the set could not be too large as it needed to be housed within an existing studio set space but it needed to be big enough to achieve all of this and to be able to film in easily.

The early ideas led to a cool, trendy almost Northern Quarter of Manchester vibe that the brothers were wanting to create. Quirky and the sort of place that you would to hang out. Nick as a character has always been stylish with a good eye for design in his previous businesses and flat.  David is younger and more experienced within the hair industry but would have a strong opinion on the look and design of his new business but would make some stranger design choices (like his wish to have a wease! - more on that in tomorrow's part of the interview)

I created a mood board of looks that I felt best represented the set and the characters involved. Iain & myself went through the ideas and this provided a strong identity for the build and layering of the set.

The type of building it was to be housed allowed me to design it whereby the feature windows and redbrick could be incorporated immediately linking you to the external Mill building that we see on Victoria St.

A careful timeline is created with end points for each stage of the work as work needs to be carried out on it by many different roles within the design team and working closely with the lighting team. I work with the Supervising Art Director and Construction Manager to check we can meet these dates and ensure the set is studio for the right time ready for filming.

This set was a tricky one in that it started life onscreen as a closed down estate agents before seeing it refurbed in stages into the final look which has recently aired as Trim Up North. This requires careful planning and working closely with the scheduling team as we shoot our of order and at a very fast pace.

I then begin to draw it up by hand drawing up plans and elevations which are then handed over to the Construction Manager and Foreman Joiner and they begin the build. I work with them on all details - windows, doors, architrave, which walls should come out etc. They normally take 6 - 8 weeks to construct the set.

During this time I create a buyers' list of all items required to dress the set and we appointed an adviser, a lovely barber named Chris Brownless to help make sure every dressing detail on the set was correct. The 3 Production Buyers worked through a list that 79 pages long ensuring all orders arrived on time and working out logistics for oversees items and items from further afield! We also reuse many dressings from our large prop stores. I am a big fan of reclaimed items that have a natural character and can help to tell a story. Some of my favourite buys for this were the retro teak sideboards which were then customised and adapted by the construction team to create a bespoke sink unit with divide and a reception counter. There are also many specific carefully selected artwork, unusual items like retro chairs, a motorbike and vintage barber's display pieces.

Many wallpaper samples and fabric samples are gathered before careful selections are made and making sure the items are practical for filming as well as suitable for the look we are trying to achieve. A team of Scenic Artists and Painters and Decorators apply all finishes to the set including the replication of the red and blue brickwork to match the exterior bricks but by using lightweight plaster bricks. Before the set goes into studio, using references, they paint the studio floor to mirror a design of wood flooring and black and white tiles.

I produce a detailed lighting, switch and socket plan and work with the Lighting team on the best positions for these.

For the barbers an upholster, Alan Eccleston, was appointed for the bespoke leatherette barbers wall units with stud details. Working with one of our very talented Graphic Designers Zoey we discuss the concept and research various examples of fonts and branding that are in keeping with our barber shop.

1920s gold etch lettering is agreed as being the perfect compliment to the rest of the set and Zoey then works with the Scenic Artists to provide images and templates so that the final logo designs can be hand painted onto specific areas of the set like the windows. Almost all of the products that will be used on the set have been created from scratch.

The final stage of the process is the dressing of the set. Once all of the purchases are in a dedicated dressing team work alongside myself and from plans and reference pictures. The team help to display all items and offer input and ideas to bring the set to life. Chris the Barber then returned to the set to ensure all of the stations were dressed correctly and that all dressings were in keeping with any Barbers you may find in the area.

I work alongside the Head of departments - Cameras, Lighting and Sound, Make up and Costume in the set design process. I will share plans and talk through the set and we work together so the overall look is coherent and practicalities are met.

Finally the design teams who will be working on the set are given a tour of the set and shown how it works and set photos are taken.

Fascinating stuff and a real peek behind the scenes with a lovely lady from Corrie.

Read part 2 of our interview where we have more on the set design at Trim Up North and the answer to this question: When is a weasel not a weasel?  Yes! All is revealed about Vin Diesel the Weasel in  part two of the interview.  Read it here.

With thanks to Rosie Mullins-Hoyle and ITV for this wonderful interview.

Fancy writing a guest blog post for us? All details here!  

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