What better way to spend two hours on a Wednesday afternoon in early April than to take a VIP tour around what is now the old set of Coronation Street?
Everything about the tour was absolutely, fantastically marvellous.
It’s staggering to think that since December 1960, Coronation Street has been brought to our living rooms from the very sets on the tour. To give an idea of how long ago that is, the price of milk was 3d a pint. It was eleven years before decimalisation and 3d is worth about 1.5pence. I know!
The tour was open from 2pm -4 pm and we had almost total freedom to go where we liked. That said, there is a rough order to the tour. We started off in the ‘Green Room’ which hardly has anything green in it, let alone enough green to call the room after the colour. The Green Room is the quiet space set aside for the cast to learn their lines in peace and quiet. To all intents and purposes it looks like your great-aunt’s sitting room. There is nothing of grandeur there.
We then went through the corridor of the stars, where there are photographs of past characters, on either side on the walls, many of whom have gone to glory. One woman in particular was featured there in all her wonderfulness – the inimitable Elsie Tanner.
Some dressing rooms were open to view. Several were like home from home, whereas others had no adornment at all. Helen Worth’s (Gail’s) was one such and the reason she had not made it her own was to do with suspicion. She thought that if she made it too cosy and homely, she might be tempting providence and would not have her contract renewed.
Next was the wardrobe room, where on industrial strength clothes rails hung the specific clothes for each character. A lot of thought goes into what a person would wear. Gloria’s wardrobe `consisted of high end high street- Hobbs and Phase Eight. She obviously left then behind as she roared off with Dennis.
The Hair and Makeup Section looked very ordinary, Audrey’s salon appearing much more glamorous. The women of the cast are usually a half hour in hair and make-up, but the men, a mere fifteen minutes. I couldn’t resist sitting in the chair for a few moments.
Most interesting of all to me were the interiors of the ‘houses’.
At the Duckworth’s (9 Coronation Street) now lived in by Tyrone, Fiz, Ruby and Hope, was the chair that both Jack and Vera died in. And right there, sitting in the interior was the wonderful Stuart Blackburn, now the boss at our favourite street. He had time for everyone, was particularly friendly, but was careful not to give anything away.
Carla’s flat was on display with its ridiculously clean kitchen; so clean because she hardly ever (never) uses it. One of the tour guides was telling us that a lot of thought went into decisions about people’s living spaces, using examples in catalogues to make decisions.
The inside of the Platts’ house (8 Coronation Street) was very interesting and we were told that all the kitchen appliances actually work and that when you see one of the characters cooking , they are actually cooking, though what they eat is provided by a small kitchen space nearby, but not for the viewers’ eyes.
The infamous stairs down which David pushed his mother Gail were on full view, but it was surprising to see that the stairs went nowhere – they just stopped abruptly.
Into The Rovers Return and there, propping up the bar was none other than Richard Hillman! The actor Brian Capron was very pleasant and happy to talk about his time as Richard Hillman. Coronation Street’s most notorious killer was there to help launch the tour. Not a murderous glance in sight!
Then out onto the cobbles – Wonderful! It’s all there along with the quite recent Barlow’s Buys, the kebab shop and all the rest.
The tour guides are excellent – clued up, friendly and even willing to hold an umbrella over your head as you venture outside, just when the rain came down. The rain seemed fitting somehow and added just a little something extra to give even more credibility to the wonderful street that was Coronation Street for 53 years.
It is very well worth a visit and it is only on for six months. Get your ticket now. It's only open for six months. After that, who knows?
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