Yesterday I was invited along to the world exclusive reveal of the brand new Coronation Street set in Media City UK.
However, it wasn’t the first time I’d stepped onto those famous cobbles. When I was 9 years old I paid, what was then my second visit to Granada Studios, the previous home of Coronation Street. That was back when you were able to visit the set, now of course, the set of Coronation Street is very much closed for the public. I remember, at 9 years old, how wonderful it was to step foot on the cobbles and step into what felt like my television. Coronation Street was always on in the home and the street was so recognisable that to actually be stood on it, was brilliant.
It’s a shame these tours ended, and although I visit many television sets, yesterday’s was extra special. I headed up to Manchester to visit the new Coronation Street home in Media City UK, just across the water from BBC.
So there we were, all huddled in a tent listening to Kieron Roberts, the Executive Producer of the show tell us how today was a sign of the future for the show and how great it was after 53 years, for ITV to invest in such a fantastic new location. Not forgetting how we’d each be leaving with our very own meerkat at the end of the day (RESULT.). Then the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived, the curtains it the back of the tent came down to reveal the brand new set of Coronation Street.
Despite being full of press, the room filled with excitement, I could hear “It’s much bigger than on telly!”, “Look! There’s Audrey’s,”, “Quick! Let’s get a selfie outside the Rovers Return.” And Jane Danson who plays Leanne, asking someone whether she too would be able to get a meerkat! (Not sure how that story ended, but I hope last night she was indeed cosying up to one of the meerkats.)
As I stepped out onto the new street, it struck me that I was taking part in a bit of television history. Everybody recognises the Coronation Street set, and everybody knows it’s moving to a new location, so to be one of the first people ever to step foot onto the cobbles, was a real honour.
Of course, the Rovers Return was the centre of attention, everybody wanting their photograph in front of that famous building. Don’t worry, I did too and you can see it here.
So what’s changed? Well the honest answer is not a lot. At first glance it looks exactly the same, but when you look closely, the street is wider, the houses are bigger, the Rovers Return is wider and now has a second window above it. But as Sue Nicholls (who plays Audrey Roberts) said to me, she wouldn’t want it to be any other way. She wouldn’t want a brand new set that looked different.
And when speaking to Paula Lane (who plays Kylie) she described moving to the new set “…almost like a new job, or a promotion. But without having to change jobs.”
She also spoke of the possibility of more stunts now that the street is that little bit wider, and the set that little bit bigger. She said “I thought they could do more stunts! I’d love to get involved in some more action scenes. I’m very sporty so I’ll be straight in there!”.
Now for some facts, figures and all round Coronation Street trivia. The move to Media City UK marks the 5th interpretation of the nation’s favourite street. It has taken over 60 organisations and over 3,000 people to create and build the new home. As I mentioned earlier, the set is that little bit bigger, it has been upscaled to assist future production and the famous cobbled street itself is 2.5 feet wider, allowing cars to pass with ease.
Now, it’s been the source of speculation for months, and now I can set the record straight about Audrey’s tree. It was reported that perhaps there wouldn’t even be a tree on the new set as the old one cause so many problems for lighting and filming that they thought it would be easier to get rid. This could not be further from the truth.
No, the old tree is not being brought over to the new site, but not because it’s not wanted. The current tree is over 30 years old so it was impossible to bring it over and replant it. However, the new tree has come all the way from Holland, weighing in at six tonnes and stands 40 feet high. It’s around 25 years old, took an entire day to plant, and is one of the largest trees ever to be planted in the UK.
Whats’s that? You want MORE numbers? Oh go on then…. there are over 400,000 facing bricks on the lot, of which 144,000 were reclaimed from a derelict Salford street. And 54,000 cobbles have been laid on the new street, reclaimed from Salford and the canal side in Eccles. WOW.
And finally, when asked, what on the last day of filming she’d like to take away from the old set, Sue Nicholls said “Do you know what? I’m going to be really kind of cheesy and say, just my memories.” Which pretty much sums up how the cast are feeling about the move. Sad to leave the old set? Of course! Excited for the future of the soap and what the new set can bring? Of course!
Coronation Street will finish filming at its current location at Christmas and then after Christmas all filming will move to Media City UK. I can’t wait to see how it’ll look on our screens, it was great to witness a piece of television history, and I wish the cast and crew the best of luck on the new set. Here’s to the new year and a new chapter for Corrie!
Coronation Street continues Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights on ITV.