Yes, I went on the Coronation Street tour, and just to clarify – I do not watch Coronation Street.
The last time I watched it I must have still been in secondary school – I have no interest in soap operas per se, so why on earth did I go on a Coronation Street tour?
The reason behind booking a Coronation Street tour!
My mum is a fully certified Corrie’ fan, and has been all her life. I thought it was high time she came face to face with the reality of this thing that receives so much of her precious time and attention, week after week, year after year. So I booked a surprise trip and and got her walking down that iconic cobbled street in Salford, taking in the entire outdoor set.
I wondered if she might feel any differently about watching Coronation Street after this visit – she doesn’t seem to think she will. If anything, it sounds like I may have added further fascination to her viewing experience because now she’ll feel even more connected with the street when watching it!! Probably not the best way to wean somebody off.
We were la la la – ing the theme tune of Coronation Street as we entered the outdoor set, its funny how we never forget theme tunes.
The lively guide shared lots of information, plenty of facts and history about the show.
Any surprises? Yes 10 actually!
- Some of the door bells actually work
- They’ve got Costa. (Apparently they’re allowed to use brands now – they’ve got a Co-Op supermarket too)
- It’s actually more than one street – not just Coronation Street
- The back of the houses has a very ‘back in time’ northern feel to it, but most of it is blocked so you can’t walk very far down the alley
- Looking through the letterboxes revealed grubby dirty carpets, cabels and filming equipment – not much else – this is because they do most of the indoor filming from another set, an indoor set that you don’t get to see on the tour, so unfortunately for the fans there’s no selfie at the bar of the Rovers, or getting comfy in the living room of your favourite character
- There were a couple internal sets on the street – the takeaway shop and the police station – you can actually walk into them and look around
- The set is seamless and very much as you’d expect it to appear in real life – the houses are build with bricks and motor – real to the rear as much as the front
- The street is very narrow – they usually get cast members to walk across the street diagonally to give the impression of a wider shot – look out for that next time you tune in!
- They double up some of their locations to film two separate places. E.g the exit we used, to leave the ITV main offices doubles up as the set for the front of ‘Weatherfield Hospital’
- The cobbles used to be painted onto the set, and the cast had to adjust their walk to try and make them look real. If you’re planning on doing the tour, leave your stilettos at home – today’s cobbles are very real
Through the letterbox
Lights Camera Action!
I asked one of the security staff if he ever gets to witness any live filming, he said no, because the tours only take place at the weekend (when he works) and filming happens during the week, ” but sometimes a cast member pops down and makes a surprise appearance” he added; we were not so lucky on our day!
We did see two cameramen come charging down the street with the biggest hand held cameras I’ve ever seen – the cameras looked like something out of a transformers movie, a piece of spacecraft, or huge space age machine gun looking things.
A non-viewer’s verdict
Surprisingly, I find myself rating the Coronation Street tour very highly – 7/8 out of 10 perhaps (though I have nothing else to measure it against so this might be a bit generous).
Even if you couldn’t give two hoots about Coronation Street, there is something very interesting about walking through a TV set, imagining the film crew dotted all around and hearing about some of the filming hacks they use behind the scenes.
I’d definitely recommend it, if you’re curious.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to see some of the indoor sets, but it was still a worthwhile experience – in fact it got me thinking that in some ways it’s actually a bit weird (psychologically) that we spend so much time and money creating fake reflections of real life to watch back for entertainment – across film and television…..why do we do it?
This might be a topic to explore in another blog!