Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Farewell Tony

Tony Warren 

I haven't blogged about Corrie since I stood down as tour guide and it's the very sad news of the death of the show's 'dad' Tony Warren that has caused me to put fingers to keyboard.

Although I knew that Tony was gravely ill it still came as a shock to hear that he had finally slipped away and gone to that famous snug in the sky.

He once told me that he didn't view Coronation Street  as a TV series, it was a street he knew and loved.  When he saw the houses he thought of all the fictional inhabitants - many created by him.  And that's the key of course, that's when the show really works, when it's about real people facing real life situations rather than fictional people being manipulated to fit fictional stories.

He was a lovely man - funny, ever full of tales, always creative.

So, I hope he's sat there now enjoying a tipple with Elsie, Annie, Martha, Minnie and Co.  His family.  His creations.

God Bless.

Picture: Copyright Mark Llewellin

Monday, 9 November 2015

Daisy Nook Christmas Displays

Thought I'd share with you all some images of daisy Nook's Christmas displays.

If you are in Manchester - come and visit us we're just 5 miles from the city centre.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Two passings

Sorry to report the death of Peter Baldwin, 82, who played Derek Wilton for many years on Corrie.  A really lovely man who never quite got over the character being killed off under Brian Park's reign as Producer.

Also, the death of Alma, wife of the late Bill Tarmey.  Ali, as she was known, passed away after a long illness.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Coronation Travel Tour - a review

Yesterday I led a one day tour of Corrie locations for Coronation Travel.  It was quite a momentous day - not only was it my last day tour but we also had to fit in a blessing!  These tours are normally booked a year or so in advance and then maybe six months ago I was contacted by the travel agent who runs the tour, Kim.  She'd been asked by a couple travelling on the tour whether it was possible to be married whilst over here - and if so whether they could have a Coronation St wedding.  Well, sadly, legally it wasn't possible - but we did manage to pull together the next best thing - a blessing ahead of their marriage in Canada.

Here's how the day went.  The group arrived at Daisy Nook Garden Centre to take  a tour of the Corrie exhibition.  As they did so we told them that our special couple were feeling unwell and so their escort Neville would have to take them to their hotel.  So Neville, Helene and Jack vanished.  In fact Neville MacKay (a fantastic florist) was in a back room making a stunning bouquet and buttonholes from red, white and blue flowers supplied by Daisy Nook.  When completed he and the happy couple were whisked off to the venue.

Half and hour or so later and I and the group boarded the coach and set off for our second stop - Ryecroft Hall.  This is where so many Corrie weddings have been filmed (including Rita and Dennis, Gail and Michael, Gail and Joe, David and Kylie, Steve and Becky - and many more).  The group took a seat and we sprang the surprise.  We'd managed to get Canon Sykes, Chaplain to HM The Queen to perform a ceremony, we had music, we had flowers and we had candles.  And off we went.  Half an hour later - having had readings from Neville and I - the happy couple were well and truly 'blessed' and they left the room to the strains of the Corrie theme tune (of course!).

From there we went to Salford Quays, travelled past the old Quays St studios and out to the Red Rec Park before making our way to their hotel.

A lovely group - a lovely day - and a great last tour for me after 20 years.

Neville creating magic on a previous visit to Daisy Nook

The old Granada Studios

Dennis marries Rita at Ryecroft Hall

Stella and Karl outside Ryecroft Hall

David and Kylie marrying in the room we used

Salford Quays
Pictures of Coronation St are copyright of ITV.

Monday, 21 September 2015

If I was Producer ...

At the weekend I was on a creative writing course and on the last day we took Coronation Street as our inspiration (simply because we all knew the show) for a series of workshops based on things like character usefulness, character demographics etc.  Basically you had to look at the current list of Corrie characters and decide who you would keep/lose if you were new producer, who should live in each house to give you a good spread of characters, and outline how you got there.  It was really fun.

Now, I should say that this was not organised by ITV Granada - and you had to lose at least 15 characters making sure that your motivation wasn't just to axe characters you disliked but that you should end up with a good cross-section of ages etc.  (I also wasn't allowed to keep characters just because I liked the actor!) So, for what it's worth, here's my attempt:


Gail makes a last bid to save her marriage to Michael but – after a false start – he returns to Eileen.  Eileen puts her house on the market and sells to Jason who moves Eva in with him.  Eileen and Michael move away to start afresh.  Gail agrees to a divorce.  She goes to stay with Stephen who offers her a better life in Italy.  As she boards the plane to come back to the UK she is seated next to Susie Birchall, her old mate, who it transpires lives in Italy with her wealthy husband.  Gail feels it’s a sign and makes up her mind to move out there subject to Audrey’s approval – which she gets.  Kylie and David remain in the house and David attempts to be a better person.  Sara and Bethany head back to Italy never to be seen again.


Sean applies for a job as the manager of the bingo hall and is successful so finishes at the Rovers.  With changes at the factory he packs that in too.  He loves his new job.  Billy is told that it’s time for him to move parish and that it’ll be in Dorset.  Sean is furious that having landed his dream job he will have to pack it in.  There is a huge row and Billy and Sean split up.  Ironically the Bishop then offers Billy the chance to stay in Weatherfield but by then Sean has burnt his bridges.  When Eileen sells her home to Jason he asks Sean to move out.  Sean bids farewell to the street whilst Billy stays as vicar.


Liz starts dating a new fella who tries it on with Michelle.  When Michelle tells Liz, she doesn’t believe her and suggests that she’s jealous of Liz.  Steve backs his mother.  Michelle tells him it’s over and packs her bags.  Eva continues as barmaid.  Liz is determined to keep Steve by her side – the only man she can truly trust.  Steve sells Streetcars (as below).


Sally and Tim marry but Sally tires of having Sophie at home so she issues her with an ultimatum – get a career or move on.  Sophie shocks Sally by telling her that she’ll move out.  Sophie moves in with Kevin.  When Kevin decides to move in with his new girlfriend (who lives in Leeds) Sophie thinks she’ll go along too but she has a shock when the girlfriend refuses.  Forced to stand on her own two feet Sophie gets a job in a hotel which has accommodation and she becomes an infrequent visitor to Weatherfield.  Tim does some work clearing out an old mill and manages to make some extra cash selling bits and bobs to Carla and Tyrone.  Sally thinks he’s quite the entrepreneur.  Then he comes home with news that there’s a locked safe and Sally goes with him at night to try and get into it but with no joy.  Unbeknown to her Tim takes Tyrone along and they get the door open and find a quantity of cash.  He returns to sally with half the money (he gave Tyrone half) - £20,000.  Sally spends a night worrying about the consequences whilst dreaming about what to spend it on.  Tim goes to the Rovers to celebrate and comes back having had a few.  The next day Steve comes to get the cash – he ‘bought’ the taxi business for £30,000.  It then turns out Tim kept £10,000 for himself.  Sally thinks it’s a great idea to buy Streetcars and the sale goes through.  Now she and Tim can be together all day long.


Robert and Tracy clash when Tracy hatches a plan to defraud Ken to finance a new start for the couple.  When Robert unmasks Tracy in front of Ken, she tells Ken that he’ll never see her or Amy again if he doesn’t help her.  Audrey provides Ken with a shoulder to cry on – and with Audrey’s help he sets up a trust fund for Amy and tells Tracy to sling her hook.  Robert, Tracy and Amy leave. Barlow’s Buys is put on the market.  Audrey and Ken enjoy a ‘friendship only’ relationship – nights at the theatre, meals out etc. 


Dev is finding business suffering as a new supermarket opens on the outskirts of town.  He is forced to let Mary go.  He begins to wonder whether he actually has a business worth saving.  Norris starts selling food lines in the Kabin – which Dev sees as the final blow.  When he bumps into an old school friend who has a successful chain of shops in Scotland he is intrigued to be offered a job.  On the anniversary of Sunita’s death he reflects on his life and that of his children and decides to take the opportunity and to leave Weatherfield for good.  The corner shop goes on the market and he leaves it up for sale as he departs.  A new owner will subsequently buy it and move into the flat.


Rita has a fall in the shop (accidentally caused by Norris) which leaves her in a wheelchair and unable to access her flat.  Norris offers to put her up in the front room of his house.  Rita has no option but to agree but she quickly tires of being cared for by him and he quickly tires of having her there all the time.  Meanwhile Mary is drafted in to assist in the Kabin.  Emily and Rita pass the time by bitching Norris.  As Rita starts to get on her feet she makes her way to the Kabin where she finds many changes.  There’s a huge row and Norris storms out of the Kabin.  He is knocked down and subsequently dies.  Todd is driving the car and is breathalysed and found to be over the limit.  He is sentenced to three years and so leaves the street.  Norris has left Emily the house in his will and Emily asks Mary to move in – it’s what, she thinks, Norris would have wanted.  Mary agrees – temporarily. Rita buys the Kabin back when it goes on the market and Mary works alongside her.


Nick decides to open a second bistro in town and offers David the chance to borrow money against the house and join him in the venture – so long as he buckles down and starts a night school course.  David sees the opportunity and agrees.  Audrey advises him not to extend his mortgage.  She offers to sell her home, move into the granny flat and to lend them the money to expand, which is what happens.  Audrey, takes to her role as matriarch of the Platts, and becomes rather waspish. 

David and Audrey continue with the salon but Maria asks for a rise when she’s offered a job elsewhere.  Audrey is considering giving her the pay increase but David, fresh from his new management evening class at the college, refuses and offers to pay her a bonus based on customer satisfaction and bookings only.  This is agreed to but Maria finds she is earning less than before.  In a huff she quits.  The next day she’s back at Audrey’s begging forgiveness.  David refuses to give her the job back so she is forced to take a job across town.  After a while she moves away with Liam jnr.

Roy and Cathy’s relationship continues.  Anna’s nose is put out of joint as Cathy picks up more hours in the cafĂ©.  It pushes Anna into reflecting on her options.  After a holiday in Wales she returns with ideas of moving there and starting her own business.  At first Roy isn’t pleased but he soon decides to share his experience with her and he takes her to Wales to look at suitable cafes and to act as her mentor.  Eventually Anna and Faye move away.  Roy talks of buying another flat and Cathy assumes he’s wanting to progress their relationship and have her move in or live closer by.  When he rents the flat over Audrey’s she’s quite excited but he explains that he’d never leave the flat he and Hayley shared – and he wants room to lay out his train set so that’s what he’ll do in the new flat.  He gets Alex interested in trains and the two share quality time up there in the evenings.


Zeedan is found to have been stealing money from the health club.  There is an altercation between him and Sharif.  Sharif suffers a fatal heart attack.  Yasmeen decides they should sell up and the health club is sold.  Ayla splits up from Gary after a short reconciliation and she leaves for pastures new.  Zeedan lands a job at the factory as a driver and eventually becomes Carla’s boyfriend.  Zeedan is doted on by his grandmother who brings his lunch to the factory each day to the hilarity of his co-workers.


When Kevin leaves he sells his shares to Tyrone – except that Ty can’t afford them all so Luke buys 10% and becomes junior partner.  Luke rents the flat above with his sister Steph.


After a stint in rehab Carla returns with a new fire in her belly and a contract to make curtains.  Meanwhile Aidan launches a branch of the business selling online and half the factory is converted to a call centre/web business.


When Dev leaves he keeps his share in the business and Chesney stays on as manager.  When he and Fiz start their dog grooming business he quits Doners and it closes.

Leanne Battersby takes Simon to visit Peter. They don’t return having decided to attempt a reconciliation.
Erica and Nick’s relationship struggles on and eventually she leaves seeing no future.
Izzy quits her job after a confrontation with Aidan and leaves to join her father. 
Kirk and Beth continue to live in the street with Craig. 
Tyrone and Fiz continue after the death of Hope.  Chesney lodges with them.  When Tyrone gets the cash via Tim he thinks they should use the windfall to start a little business for Fiz to run.  She and Chesney set up a mobile dog groomers/walkers business.
Andy buys Dev’s house and takes Gary in as a lodger to make ends meet.  Andy continues to work in the bistro.  Gary works part time in Roys Rolls and also at the bistro.


Rovers – Liz and Steve with Eva working there
1 – Ken
3 – Emily and Mary
5 – Kirk, Beth, Sinead and Craig
7 – Andy and Gary
9 – Tyrone, Fiz and Ruby
11 – Jason and Eva
13 – For sale (will eventually be let to allow the 'trying out' of new characters)
Corner Shop and flat – new residents
Barlows Buys and flat above – For Sale
Street cars – Owners:  Sally and Tim
Audrey’s – Owners/workers: Audrey, David and Kylie
Above Audrey’s – Roy's train set
4 – Sally and Tim
6 – Zeedan and Yasmeen
8 – David, Kylie, Max and Audrey
Above Kabin – Rita
Kabin: Owner: Rita with Mary working
2nd Flat over Kabin – Luke and Steph
Roys Rolls – Owner/workers: Roy and Cathy, Gary and Alex
Bistro – Owner/workers: Nick, David, Gary, Andy, Steph
Factory: Carla and Aidan
Flats – Carla, Aidan, Nick


Gail, Michael, Eileen, Sophie, Kevin, Sara, Bethany, Sean, Dev, Norris, Leanne, Simon, Izzy, Erica, Ayla, Sharif, Maria, Anna, Faye and Tracy.


Sunday, 13 September 2015

A look back ....

One more Coronation Street tour to do in October and then I'm hanging up the guide's microphone for the last time.  Over the past 18 years I've had the great pleasure to meet Corrie fans from around the world and to share with them visits to so many filming locations and of course, to the studios themselves.
I thought I would share some of the pictures from those tours with you.
David posing with his portrait in Manchester

The artist herself - Jayne Tunnicliffe (Yana) and Wendi Peters (Cilla)

At the British Isles Show in Toronto with Donna and Peter

With a group from Kemptville Travel at Portland Basin

Outside the 'Weatherfield Community Centre' being filmed with a group for CBC's Corrie Crazy show.

Where it started - this 1979 episode is the first one I can recall watching with my grannie. Tracy Barlow was feared dead - too bad she survived!

Interviewing Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin)

With Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley) and Bill Roache (Ken)

With the lovely Jennie MacAlpine (Fiz)
Filming a documentary about Coronation Street

With one of the loveliest cast members, Graeme Hawley, (John Stape)
With Kevin Kennedy (Curly) launching his autobiography

With Craig Gazey (Graeme)
The man responsible for it all - Tony Warren
With Graeme and Jennie at Daisy Nook's exhibition

Introducing a very young Chesney (Sam Aston) in Oldham


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Kemptville Travel 2015

As ever, I wanted to share a report of the visit to Manchester by Kemptville Travel's annual World of Coronation Street tour.

The group arrived on Sunday and were treated to a city tour by guide Sue who included a stop at the church in South Manchester which has been used for a number of Corrie episodes including being the location for Betty's wedding to Billy, Joe's funeral and it's also where Peter married Shelley.

On Monday Sue further introduced the group to the sights of Manchester including the Town Hall, Royal Exchange and Castlefield.  There was also a trip on a canal boat!  In the evening a special guest came to dinner - Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster).

The surprise guest on Monday evening

On Tuesday guide John  took the group around the beautiful county of Cheshire.  There were stops in Chester and Knutsford - and they also got to visit the location of Rob and Tracy's wedding, Capesthorne Hall (below).
A stunning wedding location
On Wednesday I joined to lead a day of location visits.  We started with a stop at Heaton park to see where Roy and Hayley had enjoyed their first kiss - and where Roy finally scattered Hayley's ashes.  Then  it was on to Daisy Nook Garden Centre and their Coronation Street exhibition.  The group met actor Roy Barraclough MBE (Alec Gilroy) who posed for pictures before we made our way to Portland Basin, where both Richard Hillman and David Platt drove cars into the canal.  Then it was off to Salford Quays for some free time, a drive by the famous Red Rec Park and then to the Studio Tours to see the outdoor set used from 1982 until ITV moved to Salford Quays almost two years ago.  Dinner was at Annie's where co-owner Jennie MacAlpine (Fiz) came to say hello.
A scene shot at Heaton Park

Danger for Rita in the Red Rec

Roy Barraclough MBE

One of the exhibits at Daisy Nook

The Quay Street Studios
On Thursday guide John took the group to Blackpool where they visited the famous waxworks, the Tower and enjoyed the illuminations.

On Friday it was back to Corrie locations with me taking them to the church in Sale where both Blanche's, and Tina's, funerals were shot along with Joseph's christening and - for those with very detailed memories - the funeral of John Stape's granny.

Then it was off to the Trafford Centre shopping mall before a brief stop at Weatherfield Community Centre before we arrived at the new Salford Studios.   There was no filming taking place for Corrie - although the TV show Loose Women was broadcasting live.  We had a tour of inside and outside sets and met a number of cast members who were rehearsing for the forthcoming live episode.  We also met the writer of the live episode Debbie Oates and saw some of the sets which were ready for this special celebration of ITV's 60th birthday.  In fact, we were asked to keep details - and pictures - to ourselves until after the event as we saw a few secrets!

Here are some of the cast we met:

In the evening there was a Gala Dinner at the historic Midland Hotel where another cast member joined the group.

Eva was the gala guest


On Saturday the group left Manchester for a few days in the West and South West.  For me, it was my final tour for Kemptville Travel - my 18th year - and a very happy one to finish on.

Please note that these pictures are taken from the internet and are not my copyright.