Coronation Street’s base for 53 years at Granada studios in Manchester is to close its doors on 31 December. So is it worth fans making the trip to see the iconic cobbles before they’re no more? Corrie may have moved to a new set at MediaCityUK, but it seems there’s plenty of history in the home they’ve left behind…
The tour kicks off in the green room, an area where crew members were not allowed to enter as it was exclusively set aside for show’s cast to relax in and socialise. Pay attention to the actors’ pigeon holes: there’s a script for Ryan Thomas (Jason) on display and an area marked for ‘Dame Antony Cotton’.
After this, it’s on to the ‘corridor of the stars’ – or the actors’ dressing rooms as they’re more commonly known. There are three floors of dressing rooms, although only the ground floor is available to view. It’s here that some of the longest-serving cast members had their sanctuaries. William Roache’s is very close to the entrance to Stage One, as is Beverley Callard’s (presumably for ease of access to the Rovers’ set). Also note: plenty of Radio Times framed covers are on display.
Then it’s on to costume and make-up where you’ll see just how limited Roy Cropper’s wardrobe is compared to the younger stars (his cardigan is from BHS, by the way). The male stars get 15 minutes in the make-up chair, the women 30 minutes.
Once through the doors into Stage One, you’ll watch a video montage of famous Street moments before seeing the interior to Carla’s former flat on Weatherfield Quays. Eagle-eyed fans will clock that the actual entrance to the Quay Street studios doubled as the entrance to Carla’s apartment block.
There’s also the Platt family’s front room and kitchen, which looks especially tiny (all sets are seven tenths real size). In fact, it’s hard to believe that Gail was actually sent toppling down those stairs. For a start, it’s such a small space. And there’s no landing…
Then it’s onto a real highlight: the inside of the Rovers Return, where 3.5 million pints have been pulled and 200,000 hot pots served since records began in 1961.
After exiting through the Rovers’ lavatory doors (and no, you don’t end up in the Barlows’ front room), you’ll stop off at the Underworld factory (sewing machine sound effects are added in post-production), see the barge interior where Stephanie Beacham’s Martha bedded the priapic Ken, and take in the Dobbs’/Duckworth front room.
Next, it’s a look at some truly iconic pieces of soap costume: namely, Roy’s beige anorak and Deirdre’s glasses. Yes, the ones that caught the eye of a certain Mike Baldwin during that 1983 love triangle. Among the hairnets and butcher hats, there’s also some tram-crash rubble from 2010, Hayley’s floral coffin and some of Roy’s model train collection.
Passing through the production suites, you’ll see a Christmas tree in the corner, something that’s been left to emphasise the fact that this was a working studio building a mere four months ago. There are also printed emails on the corridor walls from producer Stuart Blackburn wishing his cast a happy festive period.
The tour itself ends at the doors to Nick’s Bistro, which open up to reveal the cobbles themselves, the exterior set opened by the Queen in 1982. As a finale, it’s hard to beat, the power of the Street never failing to impress thanks to that pull of nostalgia and familiarity.
In March 2015, the tour introduced the interior of The Kabin, opened up Websters’ garage so that you can see inside while punters can also pay a visit to Prima Donor.
You can wander around for as long as you like on the street, however there’s now also an optional street tour for this part of your visit where you can discover how they went about filming on the cobbles. This is included in the original ticket price and they run every hour on the hour.
And it is worth taking the time also to discover some of the filming secrets: for instance, inside what appears to be the Medical Centre lie the wards of Weatherfield General. Behind Victoria Court is the entrance to the local prison. And the grass lawn in the Platts’ back garden looks suspiciously like astroturf. Most impressive of all is the trompe l’oeil backdrop that shows Rosamund Street going off into the distance.
But as you explore your environs, just beware falling trams…