The Coronation Street Tour

They are the most famous cobbles in the world, and I got a sneak peek at the new Coronation Street Tour that opened, for six months only, on April 5.

It is said that you should never meet your heroes.

I’m not quite sure how a street that has been on UK television for 53 years has become a hero of mine but it has. Perhaps it’s the spirit of its fictional inhabitants, perhaps it’s because I’d sit and watch Corrie with my Grandma when I was little or perhaps it’s because it is, quite simply, a British institution.

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Yes, that is serial killer Richard Hillman sneaking up on me in the Platt’s living room!

Filming at Granada Studios in Manchester ceased before Christmas when the cast and crew moved over to Salford’s Media City to a news, high-tech, high res set and most of the old sets moved or dismantled.

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Always knew I’d get behind this bar one day!

But the Street has remained in place, for now, as has the Rovers, the Platt’s, the Dobbs’ and Carla’s old flat and relics past such a Hilda Ogden’s hair net, Deirdre’s glasses, the ornament Tracy Barlow used to murder Charlie Stubbs and Becky McDonald’s wedding dress, have been rescued from storage to see the light of day once more.

And now 35 new cast members have taken centre stage.

What these tour guides, who have been recruited from in and around the Greater Manchester area, don’t know about good ‘ole Corrie, isn’t worth knowing.

Showing me around were Martin and Dora who explained that they had spent four weeks of intensive training.
Dora, said: “We have been learning a brilliant script written by Coronation Street scriptwriter, Tim Randall, and we spent time with acting teachers from Salford University to learn all about voice projection and storytelling – it’s been brilliant.

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Becky’s wedding shoes – River Island FYI

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Roy’s lovely beige uniform, Jack Duckworths outfit and the infamous Bett’s overcoat

“Now we’re armed with all kinds of facts and gossip to pass on to the visitors when they get here, I can’t wait.”

Walking into the iconic Stage One studio, having already visited the “Corridor of Stars” where long serving cast members had their dressing rooms and the wardrobe and make-up department, there is such a sense of history that it seems sad that in just six short months, most of it will no longer exist.  The short film beforehand reminding me of old friends and new favourites, storylines past, births, weddings, deaths and the oh so brilliant disasters, made it all the more poignant.

Admittedly, my professionalism may have slipped slightly as I took in the in sets of Carla’s former flat, the Platt’s home and the instantly recognisable Rovers Return. (Well, I couldn’t NOT have my picture taken behind the bar could I?!)

But the piece-de-resistance appears through the doors of Nick’s Bistro.IMAG0129

 

Behind those doors lied hallowed turf, well, cobbles, and once I was in I didn’t want to leave, in fact. I contemplated hiding down the infamous ginnel so that I didn’t have to!

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Too early for a G&T?

One of my favourite touches was the use of sensors down there that set off Vera and Jack Duckworth, Sally Webster and Hilda Ogden shouting down the backs as you walked by their houses, making you feel like you could bump into one of them at any given moment.

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Roy? You in there?

Tour guests spend 45 minutes taking in the exhibits on stage one but the real fun comes when they get onto the street itself because your time is your own to peek through windows, take a snap outside the Rovers or call on Roy for one of his rolls.

I did all three and then some!

 

Get your tickets here

 

 

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INTERVIEW: Tom Stade

INTERVIEW: Tom Stade

Touring, for Tom Stade, is a double edged sword.

The self-confessed “road warrior”admits being on the road gives him a sense of freedom, but that freedom comes at a cost.

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“When you’re driving around from town to town you actually feel that you’re doing something with your life,” says the Canadian comedian, “when I’m on big tours, I miss things like dance recitals or football games but I figure my kids will get old enough to come touring with me one day.

“They are 16 and 12 so not really children any more, they’re little people who find dad’s ideas ridiculous.”

Tom, who lives with his wife, Trudy and their children in Edinburgh, is all about family.

“I really love family, and I like people who like family, it’s the most important thing in anybody’s life,” he says.

“But it’s tough being a parent, nobody knows what they’re doing half of the time – I don’t know what I’m doing but we do the best we can.

“My dad always said, ‘If you’re gonna work hard, work hard at being lazy’, he always had to explain that to me.

“I would say, ‘you want me to be lazy?’ and he would reply, ‘no I want you to work hard at being lazy, you need to make a lot of money to be lazy’. He was a very fun dad.

“I’m waiting for my kids to be 18 so I can take the ‘dad’ mask off and say to them, ‘Hi I’m Tom Stade, I’ve been playing your dad for 18 years.”

Following his sell-out tour last year, Tom is back on the road with his brand new live show Tom Stade Totally Rocks tour for 40 dates up and down the UK, making a stop at Preston’s 53 Degrees on March 1.

And each show has the potential to be unique.

“I don’t like to think about what going to happen or what’s not going to happen,” says Tom.

“I read a lot of spiritual books and try and just stay in the here and now at all times.

“If I pre-plan it and something doesn’t go the way I planned it then I get annoyed with myself and I cause myself suffering and I don’t like to suffer so as long as I stay in the here and now there’s no suffering.

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Photo courtesy of Trudy Stade

He continues: “I write jokes and have things I want to say but I always like going off wherever the audience takes me because I talk to them a lot during the show.

“It’s the kind of comedy I’ve always liked, when I feel involved in it, most of the time one person will say something and it will spark off a bunch of ideas that makes up and original show that can never really be repeated.”

Despite his appearances on BBC 1’s Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and Lee Mack’s All Star Cast, Tom remains humble and seems genuinely honoured by the opportunities presented to him.

After honing his craft on the amateur circuit at 18 where “you’d be by a pay phone at noon with 30 other comics calling for the 12 spots that were available” he appears surprised that he should grace the same stage as past comedy greats.

“Those are the shows that change things,” he says. “If you do good on those shows all of a sudden things will change for you and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

“For all those producers to sit there and say ‘Tom we’d like you to do the Apollo’ is a real big honour, especially as I’m a guest in this country and you’re asked to do this big show, it’s overwhelming at times, but it’s much appreciated.”

When he isn’t touring, Tom spends his time in Edinburgh visiting his peers’ shows and catching up with his friends on the circuit.

“I like to see a couple of shows a day when I can,” he says, “I’ll pick a couple of guys who I haven’t seen before and then I’ll maybe go see a friend.

“You’ve got support your peers and it’s always good to know you have a friend in the audience.”

Though surrounded by some of the best in the business, Tom’s comedy hero is a little closer to home.

“My dad, for sure, is my biggest comedy hero, he was the funniest man I’ve ever known.

“He introduced me to a lot of the greats as he was such a big comedy fan. My dad was just fun!”

One day, let’s hope his own children think the same.

Tom will appear at 53 Degrees, Brook St, Preston on March 1.