Thursday, 20 July 2017

Interview: Two men and a little lady in Coronation Street


There's a good interview with Bruno Langley (Todd Grimshaw) and Daniel Brocklebank (Billy Mayhew) in What's on TV this week.

Bruno and Daniel talk about becoming the first same-sex couple in Coronation Street to raise a child together.

Billy and Todd are the first same sex couple in Corrie to raise a child together. How do you feel about that?
Daniel: “Corrie has always been a forerunner in terms of LGBT rights, and I’m thrilled! And I adore working with Bruno, so for us to have this extra layer brought into Billy and Todd’s relationship is great. I would’ve loved to have been a dad, so if this is the closest I ever get to it, then brilliant.”
Bruno: “It’s another bit of Corrie history. The show has been moving with the times since its creation, and it’s just reflecting what’s happening in real life.”

How do you think the other residents will react to Billy and Todd being parents? Will there be a few ruffled feathers?
Daniel: “Of course there will be – surely the point is to ruffle feathers, and I’m sure there’ll be many a whimsical quip coming out of Norris’s lips!”
Bruno: “Do you know what, I don’t think there are going to be any characters saying anything! I can’t imagine a scene where someone’s disgusted with the fact that they’re raising a kid together.”

Todd has a rather chequered past – Bruno, do you think that now he is a father, his dark days are behind him?
“The conundrum is that in order to adopt Summer, Todd has rented a flat with Billy. But if he doesn’t have a good job, he can’t pay for it, and so he’s gone into business with Adam Barlow. I’m not a scriptwriter, but I know there are going to be points where Todd’s morals will be put into question again.”

Now that Billy and Todd are parents, would you like them to seal the deal and get married?
Daniel: “I’d love them to get married, because I’m a hopeless romantic! I also think it would be an interesting thing to highlight with the Church of England, because at the moment, if a gay vicar got married, they’d get fired.”
Bruno: “That would be another bit of history for the show, so I assume that’s probably on the cards at some point. Getting married abroad would be a good idea. How about the south of France?”

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Confessions of a Coronation Street Tour Guide (1 of 5)


The old Coronation Street set and the tour for fans have now been demolished and are no more. But we can relive some of the glory moments of the Coronation Street tour with an ex-tour guide, Aussie Pete.

Peter has been kind enough to write down all of his best, favourite memories from his time spent working as a tour guide on the Coronation Street set.  And over the next few days we'll be bringing you his funny and touching memories.

Part 1 is today and I hope you really enjoy reading this.  It's over to Aussie Pete!

How did you get to become a Corrie tour guide?

I must start by saying that if it was not for this Blog, I would not have become a tour guide. I saw the post on Coronation Street Blog advertising the tour was looking for new tour guides for the closing months of the tour.

At this point I’d been in England for a single week and as an Aussie on a working holiday, expecting to do the usual bar work (and that would actually come much later…). Seeing the post, I thought ‘What’s the worst they could do? Say No?’ I hadn’t even looked for a job yet, just planning to have a holiday then get down to it. Just a few short days later I received an email asking me to come down to Manchester to apply! After a group interview, I went back to Edinburgh where I was staying with a friend, two days later the call came in for the phone interview which lasted about 3 minutes before telling me I had the job!

How long were you there and how often did you work - every day?

Most weeks I would work 5 days, though by the end of the tours it was much more than that. The longest stretch I did was 21 days in a row, and I worked 29 out of the last 31 days! The shortest shift was about 3 hours and the longest was 8.30am until 1am!

A day usually included a few different duties for the guides. There were the tours themselves. Which could be upto 6 a day, however it was usually no more than 4 or 5. We had dispatch duty, which was checking people’s tickets and getting the groups ready for their tour and giving them their backstage passes. The last job was street duty, which most of the time was taking photos for the guests, answering question, doing street tours and monitoring everyone was having fun and being safe.

Were you a Corrie fan before you took the job? 
I had been a fan of the show for about 10 years before joining the tour. When I like a show, sometimes I like to find out all I can about it. In Corrie’s case, that was about 40 years’ worth of history, so I jumped onto Corriepedia and read all I could. I knew so much by the time I arrived, I even got nicknamed the ‘Aussie Corricle’ or ‘Aussie Geek!’ There’s one guy we had at the tour, an Uber-fan who knows more about the show than anyone I know, we called him ‘The Corricle,’ though a few times I knew stuff he didn’t know!

What kind of training did you have to do before you got the job?
The main training I needed to do was learn the script. It was about 13 pages long. I did get the script memorised quite quickly. Once we had gotten into a comfortable routine with it, we could deviate from it a little here and there.  You could go a dozen times with a different guide each time and have a completely different experience. Sometimes it was necessary to make changes. An good example is a scripted joke in Wardrobe about getting Roy Cropper’s cardigan from the Northerners version of eBay, e-by-gum! Now if I had said that, I would’ve sounded a fool as I feel you need the accent for it and clearly, I didn’t have that!

Tune in tomorrow for Pete's blog post about some of the funniest things that happened while working as a Corrie tour guide!





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Ben Cartwright reveals why he almost turned down Coronation Street


Ahead of Friday night's Coronation Street double bill, which sees Bethany Platt’s grooming storyline come to an explosive conclusion, actor Ben Cartwright - who plays policeman Neil Clifton in the soap - joined Lorraine on the sofa.

Speaking to Lorraine this week, Ben said he praised the soap for tackling such an important issue.

He also spoke about the reservations he had taking the role and that he almost turned down the role of PC Neil Clifton.

He also talks about his real-life experience with fans of the show.

Watch the full interview here.

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Corrie's grooming story goes to trial


Digital Spy report that Coronation Street has officially confirmed that Bethany Platt's abusers will face a trial.

In the episodes airing on Friday night, we'll see Bethany finally report corrupt copper Neil Clifton for his role in what happened, which leads to a review of the entire investigation.

As this new evidence clearly puts the whole situation in a new light, the police decide there's a chance that Neil and Nathan Curtis can both be charged.

Christopher Harper, who plays Nathan, has already confirmed that his character will end up in prison as punishment for his crimes.

Corrie bosses had also always promised that the story would conclude with "Nathan and his gang exposed and forced to face the full consequences of their actions".

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Georgia Taylor interview on Toyah in the Rovers Return


Georgia Taylor, who plays Toyah Battersby in Coronation Street, is interviewed this week in Inside Soap magazine. She talks about her character's new job as landlady behind the bar at the Rovers Return - and her dream of having a baby.

Georgia says that Liz McDonald is her favourite Corrie landlady of the Rovers. But could Toyah ever hope to match up that matriach? Well, it remains to be seen.  I'm secretly hoping it won't be long before Liz is back behind the bar where she belongs.

Georgia says that Toyah is still desperate to have a baby and that she genuinely loves Peter. "She believes that they can be a proper family," she says. "I think they have a lot to offer a child."

But could it be Leanne who offers her step-sister a helping hand with the IVF treatment? When Leanne cashes in after receiving a cheque from Nick for her share of the sale of his flat, she offers the money to Toyah to help fund her baby dreams. Will it all come crashing down as a nightmare?

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Corrie's Kym Marsh discusses Michelle's future - and Steve


Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle in Coronation Street, is interviewed this week in Inside Soap magazine about the future of her soap character.

It's a good little read and the summary of it is as below. As always, with interviews in Inside Soap, it pays to buy the magazine as there's so much in it that I couldn't possibly blog all of it.  Definitely worth your pennies from your newsagent or online with their app at Inside Soap magazine.

Kym says Michelle has been "taken by surprise about Robert's confession about his past. But she has accepted it was his past and has nothing to do witht he man he is now.  She's really been through it with him! But it's great to play as an actress. She's a tough cookie though it would be nice to see her having a slightly easier time of it."

Kym says that she misses working with Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald).  "Well, I still get to see him most days and he still winds me up and we have a joke - but I think for Michelle that ship has sailed for the time being!  I've been very lucky with the men I've worked with over the years though and Tristan Gemmill (Robert Preston) is no exception."

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

From Ena to Phelan: Corrie fan's mental health challenge


Guest blog post from Richard Kirby 

Two photos with two things in common taken something like 46 years apart. Each features a member of my family (namely me and my Gran), as well as a member of the Coronation Street cast (Connor McIntyre and Violet Carson respectively).


But why upload the pictures to social media?

Well the reason will soon become clear, but first the photo from the early 1970s showing my Gran, Gertie, obtaining an autograph from Violet Carson (at least I presume it was that way round). Violet was the lady behind my all-time favourite Corrie character, Ena Sharples.

Ena remains one of the programme’s most dominant personalities; she was resolute, strong-willed and never shy of entering the argumentative fray. Physically, she was imposing too, and with her trademark double-breasted coat and hairnet, she cut a striking figure. 

One of the things that was particularly noticeable was the speed that actress Violet Carson delivered Ena’s lines (especially in the early 1960s); the character was brusque and direct (often to the point of being rude). Ena hid any feelings of affection behind quarrels and bouts of self-interest, poorly masked on occasions by the justification of religion. She did mellow (to an extent) and for me, Ena Sharples was the embodiment of life in a 1960s northern terraced street.

But Ena did have feelings, and the times when the mask slipped were all the more emotive because they were so infrequent. If you watch the episode from May 13, 1964, there is one fleeting moment that shows the “real” Ena Sharples.

With the Rovers in party mood to celebrate the departure of Frank Barlow to leafy Cheshire following a big Premium Bond win, Ena was playing “Moonlight Bay” and “I’ll Be Your Sweetheart” on the piano in the bar, as Martha passed away quietly in the snug. 

The mood changed as soon as Jack Walker discovered Martha’s lifeless body; Ena got up from the piano and went to join her friend for the last time… and in the split-second when Ena’s face was shown (before the snug door closed behind her), her expression betrayed totally believable shock—and grief. It was one of those “less is more” moments that told the viewer more about Mrs Sharples than my words ever could….

The photo of Gran and Violet was taken in Blackpool, where Violet lived with her sister, and Gran spent many a summer holiday, staying in a bed and breakfast, which overlooked the Odeon cinema (you can add the word “old” if the building no longer exists). 

I have many fond memories of our trips to Blackpool, although I was a poor traveller in my younger days. I wasn’t great at swallowing tablets either, and my Mum had to find more inventive ways to try and get me to take the pill that would stop me “decorating” the roadside (or worse still the inside of Grandad’s car) on the journey to or from the coast. 

One idea was to push the tablet inside a jelly sweet—quite a good plan, except the pill was black, the sweet was yellow, and even I wasn’t that stupid!

Back to July 2017, and my wife Elaine and I headed to Manchester (I’m a really good traveller now…) to visit the new Coronation Street studios and to complete one “challenge” from a list of one hundred that I’ve been undertaking for the past four years to try and raise awareness of mental health issues.

Challenge no.91 was “to meet an actor who has appeared in Coronation Street”; I would have liked to have given the identity of the actor in question a big dramatic build-up, but the photo pretty much gives it away.

It was great (albeit slightly surreal) to see the working sets and so many instantly recognisable faces going about their business; but being able not only to meet, but also to spend time in the company of Connor McIntyre was an absolute pleasure.

The visit was (and will remain) one of the undoubted highlights of the challenge project. Hopefully this blog will include a link to my website, which features details of the various tasks, and more importantly the reasons behind them—and you are more than welcome to have a quick look. 

I have to sign off now though... next on the list is to attempt a marathon on an indoor rowing machine; it’s time for the gym and another lengthy training session and, as Ena would probably say: “Them miles won’t row themselves….”.

Website: www.richardkirby.org

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