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Category Archives: Salford
ITV soap undergoes ‘most dramatic change in its history’ with move to Salford Quays following £26.5m sale of Granada site
Sue Nicholls was relieved as she stepped out under an umbrella on to the wet cobbles of a new Coronation Street for the first time on Friday. “As long as they’ve got Audrey’s up I know I’m safe for a bit,” she said, gesturing across the road from the Rovers Return to the eponymous hair and beauty salon where Audrey Roberts, the character she has played since 1979, has been dyeing and debating for years.
Friday marked the grand unveiling of Weatherfield in its new home on the windswept Salford Quays, across the water from the BBC. In January the soap will leave its long established Quay Street site in Manchester city centre, sold for £26.5m earlier this year).
To the casual observer, the Street looks just the same – Vera Duckworth’s old house at No 9 is still adorned with garish blue and yellow cladding (a violation the Guardian’s Nancy Banks-Smith once said had dealt the cladding industry a “mortal blow” . The corner shop, the Kabin, is still advertising the Weatherfield Gazette on a neon sign in the window, alongside fiendishly difficult jigsaws and jars of sweets sold by the quarter.
Kevin Webster’s garage, rather quiet of late after Michael Le Vell took an enforced break to defend himself in a rape trial, is around the corner. There’s a phone box that now demands a minimum of 60p to make a local call, and a bus stop with a timetable showing the service from Coronation Street to Ordsall and beyond. All in all, 400,000 bricks were used to recreate the famous neighbourhood, 144,000 of them reclaimed from a derelict row of properties in Salford.
But look closer and it is clear some things have changed. The houses are more realistically proportioned than those at Quay Street – the current set is built at perhaps 80% of real life size, compared with 60% at the old joint. The streets are nearly a metre wider to allow cars to pass more easily. A fire engine can now squeeze down, which is useful in a neighbourhood more disaster prone than most.
The Rovers Return has got a new window upstairs to indicate the right number of bedrooms “so that Steve and Liz McDonald don’t have to share with Michelle any more”, said the executive producer, Kieran Roberts. He described the move, which has been two years in the planning, as “the biggest, most dramatic change in the show’s history”.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” said Nicholls, 70, who has notched up 34 years in Weatherfield. “I shall miss the old place because it’s part of my life, probably more than real life really. But cobbles are the star. We all come and go year after year but the cobbles stay here. They are still absolutely dreadful to walk across, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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