On a slightly damp afternoon in Manchester, standing outside probably the most famous pub in the world, I officially reached the halfway point in my 40Fifty charity challenge.
Elaine and I had just been on a tour round the old Granada studios, we'd sat in the Green Room, peered into various dressing rooms, seen some of the internal sets, sat in the Rovers Return (complete with absolutely brand new dartboard) and listened to the guide talk to us as if we were seven!
We even got to stand behind the bar, home to so many iconic figures from Annie and Jack Walker right through to Steve McDonald and Michelle Connor - including my friend Michelle Holmes, who played Tina Fowler back in the late eighties. I'll be honest I could have sat and reminisced for hours, but studio tours wait for no man!
I've watched Coronation Street for as long as I can remember. It's no longer the gritty tale of northern folk, more a main competitor in a ratings war that demands storylines that can sometimes captivate a nation, but can also stretch even the most vivid imagination. As we strolled down the Weatherfield cobbles, practically every house we passed will - at some point or another during the past fifty-three years - have witnessed deaths, disasters, serious crimes (the number of which will be way above the statistical average for one street - and I'm including Deirdre's glasses in that), tears of joy and sadness, champagne comedy moments, and a million other memories.
The set had undergone many changes during the previous five-and-a-bit decades, and much as it was hard to believe that we were walking the same path as Elsie Tanner, Stan and Hilda, Jack and Vera et al, and sitting in the same pub as the likes of Ena, Minnie and Martha, the inescapable truth is that the studio and sets are pieces of pure television history - pieces that will soon disappear forever.
The fact that being pictured outside the Rovers Return was one of my challenges is arguably incidental - this was an hour or so of self-indulgent soap magic. I would urge anyone who loves the show to try and go on the tour before it's too late.
"By the way Elaine, you smell nice... what is it?"
"Woman, Richard... Woman!"
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