Shropshire Star

Days out: The Coronation Street Experience, Manchester

I wasn't lucky enough to sample any of Betty's Hotpot in the Rovers Return or grab a bacon buttie from Roy's Rolls.

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The Rovers Return

I didn't even get a trim from Audrey Roberts of the little that is left of my rapidly diminishing hair.

But my visit to the Coronation Street Experience at Media City, Manchester still left me reflecting on a good day out.

I loved Coronation Street as a child, back in the days when we only had a handful of channels to watch.

Speed Daal

The drama of Deidre Barlow's affair with Mike Baldwin and the London businessman's subsequent long-running feud with Ken Barlow, Rita Fairclough's terrifying ordeal at the hands of Alan Bradley and Bet Lynch's leopard skin outfits are etched in the memory.

And, of course, there was the humour of characters such as Jack and Vera Duckworth, Hilda Ogden, Alec Gilroy and later Reg Holdsworth and Fred Elliott.

A busier work and family life means I don't tune in much nowadays, or miss chunks but, while more far fetched nowadays, Coronation Street can still deliver top quality episodes at times, whether it be Aidan Connor's suicide or Paul Foreman's current MND storyline, as well as humour from the likes of the brilliant Maureen Lipman and Patti Sue Clare.

A trip to the Coronation Street Experience shows just how popular the soap or serial drama as it is now considered remains.

Our tour was full, with people of all ages in attendance, as they set foot on the famous cobbled streets.

Eleanor Panter outside the Kabin

Lasting about 90 minutes, we were shown around the famous external sets by guide Niamh who clearly loved her job, providing little snippets about each location.

Of course, everyone wants to see the key locations – the Rovers, Street Cars, Underworld, The Kabin, plus the homes of the Barlows, Platts, Websters and all.

Roy's Rolls

What the external tour does is show how much the set and the show has grown over the years, with new sets seemingly added all the time, including a new precinct, plus the many new shops in recent years, from Preston's Petals, Speed Daal and the kebab shop – Prima Doner.

On tour, you are given a few facts about how filming is done and that adds to the whole experience while, at the end, you are given a chance to go around at your leisure and get pictures.

At the end of the outside tour, visitors can enter the exhibition which is full of props, costumes and internal sets. This was a particularly interesting part of the tour as it gave even more depth to the history of the show, now an incredible 63 years old.

A celebration of Kevin Webster in the museum

There is a full timeline, bring back memories of all of the great characters over the years, and reflecting on the shows memorable storylines.

And visitors also get a chance to stand behind the bar at the Rovers and grab a picture before the natural trip to the gift shop.

The Rovers Return

One word of warning – security is tight (which isn't a bad thing) but some people were told to leave perfumes etc outside.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day out (you can also visit the neighbouring Imperial War Museum after for a donation) and the nation's most famous street shows no signs of losing its popularity or charm.

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