Sunday, 30 August 2015

Waving goodbye to Weatherfield

Thanks to everyone who has emailed about my ending my stint as a tour guide to the various Corrie locations.  I was asked last week to do a radio interview on the subject and as the station sent me a transcript I thought I'd share.

JANE:
A regular guest on this show talking all things Corrie down the years has been Mark Llewellin. But, that's all coming to end.  Explain!

MARK:
For the past 15-20 years I've looked after various groups when they came to Manchester from places like Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia and have taken them round various Coronation Street filming locations - and sometimes into the studios themselves.

JANE:
Not the studios which are open right now for the tours - the actual ones.

MARK:
That's right.  Of course it used to be the ones on Quays Street - but yes, down to the Salford Quays ones to.  Not all the groups - but some.

JANE:
So, these locations - such as where?

MARK:
Corrie has been on air for 55 years this December and down the years they've always filmed on location.  So, you know, for weddings, court scenes, taxis going into canals ... many of the classic stuff has been shot around Manchester.  Then there's the famous Red Rec, the allotments, Audrey's house and so forth.  I've put together themed days for lots of groups and coach companies and shared with them stories of how the show is filmed and put together as we've visited many of these places.

JANE:
You've been to Canada too.

MARK:
Yes, I used to go to the British Isles Show in Toronto, which they have each year, to talk Corrie.  I've also been to Nova Scotia - and to New Zealand. 

JANE:
But this was in addition to lots of other jobs you've had.

MARK:
That's right.  I was Director of marketing at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre then  I had my own events business and now I am part owner of a garden centre here in Manchester.

JANE:
Which has a fab Corrie exhibition.

MARK:
Yes.  When I started doing the tours there were only so many places you could go to as a fan.  And of course everyone wanted to buy a Coronation Street souvenir to take home. There was nothing in those days.  I used to trawl Ebay and turn up with a suitcase of things -a sort of mobile shop.  Anyway, when I bought into the garden centre I cleared out my attic of Corrie props and costumes and we put together an unofficial exhibition and we started stocking the official Corrie merchandise so fans had somewhere to come.  The tours has a shop now but that's due to close in December.

JANE:
Now, how did all this start?

MARK:
I was working at the Coliseum where lots of Corrie actors began their careers and someone rang up and asked if they could bring a  group of Canadian Corrie fans along.  I offered to give them a tour and as it happened we had some of the cast rehearsing for a play so they agreed to say hello.  The following year I had a similar call but this time they said the guide looking after the group for the week was ill and would I be interested in taking over.  I agreed and the rest is history. 

JANE:
But you're giving it all up?

MARK:
I know.  It's been a tough decision really.  I started cutting back a bit - I also go to groups giving talks on Corrie - last year and then this year I thought the time had come to end the tours completely.  I have so many other things on the go and I cut back to doing a day or two only with each group so I find myself go round and round the same places.  I will miss it but -

JANE:
So are you going out with a bang?  Driving the coach into the canal maybe?

MARK:
I hope not.  I have a Canadian group for two days in September and another group  in October.  That's quite nice because a couple on it are getting married when they get home.  I've managed to arrange a quick blessing in the location where Corrie film all the registry office weddings.  Mind you, Rita and Dennis, Gail and Joe, Becky and Steve, and Karl and Stella all married there and it didn't work out too well!

JANE:
What will you miss most?

MARK:
You have a load of fans who've saved up to come and visit - sometimes on their first overseas trip - this mythical land of Weatherfield.  I've always tried to get it right and it's been important to me that we do the tour in the correct way.  I hope that continues.  I'll miss seeing their faces when they visit the locations and the studios.

JANE:
And will the exhibition at Daisy Nook Garden Centre continue?

MARK:
we're just debating that.  It's been open a couple of years now so it's probably time to consider whether it closes in the new year.  We'll have to see.  I'm still doing the odd talk on Corrie so I'll keep my hand in but - well, we'll see.

JANE:
Thanks.

Mark with John and Fiz Stape opening the exhibition at Daisy Nook.