As a Salfordian, working on Coronation Street, shooting the film inserts, either on the street itself, on the lot, or round and about in Manchester as location work, was great for me. It was like the fulfilment of a boyhood dream. A programme pretty much based in my home town, and being a Salfordian myself, it was a lovely thing to work on. I never, ever thought I would get round to directing it, so I was very happy to have shot lots and lots of inserts, lots and lots of location inserts for it, weddings and on the lot, so that was really pleasant. Nice, great… Coronation Street is a drama about strong women, and the women on it, all the leading actors, were just fantastically strong women. But genuinely they were kind people as well, and I just think it’s something I will always be pleased to have done and always proud to have done, to have worked on what is a global brand. …
I did probably about a year and a half on Coronation Street… we had moved away to electronics by then, so I was directing in the studio. I asked if I could have a go at Coronation Street as a director.
It’s like a dream come true, isn’t it?
It was absolutely a dream come true. I’d done a lot of drama, I mean, I had shot Jewel in the Crown with Christopher Monahan and Jim O’Brien, the two Jewel in the Crown directors. As a camera operator you have a lot to do with the actors –how you stage it, the blocking of it, ideas of why… as a camera operator you have a very close relationship with the director and the cast in terms of a working relationship, how you’re going to work, and what the director wants and the blocking of it. So I was very used to talking to actors, asking them to do things slightly differently, to turn this way, that way a little bit, hitting this point, you know, trying to play it a little… because it’s a big close-up, don’t play it so big…
The external set of Coronation Street was a street in Salford.
Well, it wasn’t actually a street, it was a build… I think we used streets in Salford, around Chimney Pot Park, a lot, which is down the bottom of Langworthy Road in Salford, Chimney Pot Park, that elevated park in Salford, terraced streets abound, so we used that as a sort of bigger linking spaces, but the set, the lot itself had been built just off Water Street, so it’s where the gateway to the Granada Studio Tours was on Water Street, it was a built street running almost parallel to Water Street, and it was built on the cobbles. If you look at the very early episodes you can see that it’s wrong because the cobbles run at a slight angle to the way of the pavement as opposed to in all cobbled streets the cobbles run in parallel to the pavement, but on that street it crossed at a diagonal.
So was that there from the word go?
They rebuilt it pretty soon after it had been established, yes, they had built it.
And when did it shift to where it is now?
Well, it moved up to its new place, they built a slightly larger version with arches near the Rozel Square end of St John Street, that was the second street, and they put a big studio in there, Stage One, and built a second stage, or converted Stage Two, which was there to do Sherlock Holmes, when they had Baker Street there, so they had two studios. And only recently, within the last six months, they moved to Salford Quays, of course, they have a complete new set obviously Manchester’s closed, they’ve gone to Salford Quays.