PREPARE yourself, Coronation Street fans.
Weatherfield has something rather special for us next week.
Including new titles and a fresh version of the theme music.
I was among journalists invited to a London preview yesterday of the Corrie Siege episodes.
Also involving the closing days of Gail Platt’s murder trial.
And found myself sat directly behind three Street stars whose characters are caught up in crazed escaped killer Tony Gordon’s (Gray O’Brien) plan to exact deadly revenge:
Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley Cropper, Samia Smith (Maria Connor) and Alison King (Carla Connor).
You can read my news story in today’s MEN here.
We saw extracts from the first four of six episodes to be screened next week.
Then next Thursday and Friday’s dramatic conclusion in full – with Corrie’s press office (one of the best in the business) trusting us not to reveal all.
I told Julie afterwards that I’d been watching Corrie since 1964 (with hazy memories of the cobbles before that) and they were some of the best episodes I’d ever seen.
Julie, Samia and Alison were then joined by Vicar of Dibley star James Fleet for a Q&A.
He plays deliciously against type as Tony’s accomplice Robbie.
Telling us: “It’s quite easy to tap into my inner criminal.”
Hayley is one of my all-time favourite Weatherfield characters and Julie is always a delight to talk to off screen.
As you can see from the main top photo, Hayley and Carla spend long periods tied to factory chairs, sometimes with their mouths gagged by tape.
Hayley was asked about having to act lots of crying. Click on the arrow below to hear her reply:
Julie added: “We got a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. By the end we were like, ‘No, leave us here. We don’t need a tea break, it’s fine.'”
With most of the rest of the cast away filming Gail’s trial scenes on location in Bradford, the siege episodes feel very special.
Yet totally recognisable as the Corrie we know and love, including the usual light and shade.
They were shot on a specially built fireproof Underworld set, identical to the one viewers have previously seen.
Rigged with explosives and detonators plus hidden gas pipes for flame effects.
The first episode of Corrie next week is screened at 7pm on Monday, with the second at 9pm that night and the next four all broadcast at 9pm from Tuesday to Friday.
Part of an important week for ITV1 as the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent are scheduled from 7:30pm to 9pm each night, followed by a results show at 9:30pm – after Corrie.
From Monday, Coronation Street will be broadcast in high definition with those brand new titles and re-arranged theme music.
You can see them for yourself here:
With yet more variations for ad breaks etc – some at night, some depicting different weather and seasons – also being filmed.
I immediately warmed to the new titles and music. They herald a modern yet still nostalgic Corrie, ready for its second 50 years.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.
I also spoke, among others, to director David Kester, who has done a superb job on these episodes.
And outgoing producer Kim Crowther – yesterday was her last official day in the job.
“We’re very proud of this week of episodes,” said Kim.
She has certainly left us with a fitting finale.