A special edition of The Weathefield Gazette – Coronation Street’s very own newspaper – was published yesterday.

The 32-page tram crash issue was printed in the Manchester Evening News, with the full support of ITV, to mark Corrie’s 50th anniversary today – Thursday Dec 9 2010.

And I was lucky enough to land a staff job…for one week only.

I wrote three features for the Gazette, including interviews with producer Phil Collinson, executive producer Kieran Roberts and cast members Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre), Craig Gazey (Graeme Proctor) and Antony Cotton (Sean Tully).

Tony Warren, the man who started it all in 1960, also gave up his time to speak to me.

Rita Sullivan lies unconscious in The Kabin

“THERE’S been an explosion. It’s Coronation Street…Weatherfield, yes. There’s flames everywhere. I think there’s people still in there.”

Deirdre Barlow dials 999 next week…

A tram carriage dusted with snow was still hanging from the viaduct when I visited the Corrie cobbles yesterday.

Ready and waiting for the hour-long live ITV1 episode next Thursday.

I was among a small group of journalists invited to Manchester to be the first “outsiders” to see the two episodes which will be screened on Monday.

Plus a teaser trail of events later in the week leading up to that live episode on the night of Corrie’s 50th anniversary.

L-R: Kieran, Kym, Mark, Tony, David and Phil

THERE was a lot of love in the room for Coronation Street last night.

A special event at the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank, hosted by both the BFI and BAFTA, to salute the longest running drama serial in the world.

It began with a big screen outing for the first three episodes, originally broadcast half a century ago.

Followed by an hour-long panel discussion featuring Tony Warren – “the father of Coronation Street” – plus current producer Phil Collinson, executive producer Kieran Roberts and cast members Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor) and David Neilson (Roy Cropper).

Which threw up several interesting stories, including an explantion by Phil of how the axeman does not cometh when a new producer arrives.

With some “terrified” cast members hiding from him when he began the job earlier this year.

A historic day on the Coronation Street cobbles.

The press launch yesterday marking the countdown to the 50th anniversary on December 9, complete with a very special Street Party.

I was among 235 guests who gathered in Studio 12 at ITV Granada in Manchester for the event.

Hosted in some style by Boyzone star Keith Duffy, who plays Rovers barman Ciaran McCarthy.

(Lots of audio / video further down this blog)

Before a party out on the cobbles and tours of the studio sets.

The Corrie siege

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:

Making Waves: David Neilson as Roy Cropper

ROY Cropper made a big splash in Weatherfield last night.

Left to drown in a canal by killer Tony Gordon.

And summed up in two clear and simple lines:

Roy: “I can’t swim.”

Tony: “Good.”

David Neilson (Roy) and Gray O’Brien (Tony) filmed the canal scenes near Corrie’s Manchester HQ.

“I was out for every night of the canal shoot,” Corrie producer Kim Crowther told me when we met up recently.

CORONATION Street beer – it’s official.
From next month fans will be able to sup a Corrie pint, a nice chap at ITV told me today.
But there’s a catch.
The “quality draught ale” will only be available in the chain of pubs run by Manchester brewer JW Lees.
ITV has signed a new license which allows the brewer to create and distribute the 4.2 per cent cask ale.
You’d have thought Newton & Ridley might be quite bitter about this development.
But it seems not.
Back in the glory days of the now long gone Granada Studios Tour, you used to be able to buy all manner of Corrie merchandise.