SOAP fans could have been forgiven for thinking it was all part of ITV’s plans to cut costs.
Especially if they switched on their TV in the middle of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
For there was Ant McPartlin starring as a new cast member in Coronation Street.
With Declan Donnelly joining the Emmerdale regulars in The Woolpack.
But rest easy for the moment.
Despite their troubles, ITV has no plans – as far as I know – to get more value for their millions by parachuting Ant and Dec into their soaps.
If you saw Saturday’s show, you’ll know it was all part of the latest Ant v Dec challenge.

THE cobbles are staying.
I broke the news first and exclusively this morning that Coronation Street is staying in Manchester.
Talks about moving ITV Granada from the current site at Quay Street to Salford Quays dramatically broke down this week.
ITV were moving forward with plans to transfer to Trafford Wharfside.
But discussions have now been terminated by ITV and the move scrapped following a dramatic reduction in the financial commitment being offered by MediaCity developers Peel.

THE saga of Coronation Street’s possible move to Salford Quays is nearing a conclusion.
At 7am today ITV announced it intended to axe 600 jobs and cut programme budgets.
And at 7.30am I took part in a long conference call with executive chairman Michael Grade and other ITV bosses.
As luck would have it, I was the first in line called to ask a question.
So I asked for the current thinking on the possible move of ITV Granada – including Corrie – from Manchester and the latest timescale for a decision.
Michael handed the question over to ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell.
You can read the full details in today’s MEN coverage here.
In essence, it looks like – barring a change of heart or last minute hitch – Corrie will be moving.
Described in Mr Cresswell’s answer as “the most valuable programme on British television”.

IN her own words, she blogs about “this, that and Coronation Street”.
If you’re a fan of all things Weatherfield, then Flaming Nora is an essential destination on the world wide interweb.
Want to know what Norris Cole is actually looking at on The Kabin’s storeroom computer?
That’ll be Nora’s Coronation Street Blog.
And the laptop which mysteriously floats around the Platt household?
Bound to have her other fully Flaming Nora site bookmarked.
Which leaves us with the mystery that is Blanche’s bedroom.
Did we catch a glimpse of it the other day?

IT came out of absolutely nowhere.
And is already destined to be one of my favourite TV moments of 2009.
Last night’s episode of Coronation Street saw Chesney trying to set his sister Fiz up with “a hot date”.
His misguided and doomed attempt to cheer her up after the jailing of former love John Stape.
Cue a comic scene in Roy’s Rolls as butcher Graeme (Craig Gazey) began to read a poem to Fiz (Jennie McAlpine).
With writer David Bowker making good use of Oldham actor Craig’s previous experience with The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Graeme began:

THERE are times when being a Corrie fan can be, quite frankly, a bit of a chore.
Wading though episodes in a quiet period when the storyline is simply simmering along.
But then Britain’s best soap raises its game to boiling point – as with the two visits to the cobbles last night.
Both were written by Jonathan Harvey, who hit a purple patch when he sat down at his computer keyboard to write the scripts.
Packed with outstanding lines, wonderful two-handers involving a range of characters and – of course – Molly and Ty’s wedding day drama.
Jonathan is both a theatre playwright and the man behind other TV shows like Gimme Gimme Gimme and Murder Most Horrid.

SOME TV couples are just made for each other.
Like Coronation Street’s Molly Compton and Tyrone Dobbs.
You can just picture them growing old together.
I interviewed Bury actress Vicky Binns ahead of Molly’s screen wedding to Tyrone (Alan Halsall), which will be shown on Monday.
You can read today’s MEN TV feature – with wedding pic gallery – here.
And below are a few extras that missed the final cut:
I asked Vicky why Corrie didn’t bring back her screen dad Diggory (Eric Potts) for Molly’s big day.
The writers have put the former Weatherfield baker in hospital with a burst appendix – so he can’t make the wedding.

REPORTS about the casting of a new factory boss in Coronation Street have missed out a family link.
Craig Kelly arrives on screen in February as Luke Strong, who turns out to be the majority shareholder in Underworld.
And former Queer As Folk star Craig just happens to be the elder brother of ex-Shameless actor Dean Lennox Kelly.
Dean, 33, whose recent credits include The Invisibles, The Passion, Cranford, Sorted and Doctor Who, began life as plain Dean Kelly.
But as there was already an actor of that name, he added his mother’s maiden name – Lennox.
While Craig, 38, has played a string of roles since appearing as Vince Tyler (pictured) in Russell T Davies’ classic Manchester C4 drama.
Including Casualty, Waking The Dead and teacher Mr Treblecock in the third and final series of The Grimleys.

NEWS today that former Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs could be heading for Coronation Street in 2009.
Writers are aiming to create a role for him as the brother of Norris Cole, co-owner of The Kabin, played by Malcolm Hebden.
But I’m told the potential role is in no way a result of recent events involving a certain Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
Andrew, 78, was at the centre of the storm over prank phone calls made to his answerphone by the pair.
He actually began talks with Corrie several months before the BBC Radio Two controversy about remarks made in relation to his granddaughter Georgina Baillie.
A Coronation Street spokeswoman told me this morning: “It’s very early days.

ROY has the scented bubble bath ready for Hayley.
There being only showers in Mozambique.
Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley, is back in Coronation Street on Monday after a year off screen.
There’s a feature interview with Julie in today’s MEN.
You can read the online version here.
As usual, there was more material from the interview than I could use on the page.
So here are some extra quotes from Julie.
Starting with the important stuff.