In the week Coronation Street moves to hour long episodes and an 8pm time slot on ITV, the UK’s most watched soap has unveiled plans for an ambitious new exterior set build…..the Weatherfield Precinct.
The impressive two storey construction will feature maisonettes, a staircase and balcony leading to the properties, a piazza and an array of accessible local shops and units, which will enhance and extend the set based on the programme’s 7.7 acre site in Trafford.
The vision of production designer, Rosie Mullins-Hoyle, the development begins construction this week and will take six months to complete before the programme’s cast and crew can begin to film exciting new storylines.
“We are extremely excited to be starting to build Weatherfield Precinct this week after a year of technical drawings, model making, visualising and planning,” says Rosie.
“An incredible amount of research has been carried out focussing on 1960s local architecture and we are striving to create an authentic area of Weatherfield with a grittier vibe to the existing street that we know and love.
“The build is being led by myself and construction manager Keith Eccleston and is a fantastic opportunity to use some of the amazing behind the scene talents we have on the show with bespoke joinery, scenic art work, graphic design and set dressing skills all being involved.
“I cannot wait to meet the characters that may call it home and see the businesses that will be created and the storytelling potential of an old but new part of Weatherfield.”
As part of the wider Weatherfield community, the precinct has often cropped up in the soap’s dialogue with characters heading off to the parade of shops.
The new set will afford scriptwriters the chance to make the most of the show’s broadening horizons, creating opportunities to explore storylines beyond the cobbles of Coronation Street itself.
“The fabled Weatherfield Precinct has been much discussed, but little seen on the show in our 61 years, and I am really excited to be expanding the Coronation Street universe,” said the show’s series producer, Iain MacLeod.
“The plans for the shopping area are drawn directly from the real-world Salford environs that inspired the show’s creator Tony Warren and exemplify the authenticity and ambition we still prize as we move to hour-long episodes this week.”
Located on the Manchester Ship Canal and directly opposite MediaCityUK, the Coronation Street production facility became the programme’s new home in 2014, and ever since the soap has continued to expand and invest in the site.
The Victoria Street set, including Victoria Gardens, Speed Daal, the Weatherfield Tram stop, Trim Up North, George Shuttleworth’s funeral parlour and Edison Bailey’s builder’s yard, opened in 2018 with the soap’s legendary actress, Sue Nicholls cutting the ribbon at a specially convened ceremony.
Produced by ITV Studios, Coronation Street is the world’s longest running soap and holds the Guinness Book of World Records for this achievement, alongside longest serving cast member, William Roache OBE, who has starred in the drama serial since the first episode on 9th December 1960.
“As we (hopefully) come out of Covid and start to stretch our dramatic legs again, it will be great to be able to play exciting new stories against a brand new backdrop,” said John Whiston, Head of ITV in the North.
“And it’s a testament to the confidence ITV has in the show that it is investing so much in our future.
“Mind you, I guess it won’t be long before we blow it up, burn it down or crash a tram into it.”