Unreality TV

DSCN4792 On first glance this may look like an ordinary street stretching out before you but is actually a large photograph of an ordinary street stretching out before you. I was visiting the set of legendary UK TV soap Coronation Street which is why nothing seems real. The thing is, I don’t even think it looks real on TV. Even in the show it looks exactly what it is; fake. And, these days the whole programme is pretty fake.

DSCN4808Coronation Street has been on TV since 1960 and, in its day, was brilliant, ground-breaking drama but has, in recent years, followed the rest of the soaps into the realm of increasingly ridiculous storylines, melodramatic plotting and sensationalism in the desperate effort to stop its dwindling ratings disappearing completely. And the exterior set symbolises the whole sad process.

The sign in the window of The Kabin newsagents

It is obviously a set when you visit it and obviously a set on screen. For a start… cobbles. No real streets have cobbles any more apart the Shambles. Also, there is never a single car parked on this street in spite of the fact that there are no double yellow lines. Every real street in Britain is crammed with cars parked bumper to bumper. Furthermore, there’s a pub, a cafe, a shop, a medical centre, a butchers shop, a cash converter shop thing, a chip shop, a hairdressers, a kebab shop, a garage, a Bistro (I mean I ask you! Seriously! A Bistro!!) and (get this!) a knicker factory… all crammed into one tiny street. This is so that every inhabitant of the street can work in the street and thereby have no use for a car (this is the only street in Britain where no-one owns a car). All of these places have been introduced in desperation in order to try to breathe fresh life into the long dead format. It was a long time ago that the lives of these characters last had any resemblance to the lives of real people.

The sign in the bus stop at the end of the street


They’ve got it so badly wrong. Viewers are turning, more and more, to so-called reality TV because the dramas have all turned into laughable pantomimes that bear no relation to reality. Some of the most popular programmes on British TV recently have been shows which are far more rooted in reality. The Royle Family is a show where nothing ever happens except a family sits around watching TV; hugely popular with viewers because it is honest and real. Gogglebox has been a hit for Channel Four; again no murders, no jilting at the alter, no affairs, no punch-ups, just honest conversations between recognisable archetypes. That is what soap operas used to do; hold a mirror up to the audience. They used to reflect real life. Now they are just pathetic melodramas.


Adverts in the window of The Kabin. This is what I call attention to detail.


Anyway, it was still interesting to take a look at the set as it’s pretty iconic after all these years. Production moved to a new Salford Quays site in December so the whole place is deserted in terms of cast and crew. Of course it’s far from deserted in terms of tourists in fact it’s crawling with them… but only until October this year when the tours end. After that, the future of the site is uncertain.

This is taken through the keyhold of the back door of the Rovers Return pub showing the horrible state of the interior (which we weren’t allowed to see).
Trolley from Battabuys?




Leaving Home

DSCN4684Twenty-eight years ago I chiselled ‘1986‘ into my bedroom door just next to the light switch. You can see it on the photo above. I’d moved into that house the year before with my family. I moved out a few years later but my parents have lived there for nearly 30 years. The house itself is almost 150 years old. A few weeks ago, it was sold and now someone else lives there. A few days before this happened, I took these photographs.

DSCN4646Before I lived here, the longest I’d lived anywhere was four years. This place was the most important place in my life for a long time. When I heard that my mum and dad were going to downsize and move to a smaller place I had very mixed feelings. I knew that it was just a house, just bricks and mortar. I knew that the house had belonged to lots of people before it belonged to us; the deeds show the names of many different owners over the decades. I knew that lots of people would own the house after us and that we couldn’t own it forever. At the same time, I didn’t want to let this chunk of my past go.

DSCN4648We try to hang on to the past. Ridiculous because we know that everything must change. Even if we could hang on to the past, we will only live for so many years and then we have to let go, finally. I don’t know why we feel the need to do this. Maybe it’s to comfort ourselves in the face of an unpredictable future. I was dreading the day when my family moved out and someone else moved in. I took these pictures to try to take a piece of the place with me I suppose.




DSCN4653It was weird taking pictures when the place was half-empty and everything was packed up ready to leave. You try and imprint things on your mind so that you won’t forget them. Photographs help but they’re one-dimensional. You know that you’ll never actually walk into the place again. You see a lot of things, flashes of events that have happened in various rooms over the years. It all seems a bit sad.

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Once it was all done, though, I was surprised how little I actually missed the place. I had thought that it would hurt to see other people living in ‘my‘ house. It did hurt a bit. Nowhere near as much as I thought it would, though. In my entire life, I’ve lived in a total of nine different houses. This was just one of them. Places don’t matter really. People matter.




Star Wars Episode VII Shock News

SPOILER ALERT!! Shock news about the new Star Wars movie currently being filmed in London. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo have all aged 30 years!!



It’s hardly surprising that the actor from the original trio of films don’t look exactly the same as they did in 1983 when the last of those was released. When you’re in regular contact with someone over time you hardly notice them changing but when you rarely see a person, it can be a shock how time has forced them to alter in appearance. It’s a chilling reminder of our own mortality, I suppose.

I’m looking forward to the new Star Wars episode as much as anyone else and I notice that the buzz over ‘spoilers’ has reached fever pitch. How do you feel about spoilers for your favourite films or TV programmes? I have mixed feelings. Half of me wants to search out the latest titbits leaked from film sets etc; the other half of me wants to save the surprise until the big release day. I suppose we’re all like kids at Christmas; we pester Mum and Dad for details but if they tell us too much we feel deflated and let down.

So what level of spoiler builds up suspense and heightens the experience and what level spoils the whole thing? Well, below I’m posting a few titbits which I think will heighten the pleasure of waiting for Christmas day rather than ruin it. If you don’t want any hint at all of what presents you will be receiving then leave this post now!



EXCLUSIVE Production work is underway on the set of the most eagerly anticipated Hollywood blockbuster for years; Star Wars Episode VII.


The above pics are leaked from the set.  Star Wars Episode 7 will be released to theaters on Dec. 18, 2015. There will be a villain and it is likely she, yes she, will be a Sith. John Boyega has a major role in the upcoming film but isn’t a Jedi or a Padawan at the beginning of the movie at least, but he’s the one that has the story arc that brings him into Star Wars’ greater universe with echoes of Luke’s arc in A New Hope. There, that’s not spoiled it too much I hope. Roll on Christmas.

London. Part 1.


I know it’s the capital city of my country but, until now, I’d only ever been there once (on a school trip). On Saturday I went back. And this time I had a camera. I took 13 million photos and I will force you to look at every one. I’m not a sadist, though, so I’ll space them out a bit. To start with, here’s a few shots of Tower Bridge.


I had the usual problem that I have when faced with photographing attractive things; how do you take a picture which doesn’t beg to be put on a jigsaw puzzle or a box of chocolates? I tried to get some unusual angles but Tower Bridge is one of the most photographed buildings in the world so every inch of it has been photographed from every conceivable angle. I’m learning that the only way to do anything original is to bring in aspects of your own life. That’s why I’m most pleased with the first photo shown here. Tower Bridge is relegated to the background unlike on the rest of the shots, but it’s still the best picture of the bunch, I reckon.





In my photos I’m not trying to document Tower Bridge for people who haven’t seen it. What would be the point? A million guide books and history books can tell you that. I’m trying to show how the bridge looked to me on that particular day, when I was in that particular mood, and was with those particular people. If you want to know the facts about Tower Bridge, you can look it up on the web.



Anyway, it’s a beautiful building, of course. Like so many other buildings in London, it feels like you’re crawling across a film set because it’s featured in so many movies and TV programmes, most recently the Sherlock Holmes one with Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law where the climax was located on a half-built Tower Bridge.




There will be more of my photos of London featuring here. Many, many more…. In London… no-one can hear you scream!!!!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha……………