T LEAST seven wedding gowns, a stunt coordination team, a stately home and two Hells Angels.
No, that isn’t a backstage checklist for the latest Hollywood thriller, but just a few of the resources pulled in to create Coronation Street’s hotly anticipated double-wedding extravaganza.
Already predicted to go down in TV history, the upcoming saga will see Weatherfield favourites Eva Price and Aidan Connor finally walk down the aisle in a meticulously planned ceremony, alongside Aidan’s father Johnny and fiancee Jenny Bradley.
Or will it? As is to be expected from ITV’s flagship soap, even the best laid plans will inevitably go awry. And on this occasion, it will all go down in spectacularly action-packed style, launching both Corrie’s brand new six-episode weekly bill and a fresh autumn season of dramatic new tales.
For Catherine Tyldesley, who plays Eva, filming the ambitious scenes at the gorgeous grounds of Prescot’s Knowsley Hall, brought her to the brink of a minor breakdown.
“I’m very high up at one point and I’m terrified of heights, so that was a real challenge for me,” the 33-year-old remembers.
“Especially when a wasp came. Everybody else thought it was hilarious, but I had a breakdown.”
But there were funny moments to, as she recalls: “They were rigging me up to keep me safe while I was high up, but the dress had such a big hoop in it that I was bent over with three SAS guys (behind me). I’ve got a picture.
“They were the most challenging scenes I have ever shot, but I loved every second of it. It was so fab and we had an amazing crew.”
The process also proved to be an exercise in confronting lifelong fears for Jenny’s Sally Ann Matthews, who makes a late entry to the venue after a hair-rising motorbike journey, riding pillion with Hells Angels members Tattitude and Toothless.
Says Sally Ann: “It was terrifying. I had never been on a motorbike, I’m totally risk-averse, I do all talk and no action.
“I had massive bruises on my knees because the only thing I could equate it to was horseriding, so I gripped on. I dug my nails in through the leather (of the Angel’s jacket) and into his love handles.” Yet Jenny and Johnny’s delayed arrival, after a health scare for poor Rita sees them spend most of the day in hospital, is only one of the many disasters about to scupper the doomed nuptials. Eva has been planning for the wedding to mark the climax of a co-ordinated revenge plot targeted at Aidan, after she learnt of his affair with her best friend Maria (Samia Langchambon). But when her fiance (former X Factor champ Shayne Ward) unexpectedly confesses his wrongdoing, it plunges her into fresh emotional turmoil that culminates in Maria and Eva finally taking it outside and into a fountain. Catherine reveals it was almost entirely unscripted. “We had a stunt-coordinator there, but because of the nature of the scene, they said, “Just go for it guys”.
“So we did... within reason. It was pretty-full on, but we got giggles all the time.”
While she assures fans that no humans were injured, filming the soggy scuffle apparently resulted in some serious skin pruning, a fake tan nightmare and six completely ruined wedding frocks – which the fashion guru picked out herself, of course.
For Sally Ann, wardrobe was a much simpler affair, requiring just one elegant gown by designer and friend, Suzanne Neville.
The momentous day will see a turnaround for the fiery character, who made her Cobbles comeback (for what Sally Ann first thought would be a six-month stint) more than two years ago.
While Jenny’s younger self memorably ruffled feathers across Weatherfield in the 1980s and 1990s, she will put her own ceremony on hold to rush to her former foster mother’s side when her ailing health takes a turn for the worse.