THE nation’s favourite soap is set to swap the cobbles for the seaside once again as its stars head for Blackpool.
And while tourism bosses have hailed the return of Coronation Street as “money can’t buy publicity”, fears have been raised the publicity might not all be positive.
The latest Blackpool plot is reportedly set to feature Rovers Return landlord Steve McDonald and his ex-love Tracy Barlow – played by Simon Gregson and Kate Ford – who head to Blackpool for a family day out with daughter Amy, only to lose the youngster in one of the resort’s arcades.
It will be the second time a Coronation Street child has gone missing in the town after little Simon Barlow disappeared from his grandparents care last year.
And Claire Smith, of StayBlackpool, said: “One half of me thinks any publicity is good publicity, but the other half of me thinks why do they keep losing children? I think it gives the wrong impression, especially when we are trying to create a family friendly image.”
But other tourism chiefs have welcomed the popular soap’s return, which will once again see images of Blackpool beamed to the nation.
“It’s the sort of publicity we could never ever buy as a council,” said Coun Maxine Callow, cabinet member for tourism and regeneration on Blackpool Council.
“Coronation Street have been very good servants to Blackpool over the years and this is wonderful free publicity for the town.
“If it’s showing some wonderful shots of Blackpool, the new Promenade and The Tower it will be fantastic. If they’ve got this (lost child) storyline it’s not just because they are in Blackpool, they could re-write it and put it anywhere.”
And Pat Mancini, from the Queen’s Hotel, on the Promenade, said: “If they get Blackpool on the TV it’s always good for Blackpool.”
Head of VisitBlackpool Natalie Wyatt added: “We work very closely with the writers from Coronation Street, trying to where possible influence the storyline. At the end of the day it’s not real-life, it’s a soap and we’ve no control over them. The fact they are using Blackpool we see as a positive.”
Some of Coronation Street’s most iconic scenes have been filmed in Blackpool over its 50 year history, including Alan Bradley’s untimely death under a tram, Tyrone Dobbs proposing to Maria and Vera Duckworth taking to the Love Train.
ITV declined to comment on when filming would take place.