Blackpool took centre stage in a special hour-long episode of ITV’s Coronation Street on Wednesday 16th October, and as expected this included an appearance by ‘Princess Alice’ 706. Determined to make the most of their remaining time together, popular character Roy Cropper took his terminally ill wife Hayley to Blackpool which included a trip along the promenade along the unique open-top Balloon car. There were also a few brief glimpses of Flexity2 trams in service, although naturally it was 706 that stole the show.
As part of the story, Roy had made a detailed schedule to ensure that the couple would have enough time to do everything they wanted, but due to windy weather this blew away whilst they were riding on 706‘s top deck! The episode featured some good scenes of the tram which had a full top deck load, and was proudly displaying ‘Bispham’ on its front destination blind, disguising the fact that TV producers had hired it specially for the filming session. Roy also gave Hayley a brief history of the Blackpool tramway, explaining the line’s origins and the unsuccessful conduit operation in the 1880s. Rather inexplicably though, as 706 sailed past the camera the sound of an old-fashioned tramcar gong was dubbed over the film, which of course is inappropriate to a Balloon car!
Although the use of 706 in daytime passenger service during the illuminations would not occur in real life, it was nice to see the Blackpool tramway feature so prominently in one of the most popular British television programmes ever once again, and in more pleasant circumstances than its best remembered appearance: the death of Alan Bradley, caused by Balloon car 710. This was also a welcome reminder that historic trams are quite rightly considered to be a major part of the ‘Blackpool experience’, with the characters riding on a tram as well as walking along the promenade and visiting the North Pier and the famous Tower Ballroom during their brief visit to the resort.