Coronation Street unveils new on-set memorial to Manchester Arena victims

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment & arts reporter

image source, ITV
image captionMartyn Hett's partner Russell Hayward on the memorial bench at the unveiling of the set extension

A bench dedicated to Martyn Hett and the other victims of last May's Manchester Arena bomb attack has been installed on the Coronation Street set.

Hett, a superfan of the soap, was among the 22 people who died in the attack.

The bench's colourful design includes flowers and Manchester's bee emblem. A plaque says: "We stand together."

It is in a new area of the show's set, which was unveiled on Monday. Hett's partner Russell Hayward said the permanent memorial "means a lot".

image source, ITV/Andrew Boyce
image captionThe bench bears a plaque paying tribute to the victims
image source, Gareth Clements
image captionMartyn Hett was such a big fan he was given a Coronation Street-themed coffin

"It's so wonderful what the Corrie family have done," Hayward told BBC News. "The bench is extraordinary - it's beautiful - and I think he would be beside himself.

"It's just the most bittersweet thing. I can't thank them enough for what they've done.

"Considering Martyn's biggest passion was Coronation Street, to know that he is part of the set now forever, there are no words for it."

The inscription on the bench says: "For Martyn and all those who lost their lives on the 22nd May 2017. We stand together."

A number of stars from the ITV soap attended Hett's funeral in June. His coffin was adorned with pictures of Corrie characters - including his favourite Deirdre Barlow, of whom he had a tattoo on his leg.

image source, ITV/Andrew Boyce
image captionThe bench is in a new urban garden

The bench will be seen on screen in an "urban garden" that has just been created as part of an expansion of the soap's set in Manchester.

"We wanted to create a beautiful and colourful tribute for those who so sadly lost their lives last year," an ITV press release said. The bench was created by Dan Taylor, one of the show's scenic artists, and artist Ruth Wilkinson.

image source, ITV/Andrew Boyce
image captionThe new set also has a tram stop, tattoo parlour and snooker hall

It is on Victoria Street, which also includes a new tram stop, a police station, an Indian restaurant, a tattoo parlour and a snooker hall.

Under a groundbreaking product placement deal, there are also branches of the Co-op supermarket and Costa Coffee.

image source, Andrew Boyce
image captionCosta and Co-op have paid to have their shop fronts on Victoria Street
image source, Andrew Boyce
image captionWeatherfield Police Station is now a permanent fixture

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