Speakers Hoyle and Pelosi visit Weatherfield’s cobbles
The Speaker of the House of Commons took his US counterpart Nancy Pelosi to the Rovers Return during a visit to the set of Coronation Street.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives met cast and crew of the show to discuss its hard-hitting storyline about hate crime - and the power of television to influence democracy.
The topic has been a major theme at the G7 Speakers’ summit in Chorley, Lancashire, which heard how politicians, journalists, activists and public figures had been driven away from politics because of physical and social media abuse.
Sir Lindsay and Speaker Pelosi, along with Speakers from France and Italy, spent an hour touring the home of the ITV soap, which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Sir Lindsay said: ‘Coronation Street is the best-loved and most influential soap in the UK - if not the world - so its story-telling really makes people think about issues that affect us all.
‘The hate crime storyline is among the most powerful yet, and chimes so well with the problems we are facing in democracies across the world – the ability to keep parliaments open, yet secure, and to allow people to have their voice heard, without compromising the safety of those who represent them.’
During their visit, the Speakers met David Neilson, the Street’s café owner Roy Cropper, and his on-screen niece Nina, played by Mollie Gallagher, who are both central to the violent gang-attack plot.
The Seb and Nina storyline was influenced by the true-life murder of 20-year-old Lancashire student Sophie Lancaster.
Coronation Street series producer Iain MacLeod said he and his team were ‘thrilled’ to host the closing sessions of the G7 Speakers’ conference on the set.
‘Coronation Street is proud of its agenda-setting stories that drive progressive conversations at a national level,’ he said.
‘Hopefully by discussing our Hate Crime storyline with Sir Lindsay and his colleagues from around the world, we have given them an insight into what goes into telling a story around such an important, real-world issue.’
The visit also gave the Speakers an opportunity to pause at a memorial on the set to the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, which claimed the lives of 22 people and injured many more.
The weekend G7 Speakers’ Summit at Astley Hall in Sir Lindsay’s Chorley constituency was convened to discuss ‘Secure versus Open Parliaments’.
The programme included contributions from former Prime Minister Theresa May, award-winning actor and activist Joanna Lumley, and campaigner Christina Adane – responsible for a petition calling for free school meals for children during holidays.
Image credits: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor