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Corrie fan group still dedicated to its favourite soap

Even after losing a number of members, Rovers Hot Pots: Edmonton's Coronation Street social club keeps calm and carries on.

As one might guess, Coronation Street viewers tend to be older, those who've followed the residents of the long-running British soap's fictional Weatherfield through thick and thin; marriages, affairs and deaths. And though Corrie (as devoted fans call the show) continues to add contemporary and controversial storylines and teen cast members to appeal to a younger demographic, it's the 'forever fans' that keep the show as popular as ever.

Take The Rovers Hot Pots: Edmonton's Coronation Street social club, for example. The club created by and for avid Corrie fans in 1994 may have seen its heyday some years back, but the group continues to meet (not during the pandemic) and dish about everything Coronation Street. A Christmas get-together, field trips, potlucks and picnics, or a catch-up over fish and chips at a nearby restaurant have also been part of the appeal.

"We had up to 40 members--the discussions could get lively, so the president needed a gavel; a way to calm down the chatter," laughed Rovers Hot Pots president and Corrie fan Katherine Jenkins, who says the club originated with a couple of British ex-pats and their family and friends, but steadily grew through word-of-mouth. "Before COVID-19, we met monthly in a church basement over coffee and snacks. But last year, an exodus of members (some retired, some can't physically get out anymore, some have passed away) brought our group to under ten, making it difficult to continue."

 "It made a big difference to the 'spark' in the club when our founder passed away," said Jenkins. "Marian Junck and her daughter Wendy would record the episode on meeting nights and then go home to watch and talk about it afterwards. It was a whole social experience for them. But our mutual love of Corrie is still our reason for being."

Since the group has to pay rent to use the church (the Rovers Hot Pots charge a $50 annual fee to members), it has made the decision of whether to continue a difficult one. "We're okay for this year, but then we'll have to reassess," said Jenkins. "Maybe we'll just meet informally for a pub get-together now and then."

Jenkins remembers group highlights, such as when Coronation Street stars visited Edmonton for special Q and A events. Barbara Knox (who plays Rita) is among group favourites; and tours featuring Roy and Hayley, Tyrone/Kirk or Gary/Owen characters are likewise well-remembered events.

"We even bought lottery tickets as a group and once won $22,000. Every member got about $1,300. We had said if we ever won big we'd go to the Coronation Street studios in Manchester, but that win wasn't enough to cover expenses, so we just split the pot."

Jenkins says she started watching Corry as a way to connect with her Leeds-born mother-in-law, but was soon hooked too. "I've been watching since 1971, and I love the strong female characters like Hilda, Rita, Bette. The show used to be more character-driven. We once wrote a group letter to the show, saying 'you're going the wrong way' with the teen pregnancies and such."

Club secretary Debra Stack says she lives near the church, so could continue walking to meetings if the club carries on. "I don't feel all hope is lost. I think we'll have to transition--maybe meet quarterly or just socially," she said.

For retiree Stack, her own Corrie experience now includes watching the show weekday evenings, on CBC Gem or listening to podcasts that offer storyline catch-ups and analysis. "There are other outlets for fans today, but it still boils down to the show."

Those interested in the club can reach out through the Rovers Hot Pots Facebook page. Podcasts about the Street, can be found at conversationstreet.podbean.com and thetalkofthestreet.podbean.com.