Viewers of Britain’s best-loved soap might see a new addition to the decorations of the Rovers Return in the coming weeks: some HMS Liverpool memorabilia.
The ship’s company were given a private tour of the set – and met some of the stars – during the destroyer’s farewell visit to the North West.
Liverpool's sailors pose in the Rovers Return with (l-r) stars Ryan Thomas (Jason Grimshaw), Chris Fountain (Tommy Duckworth), Michelle Keegan (Rovers barmaid Tina McIntyre). Pictures: LA(Phot) Ben Sutton, FRPU North
EAGLE-eyed viewers of Britain’s best-loved soap might see a new addition to the decorations of the Rovers Return in the coming weeks: some HMS Liverpool memorabilia.
Sailors from the veteran destroyer, which decommissioned in Portsmouth on Friday, were given a private tour of the Coronation Street set when the destroyer paid her farewell visit to Liverpool back in February.
The sailors were royally hosted by cast regulars such as Michelle Keegan, Chris Fountain, Ryan Thomas and Antony Cotton, who showed them behind the scenes of Britain’s best-loved soap, including Roy’s cafe and the Rovers.
The visitors left the Corrie stars with some gizzits as a thank-you, including a calendar, signed photograph of the destroyer conducting her final Sea Dart firing and a replica ship’s badge.
“The Coronation Street team were fantastic,” says logistics officer Lt Cdr Steve Gott, who donned Roy’s pinny to get behind the hot plate of his café.
“They were really good fun, really helpful and kept popping in to have a chat.”
Liverpool's crew relax in Roy's cafe
The visit came about courtesy of a chance encounter at the Millies – the Sun Military Awards – last December when the ship received a special award for her deeds off Libya. The sailors bumped into actress Helen Worth (aka Corrie’s Gail McIntyre / Platt / Hillman / Tilsley / Potter…) and a special tour of the set in Manchester was subsequently arranged.
The soap team promised to put up the badge on Rovers’ wall – and were filming episodes for May when the sailors visited, so keep a sharp lookout over the next few weeks.
It’s hopefully one physical reminder of the Crazy Red Chicken – the nickname comes from the distinctive badge on the destroyer’s funnel – which will live on.
Another is a possible Airfix model; a team from the world-famous plastic kit manufacturers visited the ship on a ‘recce’ – they’re considering producing a Type 42 destroyer model, based on the ‘classic’ (or ‘stumpy’) design of the first two batches. Liverpool is the very last of these shorter 42s.
Michelle Keegan tries on Cdr Williams' hat for size
After her place in the sun – a decommissioning ceremony on a glorious spring morn – Liverpool is now going through the lengthy process of de-storing.
Her life truly ends on May 28 when the last members of the ship’s company – which has now been whittled down from the usual 240 to 140 – hand over the keys to the ship to the MOD’s disposal teams.
By then, however, much of the heart will have been taken out of the ship.
The remaining ship’s company move ashore on May 9, the computer systems are shut down a week later. Anything we can be re-used by the Fleet will be stripped out. What cannot will either be tossed in skips, or be left aboard for scrapping.
Tugs blast their fire hoses in appreciation as Liverpool enters Portsmouth for the final time last week. Picture: PO(Phot) Paul Punter, FRPU East
The trophies return to the Trophy Store for future HMS Liverpools – or which pick up her affiliates.
Treasured items such as name plates and boards, the ship’s bell, the huge liver bird badge on the funnel are passed to a memorabilia store; a committee will decide which suitable people or organisations receive the mementoes.
So much for the physical legacy. As for the intangible, try the towns and cities of now-free Libya.
Or maybe the mess decks of HMS Defender.
One third of the ship’s company, some 80 souls, join the fifth of the Type 45s built to succeed Liverpool and her sisters.
“It means there’s a core of battle-hardened sailors on her,” says Lt Cdr Gott. “The Liverpool legacy lives on.”