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Coronation Street joins the northern renaissance

26 May 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

To the North of England. In cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, money is being pumped into the cultural adjuncts of the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’, while Hull is reaping the column inches due to its status as UK City of Culture next year. But now it seems there might be another contender for the title of ‘cultural capital of the North’ – despite town city being entirely fictional.

Yes, Weatherfield – the imaginary Manchester suburb known to British readers as the setting for long running ITV soap opera Coronation Street – has thrown its hat into the ring. And so far, the result has caused something of an upset down the Rover’s Return.

According to Scottish paper The Courier, fans of the soap have contacted Dundee University, seeking reassurance that Corrie character Caitlin Ryan is not about to decamp to the City of Discovery to take a BA in fine art. The departure of Caitlin, played by actor Eve Gordon, they fear, will result in a split from her long-term onscreen boyfriend Craig Tinker. Indeed, if the Rake’s experience is anything to go by, all that critical theory can be less than romantic.

Professor Jeanette Paul, acting dean of the Duncan of Jordanstone college of art (the University’s art school) told The Courier – as well, presumably, as Corrie’s distraught fans – that she could neither ‘confirm or deny’ the story that Caitlin’s acceptance to Dundee would spell the end of the relationship, due to ‘data protection legislation’.

As for Ms Ryan’s artistic skills, Professor Paul says:

‘Previously, she drew a picture of [Craig] in the style of Edvard Munch’s The Scream but without seeing the rest of her portfolio it would be unfair to speculate on whether or not she had any chance of gaining admission to one of the UK’s top art and design colleges.’

Rakewell, impartial observer that he is, cannot vouch for the prospects of the relationship. On the bright side, given that Dundee’s artistic alumni include Turner Prize stars Susan Philipsz, Luke Fowler and Louise out of Jane and Louise Wilson, Caitlyn might be in with a shot for the UK’s biggest art award. Are fictional characters eligible for the Turner selection process?

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.