Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Flames engulf Rovers Return pub

Stella Price (Michelle Collins) is trapped in the fire at the Rovers Return

Britain's best known pub is engulfed in a ball of flame as landlady Stella Price screams for help when the Rovers Return becomes a raging inferno.

The Coronation Street scenes are part of the swansong storyline for long-time Weatherfield character Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati).

Stella (Michelle Collins) and Sunita are trapped inside as the fire rages around them in dramatic scenes to be screened next week, which took three weeks to film. Corrie residents look on in horror as Stella shouts from an upstairs window while Sunita, who later becomes number one suspect for starting the blaze, lies unconscious in the basement.

Shobna - who is leaving after joining the show in 2001 - said she was in tears after the cameras stopped rolling as the horror of being caught up such a terrifying incident hit home.

"When I finished filming the fire I cried. I thought how awful it must be to actually be in that kind of disaster," she said. "It must be horrific because the heat was horrendous. I could feel the burn. You could actually feel your skin burning. I had a bucket of cold water for me to cool down in because I was that hot; hot beyond belief."

She said of her exit: "It's an amazing send-off. It feels great and I feel so pleased. The Rovers itself burning was hard to watch. When you watched the inside burning there was Betty's picture in flames, along with all those memories.

"Sunita was a barmaid there too so she had an inside-out relationship with the pub. I had a stunt lady there to do any scenes I didn't want to do but when it came to it I just thought this is the last time viewers are going to see me as Sunita, so you might as well see my face and not the back of the stunt double."

Michelle said she too found the filming difficult.

"It was quite frightening. I didn't think it would be as scary as it actually was. To be honest with you I tried not to think about it, which was a good idea. I spent my time talking to the special effects team instead.

"I did feel very protected by everyone there. There were lots of firemen there and lots of people safeguarding. Everyone was really supportive and it really felt like a real fire."

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