Will the Rovers return? Coronation Street's iconic pub becomes a raging inferno (but it's nothing to do with the hot pot)


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The Independent Culture

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 scenes, which make Coronation Street look more like a disaster film, 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.

The fire takes hold next Monday as people gather in Nick's Bistro to watch a Full Monty-style charity strip show. Just as the boys are about to raise a few temperatures, Norris rushes in to alert them to the horrors.

Gulati - 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."

Viewers will see the Rovers as a burnt-out shell.

Collins 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."

Stella believes she will die in the blaze, Collins said.

"Obviously she thinks everyone's in the Bistro and that nobody will come to rescue her. At that point I think she genuinely believes she's going to die. She tries to open the window and it's jammed, and she can't get down the stairs either."