Why do working class Mancunians make for such good television drama? The city that gave us Coronation Street is also home to the massively successful Channel 4 series Shameless. And we now learn that the latter is looking for a suitable spot to build its own permanent film set. So just as the Corrie cobbles became a top tourist draw for Granada Studios, so could the alleyways of the Chatsworth Estate one day attract Shameless pilgrims from far and wide.
Not that the similarities between the two programmes should be overstated. While Coronation Street still tends to keep its humour on the gentle side, Shameless builds its comic story lines around single parenthood, alcoholism, drug abuse, arson, car crime, closet homosexuality, loan sharking, agoraphobia, and Tourette's syndrome. And that was just series one.
As Frank Gallagher, the over-refreshed patriarch of the Shameless universe, once put it: "Human misery - you can't get enough of it!" And we're clearly not the only ones. This modern Hogarthian melodrama has been screened in Australia, America, Canada, Finland, Portugal, and Holland, proving that a well-written drama (even with a northern accent as thick as a pint of Boddingtons) always travels well.
But this business of building a permanent set for successful soaps gets us thinking. Coronation Street, Albert Square, Brookside Close - and now the Chatsworth Estate. But what about the original soap? Why on earth has the BBC not thought to build an Ambridge? Shameful.