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Corrie Set To Be Listed?

Jonathan Schofield on the uncertain future of an attraction that could bring tens of thousands of visitors to Manchester

Written by . Published on February 1st 2012.


Corrie Set To Be Listed?

CONFIDENTIAL has learned that the city centre set of Coronation Street may be listed. If successful it may mean the set could avoid the worst of all possible outcomes, demolition.

English Heritage has told us: 'We have received an application to consider the Coronation Street set for listing, and we are in the process of providing an assessment. An English Heritage advisor has visited the set.

'Following a consultation period where relevant parties can provide feedback and comment, we will then provide a full report and recommendation as to whether it should be listed. This recommendation will then go to the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) and they will make a decision based on the advice we provide.'

The fact remains that the future of the most famous TV set in the UK and one of the best known world-wide, remains in doubt.

Coronation Street has been filmed at the city centre Granada site since December 1960. Originally it was staged internally. The present and very famous external set dates from 1982. The listing referred to, if successful, will concern the special historic interest of the site. 

Historic interest?

Exactly.

Remember even if Corrie is not  your cup of tea, or your pint of mild, it has been in the hearts and minds of millions of fans around the UK and across the world for more than five decades. For Brits it’s part of growing up and growing old, either something to watch yourself or as part of the cultural background noise.

Listed building status has been sought because ITV are moving and rebuilding the set opposite MediaCityUK in Trafford three miles away. Publicity manager for the show, Stuart King, has told Confidential 'there are no plans to open the new set to the public'.

Coronation StreetCoronation Street

Meanwhile the city centre ITV/Granada site, including the Corrie set, is judged as a 'surplus property asset' to be disposed of as a 'mixed use development'. 

As such ITV have said 'no decision has been made on the future of the current set. All options are open'.

ITV made no comment when Confidential pushed them on whether it would consider retention of the set as a tourist attraction in the centre of the city. They repeated ad infinitum that 'no decision has been reached'. Given the prime location of the property there's clearly potential for the world famous Coronation Street set to be demolished should it not fit in with the plans of a future developer.

Official disinterest

So who asked for the set to be listed by English heritage? 

English Heritage aren't letting on who made the application. It wasn't ITV and it wasn't the city council or the tourist agencies for the region - Marketing Manchester and Visit Manchester.

Surprising really.

Given the massive fame of the site you might have thought that our tourist champions would be straining every nerve to retain this prime tourism real estate.

That's not the case. 

Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester, said: “We recognise the importance of Coronation Street in terms of attracting visitors to the city. The show has a large fanbase in the UK and further afield, with large audiences in Canada and New Zealand. With this in mind, Visit Manchester is in talks with ITV about how to maximise the Coronation Street brand.” 

These generalised statements about the Corrie brand didn't say anything about preserving the set.

So we asked again. This time Paul Simpson, managing director of Visit Manchester simply re-iterated the ITV position, "It's all unclear until we know more about the uses the present site might be put to."

There was talk of whether the Coronation Street brand fitted the Manchester brand. Encouraged by Confidential to take the lead in a campaign to save the set for Manchester tourism the "no decision" line was repeated.

The same non-committal stance was adopted by Cllr Mike Amesbury, the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, in Manchester City Council.

That the tourism agency and council aren't prepared to make a firm commitment to saving the Corrie city centre set - a scene of so much drama for so many millions for so many years - is, as stated, surprising. 

Tens of thousands of visitors

From 1989 to 1999 Granada Studios Tour attracted around half a million visitors a year to Manchester. The main reason people came was for the Coronation set. On the tours I conducted as a professional guide round the city at that time, the ones that included Granada Studios Tour visitors, four out of five visitors had come for the Corrie set. When the demands of filming increased as more shows were put on, the Corrie set was put off limits to visitors and the Studios Tour closed.

This emotional pull often led to extreme examples of how deeply ingrained in people's lives the soap opera was. 

On one visit an older lady walked down 'The Street' and then walked back to the Rovers. She took her shoes off and replaced them with a spare pair from her bag.

“Why did you do that?” I asked.

“The ones I’ve taken off are going on the mantelpiece, a souvenir from Coronation Street,” she said.

I shook my head in amazement and looked up to see another guest posting a note through the letter-box of a house on the set.

“Why have you posted that?” I asked.

“I'm telling the woman who lives here that she shouldn’t have an affair with Mike Baldwin, he’s a shifty character and it’ll come to no good,” she said.

Liverpool lessons

35 miles west there is an example of the money a city can miss out on if it ignores its popular culture icons.

Dave Jones is the boss of Cavern City Tours in Liverpool and runs The Cavern, the world-famous club, where the Beatles cemented their fame in the early sixties. 

"I have evidence," he says, "that even by 1964 we had tourists coming to Liverpool to visit the sites associated with the group."

"British Rail had already bought the site of the Cavern, for a ventilation shaft for the underground railway. The original Cavern was destroyed in 1974 as part of this although it appears a payment of £500 could have saved it and British Rail would have moved the shaft elsewhere."

"So we lost for ten years a magnet for tourism in Liverpool until it was re-created on its original site in 1984," continues Jones.

"You can't blame the city council for the loss. People weren't thinking in terms of bringing tourism to Northern ex-industrial cities, when the Cavern was demolished. You would have been laughed at for suggesting it. But that has changed now, tourism is a key part of the forward strategy of cities such as Manchester and Liverpool."

So does Dave Jones think the Corrie set should be preserved as a tourist attraction in Manchester?

"There'd be no excuse not to keep it," he says. "It's there already. Nothing has to be re-built as it had to with the Cavern. This isn't the sixties or the seventies, there is a huge tourist infrastructure in Manchester today. The Corrie set could bring in thousands of visitors, be a main part of the tourism picture. It would be a sin to get rid of it, inexplicable. You couldn't make an excuse for losing that revenue now and getting rid of it."

The Cavern before demolition in the seventiesThe Cavern before demolition in the seventies

Local voices

Back in Manchester there is none of the official reticence of the agencies and authorities about retention of the set. We asked people in Castlefield adjacent to the Corrie set for their thoughts. 

“It’s a no-brainer,” says Jon Grieves of Choice Restaurant, Castlefield, “We have to keep the set. Coronation Street has pulling power from around the world and across the country. If the set were to be opened as a tourist attraction then it would bring in thousands of people. When I once went there the set was closed for filming and everybody on my tour was disappointed. The set was the real reason for going to Granada Studios Tour. As the owner of a business in the area I can see nothing but good coming from it being used as a tourist attraction.”

Carol Middleton, chair of the Castlefield Forum (http://www.ourcastlefield.co.uk/), an association of residents and businesses, says, "As a group we are really keen to bring the right kind of events and tourists into Castlefield. Having the Coronation Street set open to the public again would, I think, bring in families and tourists with a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Lots of people have already said it would be fantastic to have it on the doorstep. I would be flabbergasted if anybody thought otherwise."

Confidential has even found an operator for part of the set. We asked whether William Lees-Jones, the boss of Manchester brewers JW Lees, would be interested in taking over the Rovers Return as a pub in Manchester? (JW Lees boardroom has featured in Corrie as the boardroom of fictional brewers Newton and Ridley.)

"Of course we would. In a shot. It'd fit perfectly with our other pubs and be good for city tourism as well. If Manchester is serious about tourism we need a few more things to do for families and for the general visitor aside from the markets and the museums. Liverpool is now a regular visit for my family, they seem to have taken to heart more than we have the benefits of tourism."

He paused for a second before concluding, "The Corrie set coming free is a brilliant opportunity that’s come the city’s way. It must be grabbed with both hands."

Original modern city

Manchester has been trying to apply the Peter Saville dreamt up phrase 'original modern' to its ideas in marketing, tourism and branding. 

This phrase - a peculiar Manchester albatross in many instances - has been quoted privately about the Corrie set amongst city movers and shakers. In otherwords does it fit with the 'original modern' idea.

Confidential thinks you can't get more 'orginal and modern' than the world's longest running TV soap. 'Original' in that it translated the 'kitchen sink drama' into a soap. 'Modern' because it was a first in terms of this level of appeal in popular culture - and it's still operational today. 

And as for ideas that Corrie as a tourist attraction doesn't fit the Manchester brand we think that sheer nonsense. Manchester has been and is a great city of science and culture but a massive part of the latter inheritance involves popular culture. 

If we don't think Corrie is an important part of our heritage then neither are United, City, The Smiths and so on. 

The perfect solution might be if the adjacent Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) take the set under its wing and have a Broadcasting and Media Industry section.  

MOSI, by its own admission, has struggled at times in recent years with visitor figures. Despite picking up slightly last year, visitor numbers have been in steady decline. 

The chance, then, to anchor a new broadcast and media exhibition around one of Manchester’s television success stories is one MOSI should be doing all it can to seize - surely?

But no.

A spokesperson for the museum said: “Talks over the Coronation Street set are on hold at the moment because of the merger with the National Museum of Science and Industry group. Once that’s sorted we’ll reconsider the issue but there’s no movement on that at all for now.”

With a new director about to come into post we can just about excuse the hesitation. But when Jean  M Franczyk does arrive this month Confidential recommends she examine this potentially massive money spinner for her organisation urgently and with close attention. 

The fact remains that the future of the most famous TV set in the UK and one of the best known world-wide remains in doubt.

"It's there already. Nothing has to be re-built," Dave Jones  said to Confidential. The argument for a quick and clear decision about the set's retention seems, to us, as Jon Grieves noted, "a no-brainer." 

Yet the official agencies and the council dither and ITV talks of 'surplus property assets'. 

Could the unthinkable happen and an act of popular culture vandalism take place in the near future? Does Manchester really want to miss out on this opportunity? 

Let's hope the Corrie set gets listed as soon as possible. Let's hope a decision is made as soon as possible. 

Thanks to Paul Berentzen for his help in researching this article. You can follow Jonathan Schofield on @JonathSchofield

 

Coronation Street Set - more catastrophe on the way?Coronation Street Set - more catastrophe on the way?

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48 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Andrea ElmasFebruary 1st 2012.

Why did they ever stop the tours?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

Re-read the article

crispy40February 1st 2012.

Wow, i can't believe the city council/marketing manchester/MOSI aren't all over this already, it's astounding that they would even consider allowing it to be demolished???

Heather ButlerFebruary 1st 2012.

They were great weren't they Andrea. Went so many times and loved each and every one !

Man Con: Who do we have to appeal to in order to make the MOSI / JW Lees combination happen? MOSI director, ITV, the council? Tell us who to write to and we will !!

jmwFebruary 1st 2012.

Bring back the studios tour! I loved going, even went on school trips there.

Anyone remember the set where everything was oversized and you felt the size of the borrowers when walking through?! Costume department, news room - all brilliant!

Even remember watching 3D screenings (with the crap glasses) many years ago - one in particular with snakes & sharks, amazing experience for adults & children.

Corrie was always a highlight though and it was great to see some of the cast around the studios in between takes.

Fun memories :o)

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Andrea, read the above...
"When the demands of filming increased as more shows were put on, the Corrie set was put off limits to visitors and the Studios Tour closed"

jonnygforceFebruary 1st 2012.

It'll probably be down to the wrong decision makers, ie someone who isn't passionate about the Corrie brand, in the same way the tours were badly managed and subsequently closed.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

It's not a tourist attraction, it's currently a working TV set and once it doesn't serve that function it will very quickly deteriorate.

The "real" set will evolve and change (the "Street" is already massively different from how it looked 10 years ago - Medical Centre, Victoria St Flats, Peter's Bar etc.) which means the mothballed set will look outdated and irrelevant within a few years.

Also, the Granada tours attracted visitors because it was the real working set, with a good chance of seeing a few of the turns if you got lucky. The idea of listing a TV set seems like madness to me.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

The 'tourism professionals' in the city do not want Manchester to be associated with Coronation Street. You are correct Jonathan, they don't see it as a 'fit' with the 'original-modern' concept. It smacks of short-sighted snobbishness.

How many Corrie souvenirs can you buy at 'official outlets'? Two postcards.

Kevin PeelFebruary 1st 2012.

I'd like to see the set retained but it's entirely at the whim of itv to decide who they sell the site to and for what purpose.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Philistine!

Sidney Bernstein will be spinning in his grave at the blithe disregard for his magnificent Granada headquarters building - a genuinely important cultural monument as opposed to an ephemeral and flimsy TV set which is, after all, being recreated at the new site.

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 1st 2012.

Anon, I refer you to my comment below

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Unbelievable. Priorities well and truly upside down here. It is Granada House and the studio block that should be listed NOT the set.

This continuing fetishisation of one small part of the city's media output is thoroughly depressing. Also insulting to the achievements of the thousands of people employed across the full range of publishing, newspapers, TV, film and other creative industries down the years in the city.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 1st 2012.

Anon slow down. Completely agree with you about Granada House. But this article is specifically about the Corrie set, which is real and on the ground now, not about the excellent work that Granada did across the site. That's for another article.

ali mcgFebruary 1st 2012.

Anon, why is it thoroughly depressing? Like it or lump it, it's part of Manchester's heritage (albeit that Weatherfield is, of course in Salford!). We should be proud that it's been such a huge success - and it's only one tiny part of reasons to visit Manchester. Simple fact is, people will come to view it - so why not keep it? Or would you prefer another monotonous block of rabbit-hutch flats instead?

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Fair enough, but there is a danger that any popular campaign for the retention of the Corrie set will act as a trojan horse-style sop that will allow them to get away with the destruction of the buildings of genuine importance and value.

I wouldn't be surprised if ITV and the City Council have a masterplan for the site already worked up given the advanced stage of ITV's move to Salford Quays and the need to properly market their existing site. They won't give a stuff about any of this inconvenient heritage stuff, its all about maximising value for their shareholders.

There will be the usual token and inconsequential public consultation on the plan but essentially the danger is it will soon be a fait acompli. So the earlier these issues are aired and the public can make their views known the better.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Ali - missed my point somewhat. I'm not denying the popular appeal of Coronation Street but to preserve an exterior TV set, (which let's face it could be reconstructed anywhere and have the same popular appeal), whilst turning a blind eye to buildings of genuine importance and longevity like Granada House is not only perverse from a conservation point of view but shows complete disregard for the rest of Granada's considerable achievements. And in the context of speculation around a new media wing for MOSI the danger is it further marginalises the rest of the city's output in favour of a single, albeit enormously popular TV show.

ali mcgFebruary 2nd 2012.

Agree the office block should be retained - but you're arguing for that to be saved and not the set. Why not... BOTH??!!!

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

In an ideal world, both should be retained, I do agree. But if it came down to a choice of retaining the TV set or the Granada House and studio, I would go for the latter.

CBFebruary 1st 2012.

great piece Johnathan. You need to continue to bang the drum though as your one of the only people who knows his stuff, his some influence but isn't bound by the constraints of working for one of the tourism agencies/Council etc

If we can have a football museum then the snobbish pop culture argument is lost. Viva Corrie. Wasnt Dave Haslam's excellent book called 'Manchester - the pop cult city'?...

Rob MortimerFebruary 1st 2012.

It would be a travesty if the set was not kept in some way.
I have friends in North America who watch it every day. To remove that kind of tourist attraction from Manchester would be a complete waste.

Hero
Andrea TimoneyFebruary 1st 2012.

Don't forget the innocent victims here, Victoria & Rosamund St!

Julie TurnerFebruary 1st 2012.

when we were in the process of buying our apartment next to granada tv 'coronation st' is on the plans

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Granada bought their site at Salford off Peel,who have just had their application to turn Pinewood Studios into a theme park turned down,I wonder if.

JoanFebruary 1st 2012.

A city which proclaims its importance as widely and successfully as Manchester should be able to save both while allowing other parts of the site to develop. The usual mix of apartments and high-quality office accommodation is probable, plus, I would hope, the preservation or even extension of the existing green space on the site but this time opened up to the general public. It would link well with the popular St John’s Gardens. Ideally the Corrie set should be saved and properly managed as a visitor attraction and Granada House listed as an important building with the stunning interiors saved too. Manchester Modernist Society makes a great case for Granada House.

www.manchestermodernistsociety.org/atrisk.html…

I think one of the difficulties with the Corrie set is that once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. I’m a true Corrie fan but while the fist visit was exciting, particularly so as we got to stand on Rosamund Street and watch some outdoor filming, I wouldn’t have visited a second time if it hadn’t been a work-based visit. Once every ten years is about enough, so I’m overdue a return, perhaps to the Rovers. I’d hate to see the bulldozers move in. Imagine the press coverage!

A colonial viewFebruary 1st 2012.

Original modern as a tourist brand- WTF?

Yes birth place of modern industrial world, for a sort period had a world leading music scene. Good use that in the internal UK tourism market but those are fading with the rest of the worlds collective memory.

It is Soccer that the city is now most famous.

In the smaller part of the world where the tough guys are on the field or rink and not fighting the cops outside the stand (joking) it is Corrie (or Corro). Such a big deal in NZ that the PM took time out from the recent election campaign to look into the programs rescheduling! I kid you not.

To get someone from Shanghai out of London on their UK trip do you beckon ‘ see Manchester with all its regeneration and new tall building’ Or the Kiwi back packer ‘ spend a sunny weekend basking in the natural beauty of Philips park’. ‘Hello Canada – Chilli factor skiing awaits!’

Yeah Right.

Manchester tourist gurus - get em (and their £) here with football and Corro and then they can pop across to the Lowry or next door to MoSI and learn why their granny calls cotton sheets ‘Manchester goods’. So much great Manc/Salford stuff may take a 2nd trip!

Does NZ try to pull Poms with its fine art and classical music scene?.... Manc planners don't be so high brow recognise your strengths - bang the crap out of that Corro drum!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Saw-ker?

A colonial viewFebruary 1st 2012.

My apologies I meant Foutbowl

Glenda YoungFebruary 1st 2012.

Brilliant article, thank you! I've mentioned it and linked to you from our Coronation Street fan website at http://coronationstreetupdates.blogspot.com/

Glenda

Sharon ByrneFebruary 2nd 2012.

As Salford Signs (now Vital Signs & Graphics) we worked forr 10 years at Granada Studios Tour...happy days! It was hugely popular with both British & foreign visitors...queues snaked round Water Street in the summer. I remember making a mini gravestone for Mavis's pet (dead!) budgie....Oh the glamour of it all! Sadly, the whole thing seemed to fall apart when they introduced fancy-dan (v.expensive) rides which never worked properly if I recall correctly. My gut feeling is that it could be a tourism revenue earner once again...Mancunians should be behind it, and proudly!

posterboyFebruary 2nd 2012.

Sadly, the whole thing fell apart when the visionary local hero David Plowright was usurped by the bean counters Robinson and Allen (...anything but a comedy duo) in London, and Granada's remit as a regional broadcaster disappeared down the profit and loss account of ITV plc.

Plowright's vision was to take tourists from cruise liners in Liverpool, up the Ship Canal/Irwell to the Studios Tour /MoSI and then let them continue the journey to the City Centre by gondola in the underground tunnels exiting at the Great Northern Goods Warehouse.

Time has moved on. A Studios Tour is best left to those who still have studios in America, where of course even the smallest town manages to package its heritage for tourism in a way which shames us in the UK. Our original and modern city has a compelling offer, if only we could present it like our transatlantic cousins...

When Bernstein invites ASK or Argent or Allied London/ITV selects a developer* (*delete as appropriate), a condition of any redevelopment should be the transfer of the set to MoSI/funding for a permanent Corrie exhibition/history of Granada/programme making in Manchester etc.

And yes, Granada House should be listed and retained too.

Frankly it is the very least ITV should offer for the debt it owes for the contribution made by Manchester and the north west to the success of commercial television in this country.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

As usual in Manchester NCP will probably have the last word on what happens

Daniel BarkerFebruary 2nd 2012.

Well put Posterboy and i'm sure the elected dictatorship of this City will already be putting the wheels in motion to frustrate the English Heritage listing process so that it can be free to redevelop the site in which ever way it wants to (with one of the afore mentioned developers).

Now, as i've already made reference to in a previous comment on the future of Granada, can we please have the listing amended to include the Baker Street set as a Site of Special 1990's New Year Foam Party Interest??

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

Sorry to inform you the last bit of the Baker St set is in a skip (Holmes front door)

Daniel BarkerFebruary 3rd 2012.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

tFebruary 2nd 2012.

I'd expect the council to fight hard to sell this to whichever developer wants to build the most flats.

Imagine how much extra council tax a plot this size would generate.

AnonymousFebruary 3rd 2012.

I can't understand why the Kabin hasn't become a Tesco Express yet, it's shocking! - you've got to hike all the way down Quay Street at the moment..unless of course a Mega Extra is on the cards (you could always round the trolleys up Norris)

annedrFebruary 3rd 2012.

Why do people think that the current "Street" is the original one? Before this one was built it was filmed in another area of Granada, on the corner of Water Street, and another Street (which has now been closed and is part of the Granada Studios), it was near Princess Bridge area, behind big wooden gates - the railway arches at the end of the street were real ones used now by the Railway Museum. I remember it clearly when I was a child on the 67 bus going to Manchester from Salford, I used to sit on the right hand side of the bus up-stairs so that I could see "The Street" - it was one of the highlights of going to town on a Saturday. Surely I am not the only person to remember this. Please do not let the Granada site be demolished when it could be a wonderful attraction to the area - if managed correctly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GimboidFebruary 3rd 2012.

Because most people don't really give a monkeys, probably. Strange question.

annedrFebruary 3rd 2012.

What is even more strange is the fact that people who don't really give a monkeys take the time to read this article, makes you think?

1 Response: Reply To This...
GimboidFebruary 3rd 2012.

I didn't read the article, I saw your comment on the first page and was intrigued so clicked through and read it. Stick that in your pipe of strangeness, and smoke it.

AnonymousFebruary 3rd 2012.

It's not the '82 set that should be listed (tho it would be nice to keep it) but, of course, the original Granada studio block, the first purpose-built TV studios in the country. Just as historically important in its own way as the first passenger railway station around which MOSI has been established. And no reason why it couldn't become part of the Museum now that MOSI is part of the national museum (which includes the National Media Museum, based in Bradford).

So if you want to write to someone, write to the NMSI trustees suggesting this, and maybe to MCC to encourage ITV to 'donate' the Granada studio block to the national museum for posterity.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2012.

Could not agree more. Great post.

SoapysudsFebruary 11th 2012.

Not only does it not fit in with Richard Leese's White Elephant ideas, there is nothing in it for him. I would prefer Holts than JWLees, as Holts is a Manchester Brewery.

Gerry StewartMarch 29th 2012.

As old as Corrie leaves The cavern club far behind in terms of great music artiest that have played there .But it still stands in almost its original form.
Music historical tours brings in 250 million pounds a year to Liverpool. This is one asset Manchester really needs to keep.
musicheritageuk.tumblr.com/…/interview-with-pete-roberts-of-the-twisted-wheel…

Ratan LawrenceAugust 26th 2013.

Yes, I am very disappointed because I am not able to visit Granada Studio. I came here from Canada and I was really excited to visit Corrie Street instead we went to Liverpool, not bad here. City Council, I order for you to promote your City, you need to work harder. I know there are many in Canada wants to visit Corrie Street.

Deborah ThorleyJune 14th.

2 years a go i was disappointed when shaun was in the factory and said ther wasnt a enough material to make a thong for a midget this was in corrie i dont think its right and some think needs doing to stop this im a midget and i was so up set now i dont want to know whats going on in corrie very bad

Deborah ThorleyJune 14th.

how long before i get a email to say you got my post nothink was done with my rant just like corrie dident get back to me i should have took it to the press and one day i will go to see them and tell them how i felt

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