The motto on Carlisle’s coat of arms reads ‘Be just and fear not’. Judging by the city’s portrayal on Coronation Street this week, a more appropriate phrase would be ‘Welcome to the back of beyond’.

Corrie character Carla Connor was hospitalised after a breakdown. With her partner Peter Barlow at her bedside, Carla was informed that a place in a suitable unit had been found. But where?

“The nearest available facility is in Carlisle,” said a doctor.

Peter was horrified.


“I’m sorry.”

“That’s practically in Scotland!”

“We’ve done our best, believe me.”

This kind of conversation between medical staff and loved ones is usually to break news of a death, not a trip to Cumbria.

Then again, I could have kissed Peter in one respect. He may be the only person south of Preston, fictional or otherwise, who doesn’t think Carlisle is in Scotland.

Peter’s dad, Ken Barlow, is the longest-serving soap character in the world: 58 years and counting. He has seen a great deal.

Nothing, though, had prepared him for his son visiting Carlisle.

“But that’s miles away! You’ll spend hours going back and forward!”

When Peter had left to pack his snow shoes and organise a team of huskies, Ken confided: “I don’t like the idea of him being on his own in Carlisle. How’s he going to cope?”

It’s ok, Ken. The people are friendly, most of the time. And we’ve got a Primark now.

A leaving party gathered on the street for Peter. “I’m very proud of you,” said Ken. Peter’s son arrived at the last minute - he was coming with his dad! Hugs were exchanged.

Astronauts on moon missions have had less emotional send-offs than this.

Maybe someone should tell them that Carlisle is only 118 miles from Manchester and less than two hours on the train.

To be fair, perhaps there’s good reason for their concern. When a Corrie character comes to Cumbria it rarely ends well. Every fell walk involves an air ambulance or a mountain rescue team.

But what could go wrong in Carlisle?

Peter Barlow is a recovering alcoholic. Perhaps we’ll see him stumbling down Botchergate with a traffic cone on his head.

I was alerted to this storyline by a message on Carlisle United fan site TheCumbrians.Net. One comment claimed that Coronation Street’s ‘soft southern Mancs’ are ‘scared of the true north’. Firm, but fair.