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Coronation Street

Coronation Street (commonly known as 'Corrie') is an award-winning soap opera created by Tony Warren. It is one of the longest-running television programmes in the United Kingdom, first broadcast on Friday, 9 December 1960, made by Granada and broadcast in all regions of ITV almost throughout its existence.

Production history

The show was created by Tony Warren and is still produced by Granada Television, holder of the ITV franchise for the northwest of England, and was shown by most of the ITV stations then operating (See Scheduling details below). It became fully networked on 6 March 1961, when ATV, the only remaining franchise then still not broadcasting the programme, began airing it.

The working title of the show was Florizel Street, but a tea lady named Agnes remarked that "Florizel" sounded like a brand of disinfectant, so the name was changed. The choice of new name was between Jubilee Street and Coronation Street, with Granada executives Harry Latham, Harry Elton, and H. V. Kershaw deciding on the latter.

Setting

Coronation Street (commonly nicknamed and written as Corrie or the Street) is set in a fictional street in Weatherfield, a fictional town in Salford, Greater Manchester. The programme focuses on the experiences and driving forces behind the residents of Coronation Street, and examines families and individuals within the community who are of different ages, classes, and social structures.

Coronation Street itself consists of:

The programme also incorporates the residents of neighbouring streets, including Rosamund Street, Victoria Street, and Viaduct Street.

Broadcasts

In the United Kingdom, as of January 2008, Coronation Street is broadcast at 19.30 and 20.30 on Mondays and Fridays, and at 19.30 Wednesdays on terrestrial network ITV. Repeat episodes and specials can be seen on ITV's main digital channel, ITV2, with an omnibus edition shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. ITV2 has offered this sort of catchup since the channel began broadcasting Coronation Street in December 1998. Since January 2008, the omnibus has moved back to the main ITV channel where it currently broadcasts every Saturday morning.

In Ireland, Coronation Street is simulcast on TV3.

In Canada, Coronation Street is broadcast nightly on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) at 19:00 local time Monday-Friday, with an omnibus on Sundays usually starting at 07:30 EXCEPT during Stanley Cup hockey playoff season (April-May) when only the Sunday omnibus is broadcast. Canada is currently 9 months behind Britain. This means that episodes currently broadcast there were broadcast in the UK in January 2008.

In New Zealand, Coronation Street is broadcast nearly every Tuesday and Thursday on TV1 at 19:30. New Zealand is currently 14 months behind Britain. Episodes there currently being broadcast were shown in the UK in May/June 2007

In Australia the show is broadcast on Cable network's Foxtel and Austar 6 days a week and is currently 15 months behind Britain. Episodes that are currently been screened were shown in the UK in April/May 2007.

Characters

Since 1960, Coronation Street has featured many characters whose popularity with viewers and critics has differed. The original cast created by Tony Warren, with the characters of Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) and Annie Walker (Doris Speed) as central figures. These three women remained with the show for 20 years or more, and became archetypes of British soap opera, often being emulated by other serials, with Ena as the street's busybody, battleaxe and self-proclaimed moral voice; Elsie as the tart with a heart, who was constantly hurt by men in the search for true love; and Annie Walker, landlady of the Rovers Return Inn, who had delusions of grandeur and saw herself as better than other residents of Coronation Street.

Coronation Street became known for the portrayal of strong female characters, with characters like Sharples, Walker and Tanner, and Hilda Ogden, becoming household names during the 1960s. Warren's programme was largely matriarchal, which some commentators put down to the female-dominant environment in which he grew up. Consequently, the show has a long tradition of hen-pecked husbands, most famously Stan Ogden and Jack Duckworth, husbands of Hilda and Vera respectively.

Only one character from the original episode remains, Ken Barlow (William Roache). He entered the storyline as a young radical, reflecting the youth of 1960s Britain, where figures like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the model Twiggy were to reshape the concept of youthful rebellion. Though the rest of the original Barlow family were killed off, Ken has remained the constant link throughout 48 years of Coronation Street.

Stan Ogden and Hilda Ogden were introduced in 1964, with Hilda (Jean Alexander) becoming one of the most famous British soap characters of all time. In a 1982 poll, she was voted fourth most recognisable woman in Britain, after Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales. Hilda's best-known attributes were her pinny, hair curlers, and the "muriel" in her living room with three "flying" duck ornaments. Hilda Ogden's final episode on 25 December 1987, remains the highest-rated episode of Coronation Street ever, with nearly 27 million viewers.

Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) first appeared in 1966, before becoming a regular in 1970, and went on to become one of the most famous Corrie characters. Bet stood as the central character of the show from 1987 until departing in 1995, often being dubbed as "Queen of the Street" by the media, and indeed herself.

Coronation Street and its characters often rely heavily on archetypes, with the characterisation of some of its current cast based loosely on past characters. Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) embodies the role of the acid-tongued busybody originally held by Ena Sharples, Sally Webster (Sally Whittaker) has grown snobbish, like Annie Walker, and a number of the programme's female characters mirror the vulnerability of Elsie Tanner and Bet Lynch. Other recurring archetypes include the war veteran (Albert Tatlock, Percy Sugden), the bumbling retail manager (Leonard Swindley, Reg Holdsworth, Norris Cole), and the perennial losers (Stan and Hilda Ogden, Jack and Vera Duckworth, and Les Battersby-Brown). However, former archivist and scriptwriter Daran Little cautions against characterising the show as a collection of stereotypes. "Rather, remember that Elsie, Ena and Co. were the first of their kind ever seen on British television. If later characters are stereotypes, it's because they are from the same original mould. It is the hundreds of programmes that have followed which have copied Coronation Street.".

History

1960s

The serial began on 9 December 1960 and was not initially a critical success. Granada Television commissioned only 13 episodes and some inside the company doubted the show would last its planned production run. Despite the negativity, viewers were immediately drawn to the serial, won over by Coronation Street's 'ordinary' characters. The programme also made use of Northern English language and dialect; affectionate local terms like "eh, chuck?", "nowt" (IPA:/naʊt/, rhymes with out, means nothing), and "by heck!" became widely heard on British television for the first time.

Early episodes told the story of student Kenneth Barlow, who had won a place at university and thus found his background something of an embarrassment. The character is one of the few to have experienced life 'outside' of Coronation Street, and in some ways predicts the growth of globalisation and the decline of similar communities. In a 1961 episode, Barlow declares: "You can't go on just thinking about your own street these days. We're living with people on the other side of the world. There's more to worry about than Elsie Tanner and her boyfriends.

Also at the centre of many early stories was Ena Sharples, caretaker of the Glad Tidings Mission Hall, and her friends: timid Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) and bespectacled Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol). The trio were likened to the Greek chorus, and the three witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, as they would sit in the snug bar of the Rovers Return, passing judgement over family, neighbours and frequently each other. Headstrong Ena often clashed with Elsie Tanner, whom she believed espoused a dauntlessly loose set of morals. Elsie resented Ena's interference and gossip, which, most of the time, had little basis in reality.

In September 1961, Coronation Street reached No.1 in the television ratings and remained there for the rest of the year. Earlier in 1961, a Television Audience Measurement (TAM) showed that 75% of available viewers (15 million) tuned into Corrie and by 1964 the programme had over 20 million regular viewers, with ratings peaking on December 2, 1964, at 21.36 million viewers.

Storylines throughout the decade included: a mystery poison-pen letter received by Elsie Tanner, the 1962 marriage of Ken Barlow and Valerie Tatlock, the death of Martha Longhurst in 1964, the birth of the Barlow twins in 1965, Elsie Tanner's wedding to Steve Tanner as well as a train crashing from the viaduct (both in 1967), the murder of Steve Tanner in 1968, and a coach crash in 1969. In spite of rising popularity with viewers, Coronation Street was criticised by some for its outdated portrayal of the urban working-class, and its representation of a community that was a nostalgic fantasy. After the first episode in 1960, the Daily Mirror printed: "The programme is doomed from the outset.... For there is little reality in this new serial, which apparently, we have to suffer twice a week. By 1967, critics were suggesting that the programme no longer reflected life in 1960s Britain, but reflected how life was in the 1950s. Granada hurried to update the programme, with the hope of introducing more issue-driven stories, including drugs, sex, homosexuality and out of wedlock pregnancy, but all of these ideas were dropped for fear of upsetting viewers.

1970s

The show's production team was tested when many core cast members left the programme in the early 1970s. When Arthur Leslie died suddenly in 1970, his character, Rovers landlord Jack Walker, died with him. Anne Reid quit as Valerie Barlow, and was killed off in 1971, electrocuting herself with a faulty hairdryer. Ratings reached a low of 8 million in February 1973, Pat Phoenix quit as Elsie Tanner, Violet Carson (Ena Sharples) was written out for most of the year due to illness, and Doris Speed (Annie Walker) took two months’ leave. ITV daytime soap Crossroads saw a marked increase in viewers at this time, as its established cast, such as Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon), grew in popularity. These sudden departures forced the writing team to quickly develop characters who had previously stood in the background. The roles of Bet Lynch, Deirdre Hunt (Anne Kirkbride), Rita Littlewood (Barbara Knox) and Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow) were built up between 1972 and 1973 with characters such as Gail Potter (Helen Worth), Blanche Hunt (Patricia Cutts and Maggie Jones) and Vera Duckworth (Elizabeth Dawn) first appearing in 1974. These characters would remain at the centre of the programme for many years.

The 1970s was also the decade when Coronation Street began to include more comedy in its storylines, at the insistence of new producer Bill Podmore who joined in 1976, having worked on Granada comedy productions prior to his appointment. Stan and Hilda Ogden were often at the centre of overtly funny story lines, with other comic characters including Eddie Yeats (Geoffrey Hughes), Fred Gee (Fred Feast) and Jack Duckworth (William Tarmey) all making their first appearances during the decade.

In 1976, Pat Phoenix returned to her role as Elsie Tanner and, after a spate of ill health, Violet Carson returned as Ena. Coronation Street's stalwart cast slotted back into the programme alongside the newcomers, examining new relationships between characters of different ages and backgrounds: Eddie Yeats became the Ogdens' lodger, Gail Potter and Suzie Birchall moved in with Elsie, Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) arrived in 1976 as the tough factory boss, and Annie Walker reigned at the Rovers with her trio of staff Bet Lynch, Betty Turpin and Fred Gee.

Storylines throughout the decade included: a warehouse fire in 1975, the birth of Tracy Langton in 1977, the murder of Ernest Bishop in 1978, a lorry crashing into the Rovers Return in 1979, and the marriage of Brian Tilsley and Gail Potter (also in 1979).

Coronation Street had little competition within its prime time slot, and certain critics suggested that the programme had grown complacent, moving away from socially-viable story lines and again presenting a dated view of working-class life.

1980s

Between 1980 and 1989, Coronation Street underwent some of the biggest changes since its launch. By May 1984, Ken Barlow stood as the only original cast member, after the departures of Ena Sharples (in 1980), Annie Walker (in 1983), Elsie Tanner (in 1984) and Albert Tatlock (also 1984). In 1983, antihero Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson), one of the show's central male characters since 1961, was killed off, and in 1984, Bernard Youens (Stan Ogden) died. While the press predicted the end of Corrie, H. V. Kershaw reminded viewers that "There are no stars in Coronation Street. Writers drew on the show's many archetypes, with previously established characters stepping into the roles left by the original cast. Phyllis Pearce (Jill Summers) was hailed as the new Ena Sharples in 1982, the Duckworths moved into No.9 in 1983 and slipped into the role once held by the Ogdens, while Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) appeared in 1983 and took over the grumpy war veteran role from Albert Tatlock. The question of who would take over the Rovers Return after Annie Walker's 1983 exit was answered in 1985 when Bet Lynch (who also mirrored the vulnerability and strength of Elsie Tanner) was installed as landlady. In 1983, Shirley Armitage became the first major black character in her role as machinist at Baldwin's Casuals.

Ken Barlow married Deirdre Langton on 27 July 1981. The episode was watched by over 24 million viewers - more ITV viewers than the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana two days later. The 1980s also saw the cementing of relationships between established characters: Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley) married Audrey Potter (Sue Nicholls) in 1985, Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) married Sally Seddon (Sally Whittaker) in 1986. Bet Lynch married Alec Gilroy in 1987 and the marriages of Ivy Tilsley and Don Brennan, and Derek Wilton and Mavis Riley took place in 1988.

The arrival of Channel 4 and its edgy new serial Brookside in 1982 was one of the biggest changes for Coronation Street, as well as the BBC's new prime time soap opera, EastEnders in 1985. While ratings for Coronation Street remained consistent throughout the decade, EastEnders regularly obtained higher viewing figures. With prime time competition, Corrie was again seen as being old fashioned, with the introduction of the 'normal' Clayton family in 1985 being failure with viewers. Between 1988 and 1989, many aspects of the show were modernised by new producer, David Liddiment. A new exterior set had been built in 1982 and in 1989 it was redeveloped to include new houses and shops. Production techniques were also changed, with a new studio being built and the inclusion of more location filming, which had moved from being shot on film to videotape in 1988. New pressures also saw introduction of the third weekly episode on 20 October 1989, broadcast each Friday at 19:30.

The 1980s featured some of the most prominent storylines in the programme's history, such as Deirdre Barlow's affair with Mike Baldwin in 1983, the first soap story line to receive widespread media attention. The feud between Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin would continue for many years, with Mike even marrying Ken's daughter, Susan. In 1986 there was a fire at the Rovers Return, and between 1986 and 1989, the story of Rita Fairclough's psychological abuse at the hands of Alan Bradley (Mark Eden), and his subsequent death under the wheels of a Blackpool tram, was played out. The show's highest rated episode (26.6 million viewers) came in 1987, when Hilda Ogden left the show. Other stories included: the birth of Nicky Tilsley in 1980, Elsie Tanner's departure and Stan Ogden's funeral in 1984, the birth of Sarah-Louise Tilsley in 1987, and Brian Tilsley's murder in 1989.

New characters were introduced, such as Kevin and Sally Webster, Curly Watts (Kevin Kennedy), Martin Platt (Sean Wilson), Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley) and the McDonald family.

1990s

In spite of updated sets and production changes, Coronation Street still received criticism. In 1992, chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council, Lord Rees-Mogg, criticised the low-representation of ethnic minorities and the programme's portrayal of the cosy familiarity of a bygone era. Some newspapers ran headlines such as 'Coronation Street shuts out blacks' (The Times) and 'Put colour in t'Street' (Daily Mirror). Patrick Stoddart of The Times wrote: "The millions who watch Coronation Street – and who will continue to do so despite Lord Rees-Mogg – know real life when they see it [...] in the most confident and accomplished soap opera television has ever seen". Black and Asian characters had appeared, but it wasn't until 1999 that show featured its first regular non-white family, the Desai family.

New characters Des and Steph Barnes moved into one of the new houses in 1990, being dubbed by the media as 'Yuppies'. Raquel Wolstenhulme (Sarah Lancashire) first appeared in 1991 and went on to become one of the most popular characters. The McDonald family were developed and the fiery relationships between Liz, Jim, Steve and Andy interested viewers. Other newcomers were Maud Grimes (Elizabeth Bradley), Roy Cropper (David Neilson), Judy and Gary Mallett, Fred Elliot (John Savident) and Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold). The amount of slapstick and physical humour in storylines increased during the 1990s, with comic characters such as Reg Holdsworth and his water bed.

Storylines in the early part of the decade included: the death of newborn Katie McDonald in 1992, Mike Baldwin's wedding to Alma Sedgewick (Amanda Barrie) in 1992, Tommy Duckworth being sold by his father Terry in 1993, Deirdre Barlow's marriage to Moroccan Samir Rachid, and the rise of Tanya Pooley (Eva Pope) between 1993 and 1994.

In 1997, Brian Park took over as producer, with the idea of promoting young characters as opposed to the older cast. On his first day he axed the characters of Derek Wilton, Don Brennan, Percy Sugden, Bill Webster, Billy Williams and Maureen Holdsworth. Thelma Barlow, who played Derek's wife Mavis, was angered by the sacking of her co-star and resigned,her character moving to Cartmel in Cumbria while the production team also lost some of its key writers when Barry Hill, Adele Rose and Julian Roach all resigned.

In line with Park's suggestion, younger characters were introduced: Nick Tilsley was recast, played by Adam Rickitt, single mother Zoe Tattersall first appeared, and the Battersbys moved into No.5. Storylines focussed on tackling 'issues', such as drug dealers, eco-warriors, religious cults and a transsexual. Park quit in 1998, after deciding that he had done what he intended to do; he maintained that his biggest achievement was the introduction of Hayley Patterson (Julie Hesmondhalgh), the first transsexual character in a British soap.

Viewers were alienated by the new-look Coronation Street, and the media voiced disapproval. Having received criticism of being too out of touch, Corrie now struggled to emulate the more modern Brookside and EastEnders. In the Daily Mirror, Victor Lewis-Smith wrote: "Apparently it doesn't matter that this is a first-class soap opera, superbly scripted and flawlessly performed by a seasoned repertory company."

One of Coronation Street's best known storylines took place in 1998, with Deirdre Rachid being wrongfully imprisoned after a relationship with con-man Jon Lindsay. 19 million viewers watched Deirdre being sent to prison, and 'Free the Weatherfield One' campaigns sprung up in a media frenzy. Prime Minister Tony Blair even passed comment on Deirdre’s sentencing in Parliament. Deirdre was freed after three weeks, with Granada stating that they had always intended for her to be released, in spite of the media interest.

2000s

On 8 December 2000, the show celebrated its fortieth year by broadcasting a live, hour-long, episode. The Prince of Wales made a cameo in the episode, appearing in a pre-recorded segment as himself in an ITV News bulletin report, presented by Trevor McDonald. Earlier in the year, 13-year old Sarah-Louise Platt (Tina O'Brien) had fallen pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Bethany, on 4 June. The episode where Gail was told of her daughter's pregnancy being watched by 15 million viewers. The year also saw the programme's first two-hander, between Curly and Raquel Watts.

From 1999-2001, Jane MacNaught was Coronation Street's executive producer, and received harsh criticism from both viewers and critics. In an attempt to compete with EastEnders, issue-led story lines were introduced such as Toyah Battersby's rape, Roy and Hayley Cropper abducting their foster child, Sarah Platt's Internet chat room abduction and Alma Halliwell's death of cervical cancer. Such storylines were unpopular with viewers and ratings dropped and in October 2001, Macnaught was abruptly moved to another Granada department and Carolyn Reynolds took over. Corrie continued to struggle in the ratings, with EastEnders introducing some of its strongest stories. In 2002, Kieran Roberts was appointed as producer and aimed to re-introduce "gentle story lines and humour", after deciding that the Street shouldn't try and compete with other soaps.

In 2002, one of Coronation Street's best-known storylines began, which culminated in 2003. Gail Platt married Richard Hillman (Brian Capron), a financial advisor, who would go on to leave Duggie Ferguson to die, murder his ex-wife Patricia, attempt to murder his mother-in-law, Audrey Roberts, murder Maxine Peacock and attempt to murder Emily Bishop. After confessing to the murder of Maxine and his ex-wife, Hillman attempted to kill Gail, her children Sarah and David, and her granddaughter Bethany, by driving them into a canal. The storyline received wide press attention, and viewing figures peaked at 19.4 million, with Hillman dubbed a "serial killer" by the media.

Todd Grimshaw began to question his sexuality in 2003, becoming Corrie's first regular homosexual character, after years of criticism about non-representation. The character of Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones) was developed, with her fiery marriage to Steve and warring with Tracy Barlow.

In 2004, Coronation Street retconned the Baldwin family when Mike's nephew Danny Baldwin and his wife Frankie moved to the area from Essex, with their two sons Jamie and Warren. Until this time, Mike Baldwin had been portrayed as an only child, with his father appearing in the programme between 1980 and 1982 confirming the fact.

During the decade, a range of other storylines featured, such as the bigamy of Peter Barlow, Maya Sharma's revenge on former lover Dev Alahan, Katy Harris murdering her father and subsequently committing suicide, Charlie Stubbs's psychological abuse of Shelley Unwin, and the deaths of Mike Baldwin and Fred Elliott. Two new families were also introduced into the show: The Connors and The Mortons, the latter being not as popular as the Connors when introduced, and being written out by the next year.

In 2007, several strange, groundbreaking storylines took place on Coronation Street, such as the show featuring its second two hander with Tracy Barlow confessing to Her mother Deidre Barlow she had planned to kill boyfriend Charlie Stubbs all along, Leanne Battersby becoming a prostitute and the first bi-sexual love triangle (between Michelle Connor, Sonny Dhillon, and Sean Tully). The Connor family were central to many storylines during 2007 - the accidental death of a Polish worker at Underworld due to overworking, Michelle's discovery that her brothers Paul and Liam were the cause of her husband's death, Paul's use of an escort service, his kidnapping of Leanne and his subsequent death. The Connor family continued to dominate storylines in 2008 with Michelle learning that Ryan was not her biological son, having been accidentally swapped at birth and her emotional struggle to accept her biological son Alex. When this story abruptly ended, Michelle's next began when she suspected boyfriend Steve McDonald had cheated on her. She had no idea his fling had been with Becky Granger, a supporting character who slowly rose to more prominent status. Michelle hired her to work at the Rovers, culminating in a slew of real-life publicity over Becky being their 50th barmaid. Michelle became an ever-more prominent part of the Street, with Kym Marsh receiving £100,000 for another year on the soap. Elsewhere, Carla began to develop feelings for brother in law Liam. In spite of knowing about her feelings, Liam married Maria Sutherland, but during an estrangement from Maria upon the death of their baby, Liam had a one night stand with Carla, a story which helped pave the way for his departure.

Many big names left in 2007. In January, Charlie Stubbs was killed by vengeful girlfriend Tracy Barlow. Tracy would go on to receive a life sentence in March 2007. Tina O'Brien revealed in the British press on 4 April 2007 that she would be leaving Coronation Street before the end of the year. Sarah-Louise, who was involved in some of the decade's most controversial stories, left town in December 2007. In summer 2007, 34-year veteran Liz Dawn told producers that she wanted to retire her character Vera Duckworth because her emphysema was restricting her acting and movement. Scriptwriters initially planned an exit for Vera in December 2007, with occasional guest appearances. However, after further discussion, writers, producer Steve Frost, and Liz Dawn agreed to kill off Vera in a tear-jerking story. In January 2008, whilst entering their house for many years singing a song, Jack discovered that Vera had quietly passed away in her armchair. Jack combed her hair and made her presentable, then sang one of their romantic sweetheart songs. In May 2008, Jack Duckworth, Tyrone Dobbs and Molly Compton agreed to get rid of the stone cladding on No 9, which Vera put there in 1989 to make the house stand out from the others, but learned the cladding had become embedded in the brick and would be nearly impossible to remove. As in life, Vera had had the last word. Molly and Tyrone began to be speculated on as "the new Jack and Vera", but both Vicky Binns and Alan Halsall disputed the idea.

Much of the decade was spent on the family dramas of Gail Platt. Sarah-Louise occupied much of her time for the first half of the decade. In the latter half of the decade, Gail's son David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) became increasingly unbalanced, with various plots and schemes culminating in a 2008 episode where he pushed her down the stairs in a fit of anger. Gail stood by him, in part due to her belief her mother Audrey had not been there for her as a child. Enraged that Gail refused to press charges, David smashed up the street and was sent to a young offenders' facility for several months. David returned from the facility on the 6 June, and afterwards seemed to be a somewhat reformed character. In May 2008, Gail finally met Ted Paige, the father she'd never known.

On August 6th 2008, character Jed Stone returned to the Street after 40 years.

Production

Broadcast format

Between 9 December 1960 and 3 March 1961, Coronation Street was broadcast twice weekly, on Wednesday and Friday. During this period, the Friday episode was broadcast live, with the Wednesday episode being pre-recorded 15 minutes earlier. When the programme went fully networked on 6 March 1961, broadcast days changed to Monday and Wednesday. The last regular episode to be shown live was broadcast on 3 February 1961.

Transmitted in black and white for the majority of the 1960s, preparations were made to film episode 923 (transmitted Wednesday October 29, 1969), which featured the street residents on a coach trip to the Lake District, in colour. In the event, suitable colour stock for the film cameras could not be found and the episode was made in black and white. The following episode, transmitted Monday November 3, was videotaped in colour but featured black and white film inserts and title sequence. Like BBC1, the ITV network was broadcast in black and white at this point so viewers noticed nothing unusual. The reasons why episodes were made in colour for monochrome transmission are not stated in any literature but it is possible that it was for the purposes of testing the look of sets and costumes using the new cameras. Certainly one set (that of the Rovers Return) underwent a subtle change of colours in November 1969 without any on-screen explanation.

Daran Little, for many years the official programme archivist, claims that the first episode to be transmitted in colour was episode 930 shown on Monday November 24, 1969 however the ITV network, like BBC1, began full colour transmissions on Saturday November 15, 1969 and it is therefore possible that the first transmitted colour episode is number 928 shown on Monday November 17. In October 1970 a long-simmering technician's dispute turned into a work-to-rule when sound staff were denied a pay rise given to camera staff the year before for working with colour recording equipment. The terms of the work to rule were that staff refused to work with the new equipment and therefore programmes had to be recorded and transmitted in black and white, including Coronation Street The dispute was resolved in early 1971 and the last black and white episode was broadcast on 8 February 1971.

Production staff

Coronation Street's creator, Tony Warren wrote the first 13 episodes of the programme in 1960, and continued to write for the programme intermittently until 1976. He still retains links with Coronation Street, often advising on storylines.

H V Kershaw (Harry Kershaw) was the script editor for Coronation Street when the programme began in 1960, working alongside Tony Warren. Kershaw was also a script writer for the programme and the show's producer between 1962 and 1971. He remains the only person, along with John Finch, to have held the three posts of script editor, writer and producer. Kershaw continued to write for the programme until his retirement in January 1988.

Adele Rose was the longest-serving Coronation Street writer, completing 455 scripts between 1961 and 1998. She went on to create Byker Grove.

Bill Podmore was the show's longest serving producer. By the time he stepped down in 1988 he had completed 13 years at the production helm. Nicknamed the "godfather" by the tabloid press, he was renowned for his tough, uncompromising style and was feared by both crew and cast alike. He is probably most famous for sacking Peter Adamson, the show's Len Fairclough, in 1983.

Michael Apted, best known for the Up! series of documentaries was a director on the programme in the early 1960s. This period of his career marked the first of his many collaborations with writer Jack Rosenthal. Rosenthal, noted for such television plays as Bar Mitzvah Boy, began his career on the show, writing over 150 episodes between 1961 and 1969. Paul Abbott was a story editor on the programme in the 1980s and began writing episodes in 1989, but left in 1993 to produce Cracker, for which he later wrote, before creating his own highly-acclaimed dramas such as Touching Evil and Shameless. Russell T Davies was briefly a storyliner on the programme in the mid-1990s, also writing the script for the direct-to-video special "Viva Las Vegas! He, too, has become a noted writer of his own high-profile television drama programmes, including Queer as Folk and the 2005 revival of Doctor Who. Jimmy McGovern also wrote some episodes. The current Executive Producer is Kieran Roberts who was once a Producer of "Emmerdale" and the Producer is now Kim Crowther who took over from Steve Frost in February 2008

Theme music

The show's theme music, a cornet piece, accompanied by a brass band plus clarinet and double bass, reminiscent of northern band music, was written by Eric Spear and has been only slightly modified since its debut.

David Browning played the trumpet on the original recording of the theme, and was given the choice of either a royalty payment for each time the theme was broadcast, or a one-off payment at the time of recording. He opted for the one-off payment, and although he would have received more money in the long run with the royalty payment approach, this is something he has been able to laugh about in more recent years.

The theme music was also performed on television by the TV entertainer Roy Castle.

Sets

As befitting the soap-opera genre, Coronation Street is made up of individual housing units, plus communal areas: a newsagents (The Kabin), a cafe (Roy's Rolls), a general grocery shop (D&S Alahan's), a factory (Underworld) and a public house, the Rovers Return Inn, which is the main meeting place for characters on the programme.

From 1960–1968, all interactions on the 'outside' street were filmed on a sound stage, with the houses reduced in scale by 3/4 and constructed from wood. In 1968, Granada built an outside set which was not all that different from the interior version previously used, with the wooden façades from the studio simply being erected on the new site initially. These were replaced with brick façades, and back yards were added in the 1970s.

In 1982, a full-size exterior street was built in the Granada backlot, constructed from reclaimed Salford brick. The sets still don't match the exterior exactly, for example, the interior of the Battersby house (No. 5) is quite spacious, but the size of the corner shop is much smaller, yet each dwelling is the same size from the outside. The extension on the back of No. 9 (Jack and Vera's old house) looks small, yet the interior (the new kitchen) is much bigger. The set was updated in 1989, with the construction of a new factory, two shop units and three modern semi-detached houses on the south side of Coronation Street.

Between 1989 and 1999, the Granada Studios Tour allowed members of the public the opportunity to visit the set. The exterior set was extended and updated in 1999, to include more of Rosamund Street, Victoria Street and a new viaduct on Rosamund Street. The majority of interior scenes are shot in the adjoining purpose-built studio.

In 2008, Victoria Court, an apartment building full of luxury flats, was started on Victoria Street.

The Granada backlot is situated in an area between Quay Street and Liverpool Road in Manchester..

Popularity

The programme is now one of the highest rated television programmes on British television, and is the highest rated soap opera on British television. On average, a single Coronation Street episode attracts 8.5-11.5 million viewers. It is at the top of ITV's prime time schedule.

  • On 1 February 2000 Coronation Street attracted 15.7 million viewers when 13 year old Sarah Platt found out she was five months pregnant, with her mother Gail present.
  • On 14 March 2003 Coronation Street attracted 19.4 million viewers when serial killer Richard Hillman died, when he drove his car into a canal in an attempt to kill the entire Platt family.
  • On 16 April 2004 16.33 million viewers tuned in to see Tracy Barlow sabotaging the second wedding of Steve and Karen McDonald with the revelation that Steve was the father of Tracy's daughter Amy.
  • On 7 April 2006 12.34 million viewers watched long running character Mike Baldwin die in the arms of his arch rival Ken Barlow.
  • On 2 April 2007 Coronation Street attracted 12.7 million viewers when the verdict of Tracy Barlow's court trial for murdering her lover Charlie Stubbs was announced.
  • On Christmas Day 2007 9.91 million viewers watched the affair between Rosie Webster and her school teacher John Stape be exposed. This came out as the most watched ITV programme of the day, and the second most watched soap opera of that day, behind EastEnders which was watched by 14.34 million viewers.
  • On 18 January 2008 12.5 million viewers watched to see the death of long serving character Vera Duckworth
  • On 31 March 2008 10.2 million viewers watched Paul Clayton burn down Leanne Battersby's restaurant Valandros in an insurance scam. This was the second most watched programme of the day, and came just behind EastEnders, which attracted 10.4 million viewers.

Scheduling

United Kingdom

For 48 years, Coronation Street has remained at the centre of ITV's prime time schedule. The programme is currently shown in five episodes, over three evenings a week on the ITV Network.

From Friday 9 December 1960 until Friday 3 March 1961, the programme was shown in two episodes broadcast Wednesday and Friday at 19.00. Schedules were changed and from Monday 6 March 1961 until Wednesday 18 October 1989, the programme was shown in two episodes broadcast Monday and Wednesday at 19.30. The third weekly episode was introduced on Friday 20 October 1989, broadcast at 19.30. From 1996, an extra episode was broadcast at 19.30 on Sunday nights.

Aside from Granada, the programme originally appeared on the following stations of the ITV network:

From Episode 14 on Wednesday January 25, 1961, Tyne Tees Television broadcast the programme. That left ATV in the Midlands as the only ITV station not carrying the show. When they decided to broadcast the programme, national transmission was changed from Wednesday and Friday at 19.00 to Monday and Wednesday at 19.30 and the programme became fully networked under this new arrangement from Episode 25 on Monday March 6, 1961.

As the ITV network grew over the next few years, the programme was transmitted by these new stations on these dates onward:

At this point, the ITV network became complete and the programme was broadcast almost continuously across the country at 19.30 on Monday and Wednesday for the next twenty-seven years.

From Episode 2981 on Friday October 20, 1989 at 19:30, a third weekly episode was introduced and this increased to four episodes a week from Episode 4096 on Sunday November 24, 1996, again at 19:30. The second Monday episode was introduced in 2002 and was broadcast at 20:30 to usher in the return of Bet Lynch. The Monday 20:30 episode was used intermittently during the popular Richard Hillman story line but has become fully-scheduled since Episode 5568 on Monday August 25, 2003. Additional episodes have been broadcast during the weekly schedule of ITV at certain times, notably in 2004 when, between 22 November and 26 November, eight episodes were shown.

Older episodes had been broadcast by satellite and cable channel Granada Plus from launch in 1996. The first episodes shown were from episode 1588 (Originally transmitted on Monday April 5, 1976) onwards. Originally listed and promoted as Classic Coronation Street, the "classic" was dropped in early 2002, at which stage the episodes were from late 1989. By the time of the channel's closure in 2004, the repeats had reached January 1994.

In addition to this, "specials" were broadcast on Saturday afternoons in the early years of the channel with several episodes based around a particular theme or character(s) were shown. The latest episode shown in these specials was from 1991. In addition, on 27 & 28 December 2003, several Christmas Day editions of the show were broadcast.

In early 2008 ITV announced that during 2008 the Sunday episode would be dropped and replaced on Fridays, thus having two half hour episodes on both Monday and Friday (at 19:30 and 20:30) and maintaining a single episode on Wednesdays (at 19:30). However there is also discussion about creating an hour-long episode on Monday instead of two separate episodes. This seems unlikely because it would conflict with rival soap Eastenders. An episode has been shown on a Sunday twice since then, but this was due to the football scheduling.

Overseas

Coronation Street is also shown in many countries worldwide.

In the Republic of Ireland it is broadcast on TV3 according to the ITV schedule in the UK.

Viewers in Northern Ireland can watch Coronation Street on UTV (a regional company of ITV) and TV3, because the domestic population of Northern Ireland have access to view both the British Channels (BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Five) and Irish Channels (RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3 and TG4). Northern Irish viewers can see the soap opera on at the same time by tuning between UTV and TV3. Coronation Street is broadcast on TV3 approximately 2 minutes behind of its broadcast on UTV.

In Canada, episodes of Coronation Street are shown on CBC Television. As of 2008, episodes appear on CBC about nine-and-a-half months after their UK broadcast date. It moved from a daytime slot on CBC to prime time in 2004. CBC Country Canada, a digital television service operated by CBC, broadcasts older episodes as Corrie Classics. The 2002 edition of the Guinness Book of Records recognises the 1,144 episodes sold to CBC-owned Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, TV station CBKST by Granada TV on 31 May, 1971 to be the largest number of TV shows ever purchased in one transaction.

The programme started to be shown in Australia in 1963 on TCN 9 Sydney, GTV 9 Melbourne and NWS 9 Adelaide, and by 1966 Corrie was more popular in Australia than in the UK. The show eventually left free-to-air television in Australia in the early 1980s, briefly returning to the Nine Network in a daytime slot during 1994-95. In 1996 Pay-TV began and Arena began screening the series in one-hour installments on Saturday and Sundays at 18:30. The series was later moved to Pay-TV channel UK.TV where it is still shown weeknights at 18:00. Episodes on UK.TV are 15 months behind the UK.

The series is also currently shown in New Zealand, on Television New Zealand's TV One. In New Zealand, where "Coro" is one of the commoner abbreviations, the show consistently rates in the top ten programmes nationally. Hour-long episodes are shown at 19:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. "Coro Street catchups" are often scheduled on Wednesdays over summer to prevent falling further behind. Currently, an omnibus episode screens every Saturday afternoon, a replay screening of the previous week's episodes. Episodes are around fourteen months behind those broadcast in the UK. In early October 2008, TV One announced that it would be screening on Fridays too. Dutch broadcaster VARA showed 428 sub-titled episodes on Netherlands TV between 1967 and 1975.

In 2006, the small network Vitaya started broadcasting Coronation Street for viewers in Belgium, with episodes broadcast roughly two years behind the UK. In the U.A.E., episodes of Coronation Street are broadcast two months after their UK showing.

Merchandise

Several classic episodes were released on VHS video in the 1980s and 1990s in different sets, while a number of specially recorded feature-length episodes were released exclusively to video (see Coronation Street VHS and DVD releases).

The Street, a magazine dedicated to the show, was launched in 1989. Edited by Bill Hill, the magazine contained a summary of recent storylines, interviews, articles about classic episodes, and stories that occurred from before 1960. The format was initially A5 size, expanding to A4 from the seventh issue. The magazine folded after issue 23 in 1993 when the publisher's contract with Granada Studios Tour expired and Granada wanted to produce their very own magazine.

Spin-offs

Granada launched one spin-off in 1965, Pardon the Expression, following the story of clothing store manager Leonard Swindley (Arthur Lowe) after he left Weatherfield. Swindley's management experience was tested when he was appointed assistant manager at a fictional department store, Dobson and Hawks. Granada produced two series of the spin-off, which ended in 1966.

In 1968, Arthur Lowe returned as Leonard Swindley in Turn Out The Lights, a sequel to Pardon the Expression. It ran for just six episodes before it was cancelled.

In 1999, six special episodes of Coronation Street were produced, following the story of Steve McDonald, Vicky McDonald, Vikram Desai, Bet Gilroy and Reg Holdsworth in Brighton. This spin-off was subtitled The Rover Returns and released on VHS tape.

In 2008, ITV announced filming is to get underway for a new special DVD episode set in Africa following the Battersby - Brown family, which will include the temporary return of Coronation Street's mother from hell Cilla Battersby-Brown.

Sponsorship

Cadburys was the first sponsor of Coronation Street beginning in July 1996. In the Summer of 2006 Cadbury Trebor Bassetts had to recall over 1 million chocolate bars, due to suspected salmonella contamination, and Coronation Street stopped the sponsorship for several months. In late 2006 Cadbury did not renew their contract, but agreed to sponsor the show until Coronation Street found a new sponsor. On 16 September 2007, the Cadbury sponsor adverts were broadcast for the last time.

In July 2007 an ITV press release announced that Harveys (a furniture superstore) was the new sponsor of Coronation Street on the ITV Network. Harveys' sponsorship began on 30 September 2007.

Awards

The show has won four British Soap Awards for 'Best Soap', four National Televison Award for 'Most Popular Serial Drama', and four TV Quick and Choice Awards for 'Best Soap'. In September 2007 Coronation Street took the title for 'Best Soap' at the Inside Soap Awards,an award it failed to win at the 2008 Inside Soap Awards.Eastenders won the award for the 11th time.

There was widespread media controversy when the soap was snubbed by BAFTA in the 2008 awards, failing to receive any nominations.

Producers

The first producer was Stuart Latham, from December 1960 to July 1961. In the 1960s and 1970s, most producers did stints of about one year. Longer-running producers included Eric Prytherch (May 1972 - April 1974); Bill Podmore (September 1977 - July 1982); Carolyn Reynolds (1991-1993); and Sue Pritchard (1993-1996). Since 2008, the soap has been produced by Kim Crowther. For more information, see the List of Coronation Street producers.

Footnotes

Print references

  • Collier, Katherine (2003 and updated 2008 by Glenda Young). Coronation Street: The Epic Novel. London: Carlton.
  • Hanson, David; Jo Kingston (1999). Coronation St.: Access All Areas. London: Andre Deutsch.
  • Kershaw, H. V. (1981). The Street Where I Live. London: Granada.
  • Little, Daran (1995). The Coronation Street Story. London: Boxtree.
  • Little, Daran (1998). The Women of Coronation Street. London: Boxtree.
  • Little, Daran (2000). 40 Years of Coronation Street. London: Andre Deutsch.
  • Little, Daran (2002). Who's Who on Coronation Street. London: Andre Deutsch.
  • Podmore, Bill; Peter Reece (1990). Coronation Street: The Inside Story. London: Macdonald.
  • Tinker, Jack (1987). Coronation Street: A fully-illustrated record of television's most popular serial. Treasure Press.

External links

Video and DVD references

  • This Is Coronation Street. Dir. John Black. DVD. Acorn Media Publishing, 2003.
  • Coronation Street: Secrets. Dir. John Black. DVD. Morningstar Entertainment, 2004.
  • Coronation Street: Early Days. Video. Granada Media Group, 2001.

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