Street, the longest running and most successful British soap
opera, was first transmitted on ITV on Friday 9 December 1960. Made
by Granada Television, the Manchester based commercial company,
the Street, as it is affectionately known, has been at the
top of the U.K. ratings for over thirty years.
programme is perhaps best known for its realistic depiction of everyday
working-class life in a Northern community. Set in a fictional area
of Weatherfield in a working class region of north-west England,
it grew out of the so-called "kitchen sink" drama style popularized
in the late 1950s. The series, originally called Florizel Street
by its creator Tony Warren, began as a limited thirteen episodes,
but its cast of strong characters, its northern roots and sense
of community immediately created a loyal following. These factors
combined with skillfully written and often amusing scripts have
ensured its continued success.
its opening titles with scenes of terraced houses there is a strong
sense of regional and local identity which is echoed in the language
of its characters. Set in a domestic existence of various homes,
the pubs, the shops which are all set out to be part of everyday
life, Coronation Street is imbued with a definite feeling
of community. Through its account of supposedly everyday life, the
programme shows a high degree of social realism. A close parallel
is made between the fictional world of Weatherfield and the everyday
world inhabited by its audience, whose loyalty is encouraged by
the sense of close community, the predictability of plot and the
regular transmission times.
storylines of Coronation Street tend to concentrate on relationships
within and between families rather than on topical or social issues
as is the case with the newer soaps such as Brookside and
EastEnders. Critics might argue that the celebration of a
mutually supportive community has more than a touch of nostalgia
whilst its fans would argue that the programme reflects shifts in
social attitudes in Britain.
Early episodes were recorded live without editing, requiring a high
standard of performance. This theatrical style of production has
influenced the character of the programme resulting in a reliance
on good writing and ensemble performance. For many years Coronation
Street was produced on a studio set and shot on multi-camera
with few exterior film inserts. The advent of the social realism
soaps and introduction of light-weight video cameras have resulted
in a dramatic increase in the number of exterior scenes. The Street
itself has been expanded to incorporate such filming with a specially
constructed exterior set although interior filming is still multi-camera.
Street, in common with other soaps, has always been noted
for its independent and assertive women characters such as Ena Sharples,
Elsie Tanner, Annie Walker and more recently Bet Lynch and Rita
Fairclough. Even a more downtrodden character such as Hilda Ogden
produced a huge amount of affection from the programme's audience.
In contrast the men often seem weak by comparison. The viewer of
Coronation Street is often encouraged to make a moral judgement
on the behaviour of a particular character and it is generally the
stronger women characters who set the tone. Tony Warren summed up
the programme as "A fascinating freemasonry, a volume of unwritten
rules....Coronation Street sets out to explore these values
and in doing so, to entertain."
two characters have remained in the programme since its launch--Ken
Barlow played by William Roache and Emily Bishop, nee Nugent, played
by Eileen Derbyshire. However the programme has been the ground
for many actors who have gone on to greater fame such as Davy Jones
(later of The Monkees), Joanna Lumley and Ben Kingsley. The Street
has also nurtured many novice writers such as Jack Rosenthal and
Jimmy McGovern while the award-winning feature film director Michael
Apted has also been part of the production team.
deaths and departures in recent years of several well-established
characters combined with the introduction of EastEnders, Brookside
and the Australian soaps has resulted in a shift towards the lives
of its younger characters.
success of Coronation Street has resulted in a series of
merchandising and promotional ventures by Granada, many of them
focused around the soap's local pub and centre of gossip, The Rover's
Return. By providing a secure economic base through high ratings,
Coronation Street has enabled Granada to build a wide range
of programmes. Because of the long-standing cultural ties and familiarity
with the world it evokes Coronation Street has also built
up a sizable audience in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
1989 the Street went from two to three episodes a week and
in the autumn of 1996 this will be increased to four. Granada are
confident that a more pressurised production line will not affect
Coronation Street's reputation for quality writing. Instead
it is planned to develop secondary characters more strongly. Coronation
Street recently celebrated its 35th anniversary and tops the
ratings with an average audience of 16 million. Its longevity and
success are testament to the firm place it holds in the hearts of
the British public.
Ena Sharples....................................... Violet Carson
Elsie Tanner Patricia Phoenix Annie Walker Doris Speed Tracy Barlow
Dawn Acton Florrie Lindley Betty Alberge Hilda Ogden Jean Alexander
Bill Webster Peter Armitage Derek Wilton Peter Baldwin Janet Reid/Barlow
Judith Barker Mavis Riley/Wilton Thelma Barlow Alec Gilroy Roy Barraclough
Alma Sedgwick/Baldwin Amanda Barrie Harry Hewitt Ivan Beavis Denise
Osbourne Denise Black Tricia Armstrong Tracy Brabin Maud Grimes
Elizabeth Bradley Mike Baldwin Johnny Briggs Alan Howerd Alan Browning
Minnie Caldwell Margot Bryant Liz McDonald Beverly Callard Martha
Longhurst Lynne Carol Andy McDonald Nicholas Cochrane Rosie Webster
Emma Collinge Linda Cheveski Anne Cunningham Vera Duckworth Elizabeth
Dawn Emily Nugent/Bishop Eileen Derbyshire Debbie Webster Sue Devaney
Betty Turpin/Williams Betty Driver Ida Barlow Noel Dyson Alan Bradley
Mark Eden Judy Mallet Gaynor Faye Angela Diane Fletcher Jamie Armstrong
Joseph Gilgun Bet Lynch/Gilroy Julie Goodyear Irma Ogden/Barlow
Sandra Gough Steve McDonald Simon Gregson Fiona Middleton Angela
Griffin Josie Clarke Ellie Haddington Ernest Bishop Stephen Hancock
Christine Hardman Christine Hargreaves Daniel Osbourne Lewis Harney
May Hardman Joan Heath Norris Malcolm Hebden Sean Skinner Terence
Hillyer Renee Bradshaw/Roberts Madge Hindle Don Brennan Geoffrey
Hinsliff Tina Fowler Michelle Holmes Albert Tatlock Jack Howarth
Eddie Yates Geoffrey Hughes Nicky Platt/Tisley Warren Jackson Eunice
Nuttall/Gee Meg Johnson Tricia Hopkins Kathy Jones Curly Watts Kevin
Kennedy Concepta Hewitt Doreen Keogh Sarah-Louise Platt Lynsay King
Deirdre Hunt/Barlow/Rachid Anne Kirkbridge Rita Littlewood/Fairclough/Sullivan
Barbara Knox Raquel Wolstenhulme/Watts Sarah Lancashire Jim McDonald
Charles Lawson Kevin Webster Michael Le Vell Jack Walker Arthur
Leslie Nick Wilding Mark Lindley Leonard Swindley Arthur Lowe Dennis
Tanner Philip Lowrie Elaine Perkins Joanna Lumley Jenny Bradley
Sally Ann Matthews Gary Mallet Ian Mercer Des Barnes Philip Middlesmiss
Sophie Webster Ashleigh Middleton Billy Williams Frank Mills (II)
Reg Holdsworth Ken Morley Alf Roberts Bryan Mosley Lucille Hewitt
Jennifer Moss Suzie Birchall Cheryl Murray Roy Cropper David Neilson
Vicky McDonald Chloe Newsome Audrey Potter/Roberts Sue Nicholls
David Platt Thomas Ormson Ester Hayes Daphne Oxenford Frank Barlow
Frank Pemberton Ivy Tilsley/Brennan Lynne Perrie Terry Duckworth
Nigel Pivaro Tanya Pooley Eve Pope Brian Tilsley Chris Quentin Ken
Barlow William Roache David Barlow Alan Rothwell Alison Dunkley
Maggie Saunders Fred Eliott John Savident Maxine Heavey Tracy Shaw
Anne Malone Eve Steele Phyliss Pearce Jill Summers Jack Duckworth
William Tarmey Percy Sugden Bill Waddington Ivan Cheveski Ernst
Walder Tony Horrocks Lee Warburton Sally Webster Sally Whittaker
Martin Platt Sean Wilson Gail Potter/Tilsley/Platt Helen Worth Stan
Ogden Bernard Youens Brian Dunkley Benny Young
Stuart Latham, Derek Granger, Tim Aspinall, Harry Kershaw, Peter
Eckersley, Jack Rosenthal, Michael Cox, Richard Doubleday, John
Finch, June Howson, Leslie Duxbury, Brian Armstrong, Eric Prytherch,
Susi Hush, Bill Podmore, Pauline Shaw, Mervyn Watson, John G. Temple,
Carolyn Reynolds, H.V. Kershaw, Richard Everitt, David Liddiment
Dyer, Richard, et al. Coronation Street. London: British
Film Institute, 1981.
Christine. Women and Soap Opera: A Study of Prime-Time Soaps.
Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991.
Richard. Television Soaps. London: Batsford, 1992.
Graham, editor. Coronation Street: 25 Years (1960-1985).
London: Ward Lock, Ltd. in association with Granada Television.
also Soap Opera