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TV is a fickle business and never more so than in one of its dramatic
mainstays - the humble soap.
Getting the balance between comedy and drama can be a tricky affair, not to mention having (and keeping) a cast of likeable characters who make you want to tune in for more week after week.
While Eldorado and Albion Market failed to capture the imagination of the nation, there are others that manage to shrug off the birth pangs, cope with a difficult adolesence and settle down while seizing the heart of the nation.
In case you didn't know it, Corrie is 40 this year and as one of the world's longest running soaps it has earned its place in the record books.
It began not with a bang but with a whimper.
The opening scenes are still etched in the mind of creator Tony Warren, who developed the show while still a mere slip of a lad. Mrs Lappin slipped a coin into a bubblegum machine outside her corner shop, and Ena Sharples, scowling like a bulldog beneath THAT hairnet, demanded: "Are those fancies today's? I'll take half a dozen - and no eclairs. NO eclairs."
Lest we forget, the show gave rise to some of the best actors and writers in the business, including Joanna Lumley, Ben Kingsley and The Royle Family's much loved mate, Twiggy (Geoffrey Hughes).
Scriptwriters like Jack Rosenthal (Yentl, London's Burning) and Frank Cottrell Boyce (Jude, Hillary and Jackie) gave us dialogue and scenes that went above and beyond the realms of most shows while it enlivened many a dull night's TV by its very presence alone.
Over the years, we have relished the clashes between Ena (Violet Carson) and Elsie (Pat Phoenix), thrown soft furnishings at the TV while dithery Derek (Peter Baldwin) and Mavis (Thelma Barlow) tested the patience of saints and wept buckets as Judy Mallett (Gaynor Faye), Des Barnes (Phil Middlemiss) and most of Ken Barlow's (William Roache) wives became another statistic in the suspiciously high list of Weatherfield residents who met their maker far too early.
This year has been as unmissable as any in its four decade history with the Tony Horrocks murder and the 'Martn' (Sean Wilson) and Rebecca (Jill Halfpenny) affair coming to a head, not to mention Jez (the excellent Lee Boardman) and Alison (Naomi Radcliffe) reaching a sticky end as polar opposite characters both cut short by some brutal scripting.
The Street has become so ingrained in people's hearts that, over the years, many have lost sight of that thin line between fact and fiction.
When Elsie Tanner was lying unidentified in a London hospital after being knocked down by a taxi, viewers wrote to her husband to tell him where she was.
Dozens of women took up their knitting needles to make dustman Eddie Yates a new woolly hat when his own was shredded in the washing machine, and when Ena lost her post as secretary of the Glad Tidings mission, the job offers flooded in.
People have even tried to book Christmas parties at the Rovers Return and rent the houses which become vacant in Britain's most celebrated terraced street. Former producer Bill Podmore once said: 'All over the country, old terraces like Coronation Street are disappearing, but a change in the Street could destroy the roots of the programme, because the architecture is as much a part of its character as the people.'
But it was regular script writer Harry Kershaw who summed up it's enduring popularity and extraordinary success both at home and abroad. 'Coronation Street is about life,' he said, 'and life has its universal situations, its problems and laughter; therefore it has an international appeal.'
We have laughed, cried and run screaming by the sight of hamster-faced Gail (Helen Worth) and the haircut from Hell, poodle-haired Liz (Beverley Callard) dressing like a woman half her age and Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) working his way through the Street's female residents. How long can all this go on?
Well, as long as Granada keep hiring some of the best cast and crew in the business while putting a fresh spin on age old stories of love, lust, infidelity and, in Fred Elliott's case, fine meat products, let's hope it never ends.
I was four years old when i first viewed Coronation Street (the episode
being Stan and Hilda's second honeymoon in 1977) and immediately (even
at such a young age) I hoped that this show would run forever (and by
the looks of it, it will!). Im 33 now and during the past nearly 3
decades I have witnessed many changes to the soap. characters have gone
(Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner and Hilda and Stan Ogden to name but few)
but despite many more adult story lines one key thing remains the same
and thats that essentially this is a programme about a huge nucleus of
people living in the same community dealing with their own problems and
being there for each other (a good example of this is the relationship
between the Barlow's and Emily Bishop who is always there for them).
Sure it shows the negative side of life as there have been many baddies walk the weatherfield cobbles (Alan Bradley, Charlie Stubbs and of course Richard Hillman amongst others) but mixed with that is plenty of humour like when Jack (Vera's husband) tried dating several years ago only for Vera's to find out of bet lynch and use her handbag to clobber him out of the rovers return.
The rovers return is the focal point of the programme. Everybody meets here and it is here that some of Corrie's finest acting moments have took place. There have been many fights in the rovers but the best ones have to be the fights between Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin. Mike had an affair with Ken's wife Deidrie in 1983 and right up to Mikes death last year Ken never really forgave him. Story lines like this are what keeps Corrie firmly stuck in reality and may it be part of our reality for many years to come. God bless Corrie.
My mother was Scottish and my dad was British, so I was raised on
watching Coronation Street. For the last 35 years (at least) not a week
has gone by with catching up at the Rover's return. Unfortunately, here
in Canada we seem to be quite behind the times, we are at the stage
where Peter is revealed as a bigamist, Martin admits to the affair with
Katie etc...etc... But I will continue to watch C.S.loyally. I'm
addicted, and so is my wife of 10 years. She wasn't to fussy at the
beginning but after watching now, it would be instant death if I didn't
get her up at 8 a.m. for our 2 hour Sunday constitutional.
Our next trip to England we hope maybe for a tour of the set. It would be the icing on the cake, if I could surprise her with this holiday treat. Thanks for allowing me this moment to reflect on the great time we've had watching and will continue to watch our favorite show
If you want to see British TV at it's best then look no further, This is a high class soap opera which has won many awards, The performances in this show sometimes outshine those that have won Oscars. The premise of the series is the following of lives in an old terraced street in Manchester. Each resident is different, it would be boring if they were. The Street is famous for it's comic humour, in the midst of a dramatic scene you are always guaranteed a laugh. It is a must see programme. It is the top rated programme in the UK.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Firstly for the benefit of readers outside of Britain, although
Coronation St has a cult following in Canada, Coronation St( often
shortened to Corrie by its fans) is the longest running soap in Britain
based on a fictional street in Manchester, which in its heyday in the
late seventies had 17 million viewers. 8 million still watch now, but
the overkill with episodes, spin off shows and omnibuses has wrecked to
me what was once a great Northern institution with believable and
Now I know dear old Corrie's fans hate criticism of their beloved soap, but the soap should have gone in the mid eighties when well loved characters like the Ogdens, Annie Walker and Albert Tatlock were written out and the soap's ratings took a dip. Instead it has lurched on, with now five episodes a week and omnibuses on ITV2, and become as miserable and far fetched Eastenders. Having watched part of an episode recently, I have never seen such cheap sets, hammy acting and an air of gloom and doom in my life, except maybe in Cell Block H. How 8 million people sit through this every week beats me as a once charming, entertaining show has become just like every other soap, depressing and boring. I really do think television would be better off without this show and other charmless soaps like Eastenders and Holby City.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My 10/10 rating is for the sterling work that Jean Alexander and
Bernard Youens put into 'Coronation Street'. For two decades, they
played to perfection the warring Ogdens. So good were they in these
roles that many became convinced they really existed. When Stan got
into debt, for example, offers of financial help flooded into the
Granada offices. You may think that amusing, but it shows how much the
public took the Ogdens to heart.
The Ogdens were Stan, an obese layabout who cleaned windows for a living ( when he was not feeding his face with bacon sandwiches or swilling pints of Newton & Ridley's ), and Hilda, a head-scarved harridan with a fondness for gossip, not to say singing out of tune. They lived in less than opulent surroundings. Who can forget those plaster ducks on the 'muriel' ( mural )?
In spite of their constant quarrelling, there was genuine affection between the couple. They brought humour, warmth and pathos to the show.
To celebrate the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Street's residents decided to ride around on a lorry dressed as characters from British history - Annie Walker as Queen Elisabeth 1, Len Fairclough as Sir Francis Drake, and Ena Sharples as Queen Victoria, and so on. Only Stan would be so stupid as to leave the lorry's lights on all night, hence the next morning the battery was dead!
In one lovely episode, the Ogdens won a weekend at a luxury hotel, and to see them living the high life was an absolute joy. The deflated look on Hilda's face as they returned home spoke volumes about the sort of humdrum lives they led.
The Ogdens helped make 'Coronation Street' ( I refuse to refer to it as 'Corrie' ) one of the best programmes of the '60's and '70's. Youens died on 27/8/84. Of course Stan had to die too. It presented the writers with a problem as Albert Tatlock had recently been written out because of the sad demise of Jack Howarth. Not wishing to kill Stan off so soon after, they pretended he was still alive but confined to bed. Several weeks later, Hilda discovered his lifeless body. An icon of 'Coronation Street' was no more.
I do not watch 'Coronation Street' these days. It is a different programme now, aimed at a much younger audience. I doubt whether Stan and Hilda would feel at home in the Street these days. As Granada Plus's repeats showed, the Ogdens were simply irreplaceable.
Coronation Street is now nearing its 50th birthday and even today it
remains one of Britain's most popular series. The reason for its
continuous popularity is very simple. It has good story lines, humor
and wit, drama and tension, colorful characters, excellent lightning
and direction, simple locations and it evokes the majority's emotions
on a weekly basis.
These things are very simple and most soap operas incorporate them but Coronation Street has the upper hand continuously because they juggle all them in every episode and there is never central focus on any particular theme it is all dealt with equality of division.
The star of the show is not the actors or the story lines but the characters. When people tune in they do not do so to watch Bruce Jones who plays Les Battersby but they do so to watch Les Battersby. Les Battersby and the other characters have become as real as the actors that are playing them and in most cases more famous. The characters are wonderfully written and in most cases portrayed by very talented individuals who seldom over act but are willing. They successfully cover a wide spectrum of human emotions and their acting ability should be honored considering that being an actor on Coronation Street could sometimes mean story lines that require 24:7 attendances on the set.
The story lines are very good also and they always have two to three separate story lines going at all times. But there will always be a major theme covered over a pro-longed period. At the moment they are dealing with Post-Natal Depression a topic that has been touched upon before in many soaps but not as vividly as it has been done in Coronation Street. Not only is it a hooking storyline but also it is very educational on it can manifest itself in different people and the adverse effect it can have on the families and friends that are involved.
Coronation Street has consistently been the publics favorite for many years because of it's down to earth approach to characters and story lines but it only loses out to other soaps because it has a reluctance to over do it with crime or natural disaster stories. It does from time to time have larger than life story lines consisting of serial killers or murders but these are few and far between. Unfortunately it's attempts to keep with up with rival soaps means that it is transmitted four times a week also means that this provides me with my only fault and this is viewers can be over exposed to heavy story lines and this can be quite daunting even for the most hardcore fan. Other than this I would say you could do a lot worse.
Corrie really is the nations soap and is so ingrained in our minds that
everyone probably has a favourite character, moment of line.
Yes, it's probably on too many days of the week and the plots at times verge of ridiculous but what I love about Corrie is that of all the soaps it maintains that balance between humour and drama and that is what makes it so endearing.
While Eastenders may win more awards I think Corrie is loved more by the public and that is why the characters remain in our hearts so long after they have left.
With another good live episode out of the way recently the only way for Corrie seems to be up.
I have watched this, irregularly for the first ten years , but for the
last 30 years have rarely missed an episode. It is part of Tuesdays &
Thursdays. I usually have a crossword or sudoku at the same time, but
it is something to look forward to. Nobody phones at that time.
I admit that Coronation Street does vary in quality from time to time. There are far more unlikeable characters now - Charlie, Tracy, Cilla and David for example, & some of the story lines drag on and on, but there are so many moments of brilliant dialogue, such as Rita's put downs of Norris, and some of the discussion between Kirk & the lovely Fizz. We are a year behind in New Zealand but it doesn't seem to matter if you read of what's happening in English magazines or the Internet. Here's to another 30 years!
I like Coronation street I have watched it since I was five back in 1979 and really like it, and its been going nearly 50 years its a shame they never get best soap anymore.. as its the longest running soap, and they seem to get knocked out of the running in the national TV awards, its about time they changed that as eastenders who have not been going near as long seem to win every time.. so it would be nice for coronation street to be best, soap or longest running to win for a change..the soap has had good story lines in the past and present and they put some humour into it as well not like some other soaps I could mention, and do not keep brining back more and more old characters as well..
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