On Friday 8th April 2005, seventeen million viewers watched episode 5,998 in which Ken Barlow remarried ex-wife Deirdre Rachid. This was four million more than had watched the real-life Royal Wedding between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles earlier that day. The fictional pair had also been the 'other' big wedding event in 1981, the year Charles married his first wife Diana Spencer.
Only twice have any celebrities been allowed to play themselves on Coronation Street: the first occasion was when HRH Prince Charles made an appearance on the show's 40th Anniversary episode (2000), and was seen shaking hands with character Audrey Roberts. The second occasion featured Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of the British rock band Status Quo (the band itself also being a national institution). The band's drummer, Matt Lettley, also made a cameo in the episodes. (2005) Appearing in four episodes, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt call into the Rovers Return, and Francis Rossi attacks character Les Battersby (who is played by actor Bruce Jones, himself a massive fan of the group), as Battersby had previously caused him a grievous neck injury. The matter later gets resolved, and the band agree to play at Battersby's upcoming wedding.
Legendarily, creator Tony Warren had to rename the series from its original title "Florizel Street", which was considered to sound like a disinfectant. Denis Forman has recalled that at least two members of Granada's board were dead-set against the show, considering it a "disagreeable" and "downmarket" concept. Company co-founder Sidney Bernstein was also reluctant to commit to the idea. His brother Cecil, with Forman, pushed for the green light.
The first swear word heard on the soap was "bloody", said by Ken Barlow in January 1961 following an argument with his mother Ida. The second swear word was "bastard", spoken by Len Fairclough about Steve Tanner when Elsie returned to the Street in March 1968.
The show was off the air for ten weeks when an ITV strike commenced on 10th August 1979. On its return on ITV's comeback night of 24th October, Julie Goodyear and Peter Adamson provided a brief pre-shot catch-up from the cobbles to remind viewers of the 'current' storylines. William Roache similarly gave a short on-screen tribute when co-star Jack Howarth died.
As of 2013, only one member of the original cast from the debut episode remains: William Roache, who has played Ken Barlow since December 1960. William Roache is the longest-serving actor in the history of television serials. The previous record-holder was Don Hastings, who played Bob Hughes on the American soap As the World Turns (1956) from October 1960, bettering Roache's achievement by two months. He lost his record when that series ended in September 2010.
In January 2002, at the same time the show went widescreen, CGI was added to the opening titles to make the neighborhood look bigger (in particular the Metrolink Tram that runs past the street on the viaduct).
The Rovers Return exterior is really as small as it looks from the outside, inside. The interior of the set on the street is no bigger than a small bathroom. The actual scenes are filmed behind the street.
Between 1989 and 1999, the Granada Studios Tour allowed members of the public the opportunity to take a stroll down the cobbles of Coronation Street. During this period, the "set" remained closed to the public on Mondays since this was the day when exterior scenes for the series were filmed.
Canadian TV station CBKST in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1971 when it bought more than 1,140 episodes of this series. The show ran continuously on the station for about 20 years.
The only time the series' theme tune has been significantly rearranged for transmission was in episode 1170 in April 1972, where Emily Nugent married Ernie Bishop. Steve Race provided a jazz interpretation of Eric Spear's music, which played the episode out over a shot of Albert Tatlock and Minnie Caldwell walking down the Street from the wedding reception. Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! (1997), a video-only soap-bubble, featured a suitably transatlantic cover courtesy of Mike Stock and Matt Aitken.
Episode 4946, broadcast on Friday 8th December 2000, was a special double-length 40th anniversary one. It followed a rescreening of the very first edition and was similarly transmitted live. As noted above, it incorporated a cameo (seen on a TV) by the Prince of Wales, who was purportedly visiting Weatherfield. Ten years later 65 actors and a 300-strong crew produced the hour-long 50th anniversary edition on 9th December 2010 (episode 7487) which again went out live, to an audience of 14 million viewers.
Sidney Bernstein was an old friend of Alfred Hitchcock's (the pair had formed production company Transatlantic Pictures together in the 1940s); as such, Hitch became the first celebrity visitor to the set during a trip to Granada's Studio 2 in Manchester in June 1964.
The physical look of Coronation Street itself was modelled on (one side of) Archie Street in Salford's Ordsall district, discovered during a location scout by creator Tony Warren and designer Denis Parkin in late 1960. It appeared in the first two title sequences, but Archie Street itself was cleared of residents in 1968, remaining derelict until its demolition in 1971.
The first colour title sequence, used between November 1969 and June 1975, opens with a shot of a modern tower block, to emphasize the changing times. This is the fifteen-storey Grafton Court in Manchester's Trafford area, still in use to this day.
In 2011 Philip Lowrie broke the world record for the longest gap between appearances in the same television show, having regularly appeared as Dennis Tanner from the first edition in 1960 through to June 1968, before returning to the part in May 2011. In doing so (beating one-time co-star Kenneth Cope, who was absent from the role of Jed Stone for 42 years between 1966 and 2008) he was awarded with an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The first overseas location work was not until 1974, when producer Susi Hush elected to send the women of Weatherfield on a package holiday to Majorca. The two-episode shoot was not idyllic for the actresses: the production team were housed in a 5* hotel, the cast in a 2* alongside genuine holidaymakers who became unhappy at being shooed away from the pool by director Quentin Lawrence to accommodate his camera crew. Adding insult to injury, make-up was applied at 6am in a room adjacent to an open sewer.
In 2010 the plot demanded that male escort Lewis Archer's advert appeared in "The Lady" magazine. The publication actually placed this mock-up in a genuine issue - and received numerous complaints from aggrieved readers over the 'incorrect' (i.e. fictitious) contact details.
The first ever location shoot took place at Blackpool on Saturday 13th May 1961, for episode 46's Whit Monday Bank Holiday outing. The material was shot silently, so extensive piano vamping was played over the filmed inserts.