On Friday, April 8, 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 Prince Charles married his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer.
As of 2017, 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 opera 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.
The first time this show was filmed in high definition, was for the special "Siege Week", aired in May and June 2010. The story followed villain Tony Gordon's (Gray O'Brien's) escape from prison to kidnap his ex-wife Carla Connor (Alison King), who was bound and gagged in her Underworld factory with Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh). King filmed the majority of the scenes of "Siege Week" tied up on a chair, with her mouth gagged, taped shut with duct tape. Following the conclusion of "Siege Week", the show was filmed from then on in high definition.
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 greenlight.
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 August 10, 1979. On its return on ITV's comeback night of October 24, 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.
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 five-star hotel, the cast in a two-star, 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 6 a.m., in a room adjacent to an open sewer.
Canadian television 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 twenty years.
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 color 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-story Grafton Court in Manchester's Trafford area, still in use to this day.
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.
Episode 4946, broadcast on Friday, December 8, 2000, was a special double-length 40th anniversary one. It followed a rescreening of the first edition, and was similarly transmitted live. As noted above, it incorporated a cameo (seen on a television) by the Prince of Wales, who was purportedly visiting Weatherfield. Ten years later, sixty-five actors and a three hundred-strong crew produced the hour-long 50th anniversary edition on December 9, 2010 (episode 7487), which again went out live, to an audience of fourteen million viewers.
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 episode 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 forty-two years between 1966 and 2008) he was awarded with an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
In 2010, the plot demanded that male escort Lewis Archer's advert appear 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" (fictitious) contact details.
The first ever location shoot took place in Blackpool on Saturday, May 13, 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.
Anne Reid, who played Valerie Barlow from 1961-1971, and Thelma Barlow, who played Mavis Wilton from 1971-1997, both went on to co-star in Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies (1998-2000). Shobna Gulati, Andrew Dunn, Maxine Peake, and Sue Cleaver appeared alongside them in the latter, and all would go on to appear in this show.
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).
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.
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.
Ken Barlow was absent from the show from 29 April 2013, while Bill Roache fought rape and indecent assault accusations, which he was later cleared of on 5 February 2014. To cover his absence, it was said that Ken's grandson Adam; who lived in Canada at the time, had injured himself and Ken went over there to look after him. Roache returned to filming in June 2014 and Ken returned to Coronation Street on 4 August 2014.
Doctor Who (1963) producer John Nathan-Turner wanted to produce the series and his agent put his name forward to be considered, but he was unsuccessful. Nathan-Turner said prior to his death that he was a particular fan of the series and not becoming producer of Coronation Street was his biggest unfulfilled ambition.
Sean Wilson revealed during an interview on The Wright Stuff (2000) that he left the series because he didn't want to do a storyline about his character having a relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl.
Yorkshire born session musician Ronnie Hunt performed the solo in the title music. He was paid six pounds. After many takes, Composer Eric Spear was unsatisfied by the recording takes. Ronnie Hunt asked him what the music was for, where was the program was set. Once he knew, he created the sound by using a mute on his trumpet, to create a cornet "Northern" brass band sound.
On December 2, 2016, it was announced online Helen Flanagan was set to return as Rosie Webster in February 2017, five years after her character left Weatherfield, to star in an American reality television show on February 10, 2012.
Granada announcer Jim Pope paid a moving and touching tribute to Pat Phoenix on the night of the day she died, which he expressed loss and regret, as the actress was a close friend of his, and he never had the chance to thank her for what she said to him about his voice, and that he should do something with his voice, twenty-one years earlier.
A new standing set at Trafford Wharf Road was unveiled in November 2013, with shooting moved there at the beginning of 2014. The previous Street set at Granada's Quay Street home was meticulously moved brick-by-brick (down to the location and size of puddles), though the opportunity was taken to upgrade the house sizes (thus the Rovers Return now has two upper windows). 54,000 reclaimed Salford cobbles were used in the 2-year job. The lot now covers 7.7 acres.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
When TVONE New Zealand aired double episodes of the soap opera in the mid 2000s, Episode 5419 was given the 8:30 p.m. time slot, and aired half an hour after Episode 5418, due to the shocking scene, in which Maxine Peacock is killed by Richard Hillman with a crowbar when she witnesses him attempting to murder Emily Bishop.