January 1978: the gun goes off...
Mrs Wright has e-mailed to ask:
Do you think that the shooting of Ernie Bishop in 1978 was a silly story-line? I wondered if the producers had been watching too much Starsky And Hutch myself.
Well no, I don't think so, Mrs Wright.
I believe that in the 1970s Coronation Street portrayed an outdated community (it probably still does) - with everybody living in each other pockets. The cosiness was one of the things I loved most about it, but there was always room for a socially relevant story-line to burst that bubble. The 1970s stuck a fist through the Street's cosy '50s/60s windows a few times (as did the '80s).
I read recently on BBC Online that experts believe the upsurge in youth gun crime began in the poverty of the 1970s and so I believe that The Street was actually being very topical when Ernie was gunned down in January 1978.
The production team were obviously in touch with the social trends of the time and did not feel that the tragedy was so outlandish as to be impossible.
And, although I was sorry to see the end of Ernie Bishop, and it was a shocking and harrowing story-line, I think they made the right decision.