Sunday, 14 December 2008

1978: Coronation Street Reaches Its 18th Birthday, But How Old Were The Barlow Twins?

Party time! Lots of familiar faces gather in The Rovers to cut the birthday cake and toast the programme. Who do you remember?

If Coronation Street had been a person, it would have got the vote in 1978 as it celebrated its 18th birthday on 9 December. It had been another enjoyable year of Street action, although the death of Ernest Bishop (Stephen Hancock), shot in the chest by young wages thieves at Mike Baldwin's denim factory, had been highly controversial.

This was also the year that the programme's production team tweaked the age of the Barlow twins, Susan and Peter, to fit in with a story line about Peter wishing to join the Royal Navy. The twins had been born during The Street's lifetime, in 1965 to be exact, but in 1978 the date was jiggled. Re-watching the relevant episodes, it all seems a little vague, but at times there are indications that Peter Barlow is already fifteen years old, and on at least one occasion it's stated he will be turning fifteen in 1979.

The Street's then archivist, Eric Rosser, was against the tweaking. A friend of my mother, a huge fan of Corrie, wrote to him to complain, stating that she found the continuity of The Street a great pleasure, and informing him that the "Barlow Twins Tweaking" had come as a great shock to her. Was there any point in following stories in the show any longer if they could be subject to rewriting years later, she asked? Mr Rosser sent her a charming letter, written on a manual typewriter, and made it plain that the tweaking had been none of his doing!

Of course it's happened again since then (probably more than once), and modern day fans seem more "sophisticated" (whatever that means) about such things. But the 1978 Barlow twins story line did not go down too well amongst many Street lovers, and in 1986 the situation was rectified as Susan and Peter celebrated their 21st birthday.

This is a very special card - an invitation card to Coronation Street's 18th birthday party - "Granada Television Invites You To A Party On Friday 8 December 1978 To Celebrate The 18th Anniversary Of Coronation Street. Rehearsal Studio 3 From 6.00-9pm. RSVP Bill Podmore Room 532".


  1. And yet they did adjust Mark (Baldwin)'s age to be the same as Nicky Platt's so that they could be in school and taught by Ken together, leading Ken to date Mark's mother Maggie and discover he's once again got Mike Baldwin's castoffs. They also kind of fudged Sarah's age when she got pregnant but glossed over the fact that she would have been 12 when she actually conceived Beth though 13 when she found out she was 5 months gone! Overall, though, they have always been pretty good with consistency for the kids' ages.

  2. I think the Barlow twins ages were the very first intentional Corrie age tweaking. The audience wasn't keen, it even made the pages of at least one of the national tabloid newspapers. So, tweaking went out of favour in the 1980s, returning the twins to their rightful age in 1986 - but, as you say, the trend returned in the 1990s.