Monday, 17 November 2008

1983: Scandal! Ken, Deirdre And Mike...

It's all over the front page... The Sunday Mirror, January 1983: Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) was having an affair - with cockney factory owner Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). And Deirdre's husband, Ken (William Roache), was oblivious...

But next door neighbour Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) had stumbled upon the truth. A long-time friend of Deirdre and godmother to her daughter, Tracy, Emily, strong Christian as she was, could not condone Mrs Barlow's behaviour. What would she do with the knowledge of Deirdre's deceit?

The story line covered a straight forward case of adultery but had the nation on the edge of its seats back in 1983. And yet nobody was blown up, or murdered, or raped. Modern soap watchers would probably switch off if the idea (a simple slice of human frailty with the naughty bits taken out) was repeated in a modern day soap.

From the Sunday Mirror, January 30, 1983:

Bored Deirdre Barlow's "Coronation Street" romance with smooth-talking Mike Baldwin will earn her a right talking-to tomorrow night.

Millions of enthralled fans will see the prim and proper Emily Bishop wade in to try to keep Deirdre and her plodding husband Ken together.

Viewers were left on tenterhooks last week when Emily overheard Deirdre - played by actress Anne Kirkbride - break a clandestine dinner date with factory boss Mike Baldwin.

The "Sunday Mirror" can reveal that, despite Emily's showdown with Deirdre, the Street's hottest affair will go on.

The show's producer Bill Podmore confirmed that tomorrow night's episode will see Emily, played by Eileen Derbyshire, trying to mend the Barlows' bogged-down marriage.

Bill said: "The affair continues although it does make Deirdre think about what she's doing."

The romance has been the talk of streets up and down the country.

Even the love lives of the show's regular sexpots, Elsie Tanner and barmaid Bet Lynch, have been pushed into the shade since Deirdre and Mike, played by Johnny Briggs, first kissed on screen.

Meanwhile, another Bishop warned yesterday that the affair could be a big turn-off for fans of the hit TV series.

The Bishop of Edmonton, the Right Reverend Bill Westwood said: "Too much realism killed of 'Mrs Dale's Diary' on the radio.

"The same thing could happen with 'Coronation Street' "

A spokesman for Granada TV said: "There won't be any any unpleasant scenes, no X-certificate stuff."


Sunday Mirror columnist Claire Rayner believes Deirdre should 'cool it'. If Deirdre had written to her this would have been Claire's advice: "You won't solve your boring marriage in someone else's bed. Talk to your husband about the way you feel and by communicating properly for a change."

"Someone else's bed"?!! Heavens, as far as we could see Deirdre and Mike's affair never got beyond the sofa! And nothing naughty happened at all!

Very different times on the telly.

Could Deirdre have done with an image change to re-light her marriage? On the opposite page to the featured Corrie article was the lovely vision featured above. One of the trendiest looks of 1983, apparently. Nice face, shame about the legwarmers.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

1983: The Old Order Changes...

We'd lost long-established regulars Jack Walker, Minnie Caldwell and Jerry Booth from the Coronation Street cast in the '70s. Elsie Tanner had left for around three years and then returned. The Street's production team were well aware that the old order was subject to change. 1980 saw the final appearance of Ena Sharples. Violet Carson had appeared less and less frequently during the ten years leading up to her farewell. When Ena left The Street, bound for Mr Foster's, nobody knew it was for the last time. Indeed, sometime afterwards, the Daily Mirror carried an article entitled "I'll Be Back" - which told of Miss Carson's plans to return to the role.

In 1983, The Street entered stormy waters indeed - the year saw the final appearances of Len Fairclough and the newly-wed Eddie and Marion Yeats, who had met so romantically over the CB airwaves in 1982, and short-stayer Chalkie Whiteley. Actually, it wasn't quite Eddie's final appearance as he popped back to see Mrs O in 1987.

Before the end of '83, we knew that 1984 would see us bidding farewell to Elsie Tanner again. And, as it turned out, '84 would see the deaths of Albert Tatlock, Bert Tilsley and Stan Ogden.

1983 did have its up-side: the Duckworths moved into No 9. Vera Duckworth had been a character in the show for years, although never a resident of The Street. In November 1979, we first met her husband Jack, who was developed into a fully fledged character during various short stints in the show in the early 1980s.

In 1977, Vera had entered a glamorous granny contest at the community centre. But in 1983, as she at last moved into The Street, the writers gave some attention to her family background, did away with the granny concept, and introduced a crafty, cynical son, Terry, born in the mid-1960s.

One of the people most horrified to see the Duck Eggs move into Coronation Street was Annie Walker, of The Rovers Return. But sadly she wouldn't have to put up with them for long. Doris Speed fell ill in late 1983 and was never well enough to appear in the show again.

From the Sun, 1/10/1983:

Crisis-torn Coronation Street has been rocked yet again - by the collapse of actress Doris Speed in the TV studios.

Last night, as she recovered at home after three days treatment, she said: "I was very brave. I battled right through to the end and managed to get all my lines out."

It was hoped that Doris would be well enough to return to the show, but by early 1984 it was evident she probably wouldn't. So, Annie's retirement was announced on-screen, and son Billy returned to run his mother's old empire. Billy's short tenure at the pub was stormy, and soon the Walker era at The Rovers was history.

But not quite. It was never part of an episode, but Doris/Annie did appear behind the bar at The Rovers again. In 1987/88, a large cheque was offered for charity if Doris would step back behind the bar as part of an ITV Telethon. She agreed.

This was a very different Rovers to her old domain - burnt down in 1986. But there was no doubt that the new bar suited her and there was also no doubt that Annie was in charge - I seem to remember Bet and Alec Gilroy standing respectfully behind her as she accepted the cheque for charity from the benefactor ("That should buy you a very large drink!") and operated the new beer pump, commenting with typical Doris Speed wit that the old pumps had required more effort and were better at developing the cleavage!

Does anybody have a copy of this Telethon footage? I would love to see it again!

The tabloids made much of the Street "Crisis"! Inside the Sun carrying the news of Doris Speed's sudden departure from the studios was the article pictured above:

Coronation Street, Britain's best-loved soap opera, has been rocked by crisis after crisis in the last few weeks.

The star cast has been drastically slashed as one after another of the big names have been axed or decided to move out of The Street.

In the next two months we will say goodbye to Elsie Tanner, Len Fairclough, Eddie Yeats and Marion Willis. Bert Tilsley has already been written out.

And the future for Stan Ogden, Annie Walker and Albert Tatlock must mean smaller and smaller parts as they battle ill health and old age.

For Coronation Street addicts, it will be almost like moving house, with a whole new set of neighbours to get used to.

Characters who have had little more to do than lean on the bar at The Rovers will find themselves on The Street to stardom as scriptwriters expand their stories to fill the gaps.

Who will be the second generation of Coronation Street stars?

The Sun has been looking at the young characters now in the series, and working out how their parts could be developed.
Most of the characters listed are long forgotten! Do you remember Pamela Mitchell or Don Watkins? I do remember Roy Valentine, who seemed set to become The Street's first regular black character:

From the Sun:

Roy Valentine, Len Fairclough's odd-job boy, played by Tony Marshall.

DEBUT: March, 1983.

A cheeky charmer out to better himself. He isn't going to let his colour stop him getting on in life or getting off with the girls.


Six out of ten. He'll be teaching the regulars how to reggae down at the new disco. And he could set the lace curtains twitching when he walks down the street with his first girlfriend.
Sadly, the departure of Len Fairclough meant the end of Roy Valentine.

Then there was:

Curly Watts, Eddie Yeats' new partner on the bins, played by Kevin Kennedy.

Debut: August, 1983.

He's single but goofy, yucky and downright plain. Still he's got the sort of cheeky Northern wit that goes down well with a pint.


Four out of ten. This spindly lad with the John Lennon specs certainly doesn't look like a heart-throb but neither did Eddie. Maybe he'll be able to laugh his way into the arms of some girl.

Of course, for the more discerning viewer, there was Victor Pendlebury:

Mavis' one and only love, played by Christopher Coll.

Debut: October, 1982.

He may have a boring job at the local council, but at heart he is a passionate poet.

He nurtured more than just Mavis' writing skills when they penned a racy short story together. Then Mavis refused to live in sin.


Six out of ten. The Street needs another married couple and Victor could be the man to save Mavis from becoming an old maid.
And what about Des Foster?

Councillor played by Neil Phillips.

Debut: July, 1983.

He's a married man with an eye for busty barmaids. Bet Lynch's earrings started quivering the moment he walked into the Rovers and fixed her with his big blue eyes. She pulled his pint and he pulled her.

But his wife in the wings made even Bet lose her bottle and she gave him the heave-ho.


Nine out of ten. He could be the cad every woman loves to hate, a natural rival for rogue romeo Mike Baldwin.

If he ditches his wife, his return to the Rovers would give Bet's big heart a flutter - and he would be fair game for any other footloose and fancy free regulars.

This young lady got ten out of ten from the Sun...

Sharon Gaskell, Len Fairclough's wayward foster daughter, played by Tracie Bennett.

Debut: March, 1982.

The best news to hit The Street for years, a real naughty girl.

Sexy Sharon had her own fan club within a month of moving into The Street.


Ten out of ten. She's only young but she's the only female around with enough sex appeal to step into Elsie Tanner's stilettos. She'll leave a lot of broken hearts - and even broken marriages - behind her before she settles down.

Of course, The Street weathered its losses. And things didn't turn out quite as the Sun envisaged!

1963: Andy Capp And Miss Nugent...

I originally featured this post in my 1960s Blog, Spacehopper:

The late Reg Smythe's famous creation Andy Capp made his debut in 1957 and is seen here in 1963, having his weekly dip in the tub in front of the telly. But who is "Miss Nugent"? You might know her better as Emily Bishop, wife of the late Ernest and long-time Coronation Street regular.

Miss Nugent was a shy spinister in the early 1960s - hence Florrie's concern!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Uttered In The '80s - Part 1

Introducing Uttered In The '80s - Back On The Street's look back at some memorable Corrie quotes from the decade of shoulder pads, the Rubik's Cube and the ZX Spectrum.

The Rovers Return, 1986. Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) and Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) have been discussing the latest twist in the long running saga of Derek and Mavis, whilst Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro) looks on.

Emily: "I sometimes think Mavis isn't really cut out for love."

Terry: "I sometimes wonder if Mavis was cut off the back of a Bunty comic."

The lady in question, played by Thelma Barlow, pictured in 1982.

What's Going On?

The year was 1976, the location was the Rovers Return Inn, Coronation Street. Mr Stanley Ogden (Bernard Youens) and Mrs Annie Walker (Doris Speed) were two of the characters involved. But what was the story line?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Many Thanks!

As a new kid on the Corrie blogging block, I must say a big thank you to Glenda and Tvor for sending greetings and providing some publicity for this new Corrie venture which will take us through three decades - from the thrills of 1960s hippiedom (and Mr Swindley) to the anger of 1970s Punk Rock (and Mavis Riley) and on to the shoulder padded, brick phone wonders of the 1980s (and Liz McDonald).

Check out Glenda and Tvor's excellent sites - Coronation Street Blog and Downeast Corrie Blogger.

And thanks again - it's nice to know the neighbours are so friendly!

1974: Why Deirdre Wore Cracked And Tatty Specs

From the Weekly News, January 26 1974:


When Anne Kirkbride came out of the Granada studios to tell her father, who was waiting in his car, that she'd got a part in "Coronation Street", he thought it was marvellous news.

Anne wasn't so sure.

"I was working at Oldham Rep at the time, and I'd done a couple of small parts on television," she said. "When Granada rang and asked me to go for an interview, I was petrified.

"It seemed such a big building. I felt lost.

"So when they did offer me a part in 'The Street' I had mixed feelings.

"It was, of course, a tremendous opportunity, and just at the right moment of my career.

"I'd been at Oldham for about three years and I was on the point of moving somewhere new.

"Oldham was an obvious place to start my acting career. I live with my parents on the moors above the town, in a farmhouse over 200 years old.

"Friends call it 'Wuthering Heights'. It started life as a row of cottages, then became an inn and, finally, a farmhouse.

"My brother, who is sixteen, lives at home and we share the house with a dog that is mostly Spaniel, a couple of cats and some goldfish."

After leaving school, Anne got a job as an assistant stage manager at Oldham.

She also took small parts in plays and gradually the parts got better and better.

Finally, she was taken on to the acting staff.

Anne, who plays Deirdre Hunt in "The Street", is lucky to be one of the characters who is not recognised a lot by the fans when she is outside the studios.

The secret is in her glasses.

The ones she wears off screen are quite different from those Deirdre wears.

"When I first started work I didn't wear any glasses at all playing Deirdre.

"At that time, off the screen, I was wearing big, round ones.

"Then the director said, 'You are going to wear your glasses, aren't you? They would be ideal for the character.'

"I did and I have worn them ever since.

"They've become cracked and are held together by sticky tape now, but they're a good luck token to me, so I keep on patching them up.

"Deirdre wouldn't be quite the same without them."

Albion Market

With Corrie producer Bill Podmore at the helm, it seemed that Albion Market was destined for big things. Produced by Granada, it was billed as being Coronation Street's stable mate and seemed sure to be a long runner.

The show was launched in 1985, and ended in 1986 - after exactly 100 episodes.

What was it about? Why did it end? And was it as "good" as Eldorado? Read all about Albion Market here.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Rosamund Street, 1963

A beautifully detailed Coronation Street jigsaw puzzle design from c. 1963. Ena Sharples and Martha Longhurst are standing on the corner of Bessie Street, observing Minnie Caldwell escorting a local moggy (possibly Bobby!) across the busy main road - with the aid of Albert Tatlock, lollipop man.

Florrie Lindley is also an onlooker. Gamma Garments, workplace of Mr Swindley, Miss Nugent and Doreen Lostock, ruled by the unseen but terrifying Mr Papagopolous, can be seen in the background. "VOTE FOR SWINDLEY!" proclaims a poster on the side of the building - recalling Mr Swindley's foray into local politics as the leader of the Property Owners And Small Traders Party. Beside Gamma is a tobacco kiosk, and beside that a laundrette. The bus, a No 63, is heading for Victoria Street, Coronation Street, Rosamund Street and the Town Centre.

Piecing It All Together...

One of a series of jigsaw puzzles from c. 1963 featuring characters from Coronation Street. Note the street featured on the box, which is actually Archie Street, Ordsall - the original template for the Coronation Street architecture. English folklore has been greatly enriched by the addition of television soap opera characters like fearsome old dragon Ena Sharples and the glamorous and fiery Elsie Tanner.

The Street began on 9/12/1960, the creation of one Tony Warren, and continues to entertain a mass audience to this day.

The characters featured in this jigsaw have long departed. Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) left in 1980, and moved to Lytham St Anne's; Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol) died in the snug of the Rovers Return in 1964; Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) left to keep house for an old friend in 1976; Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) left in 1984 to live in Portugal with an old flame; and Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) died in a car crash in 1983.

Archie Street was demolished in 1971.

Archie Street

This little terrace, seen here derelict in 1971, was the inspiration for the original Coronation Street architecture.

Back in 1960, with the show in its planning stages, members of the production team toured areas of Manchester looking for a real street which would help them to visualise and bring their fictional street to life. They happened upon Archie Street in the Ordsall district, and the street served as a rough template for the original Coronation Street exterior set (which was built in the Granada TV studios).

Archie Street was also used for some opening title and end credit shots, a small amount of outdoor filming, and was
featured on the packaging of a series of early 1960s Coronation Street jigsaw puzzles. More

Archie Street was nicknamed "Coronarchie Street" by local inhabitants!

The heyday of the Victorian/Edwardian working class terraced house had apparently long gone by the start of the 1960s (however they became sought after again by the retro-loving "trendies" of the '70s), and many old streets in Manchester were swept away. The local council began moving the residents of Archie Street out in 1968, and the bulldozers arrived in 1971.

St Clement's Church, to the far left of the picture, remains and is still an integral part of the local community.

There is an Archie Street in Salford today, but it is not on the site of the original street, which now contains the modern houses of the St Clements Drive/Buckfield Avenue area.

Discovering the location of the original Archie Street took some detective work on my part. Surely it was on the site of the present day Archie Street in Salford? But I wasn't satisfied with that, having read in HV Kershaw's 1981 autobiography, The Street Where I Live, that Archie Street had been demolished to make way for high rise blocks of flats. There were none in the modern day Archie Street.

The discovery of St Clement's Church at the end of the street in the photograph provided me with the essential clue - was the church still there? It was, of course, and hey presto, the site of the original, inspirational Archie Street terrace was revealed - not, after all, occupied by high rise flats, although there are some not far away.

Incidently, the commercial property on the corner of the original Archie Street, used as a model for Coronation Street's corner shop, was actually an off-licence, and the street had another claim to fame: English footballer Eddie Colman, one of "Busby's Babes" who died in the 1958 Munich air crash, was born there.

1984: Curly Fizzles Out

From the TVTIMES Soaps Page by Alan Kennaugh, 3-9 November 1984:

To be perfectly honest, 'fireworks' is not a word you would normally associate with Curly Watts of Coronation Street. He's a nice enough lad, but he lacks real fizz and sparkle.

This week though it's time for the Bonfire Night celebrations, and Curly (played by Kevin Kennedy) is getting poetic about fireworks and telling his mates in the Rovers all about Guy Fawkes. He's stumped, however, when someone asks why we burn effigies of Guy.

In fact, Guy was said to have planned to blow up Parliament on 5 November 1605. He was arrested twenty-four hours earlier and executed two months later. We've been burning his effigy ever since.

1978: Joe Dawson

Bit of a Corrie bad 'un, this one. Joe Dawson (Peter Schofield) breezed into Rosamund Street in 1978 and acquired the vacant shop premises next door to The Kabin.

Of course, Rita and Mavis were very curious indeed to know what Mr Dawson's business was going to be.

An "outlet" - the third - for the bread and cakes produced at his bakery in Armitage Street, said Mr D.

But that wasn't all there was to it. The "outlet" was going to be a cafe.

And at that time The Kabin was doing a thriving trade as a cafe/newsagent's.

The Kabin soon received a visit from a local council inspector, and the cafe operation was declared illegal. There were no toilet facilities.

Len and Rita were furious - who had blown the whistle on them? Alf Roberts, a local councillor, made inquiries, and Joe Dawson was revealed to be the culprit.

Len went berserk and Mr Dawson nearly ended up on the end of his fist.

When Emily Bishop applied for a job at the cafe, Mr Dawson told her that he hadn't set out to drop Len in it: on enquiring about sanitary requirements for his new premises, he had baulked at the Council's insistence on his providing two loos and pointed out that The Kabin had none, so surely they were not necessary by law?

Emily believed him. But we viewers had our doubts.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

1978: Gail Potter And The Nuclear War Threat...

The 1970s were in the thick of the Cold War years. As a kid back then, I was terrified that America and Russia would go to war and that would be the end for all of us. I had nightmares about it, sweated about it, cringed at the (I thought) scary-sounding theme tunes of World In Action and News At Ten. I closed my ears as narrators and newscasters on these two programmes began to speak, convinced that the end was nigh.

I wasn't alone. My mate Pete and I often discussed the prospect of nuclear war, and we knew many other kids who shared our worries. An adult neighbour of my mine had stocked up a load of pills, which she showed us. She said she would take them when nuclear war was imminent.

I used to feel sick with fear at times. Then, for me at least, Coronation Street stepped in!

It was August 1978 and Gail Potter (Helen Worth) and Suzie Birchall (Cheryl Murray) were making a salad in the kitchen at No. 11...

Gail: "Do you think there'll be another war?"

Suzie (flatly - in a what is the silly moo wittering about now? tone of voice) "Do I think there'll be another war?"

Gail: "Do yer?"

Suzie: "How should I know?"

Gail: "They're talkin' about it, aren't they?"

Suzie: "Are they? Who?!"

Gail: "The Americans and the Russians."

Suzie: "Is that right?"

Gail: "Don't you even listen when there's News At Ten on?"

Suzie: "Only the interestin' bits..."

Gail: "Sometimes I get quite worried about it, honest I do."

Suzie (continuing her own train of thought): "... a divorce or someone dyin' and leavin' a load of money."

Gail: "Don't you care if there's another war?"

Suzie: "I don't think about it much - it don't bother me."

Gail: "Yeah, but if they do."

Suzie: "Well, if they do they wouldn't ask me anyway, would they?"

Gail: "That's the whole point, innit, they wouldn't bother askin' you, they'd just blow us all up."

Suzie: "Well, if they do ask me, I'll tell them not to bother, all right? I'll say they need their heads bangin', they should kiss an' make up."

Gail: "I think it's quite scary if you think about it."

Suzie: "Then DON'T. Is there any salad cream?"

Gail's fears continued throughout the episode, but cynical Suzie and worldly Elsie Tanner, both more concerned with getting on with living than worrying themselves to a standstill over something that might not happen, and they couldn't stop if it did, had a great effect on me.

For the first time I began to realise that I shouldn't spend time paralysed with fear over the nuclear threat. I was too young to join protest marches, I wanted to do OK in my O' Levels and basically my screwing my life up was not going to help anything.

The other day, I saw the 1978 episode of Coronation Street again and gasped as my feelings from way back then came flooding back. I remembered how terrified I was back in the 1970s, and how this episode of a soap opera helped me to get on with living.

Nowadays, other things are there to worry us and the Cold War ice, which thawed rapidly in the mid-to-late 1980s, is just a memory. But I haven't forgotten the terrible fear I felt, and no matter how daft I find Corrie in the modern day, I still have feelings of gratitude for that one episode back in 1978...

It Suits Albert Tatlock...

From the Daily Mirror, November 3, 1983:

Albert Tatlock, that crusty old Coronation Street regular, has worn the same suit in the series for twenty-three years.

It is a dark grey, three piece, woollen single-breasted outfit.

The secret of Albert's long-service suit is revealed in First Post (ITV, 4.20) when presenter Sue Robbie goes behind the scenes into Granada's wardrobe department.

Sue says: "A TV wardrobe department is usually taken for granted until a costume or period drama crops up.

"But there's still work to be done every day, including a present-day series such as Coronation Street."

Noreen McGuire, the Street's wardrobe mistress, says: "Albert Tatlock's suit is a very ordinary, standard one.

"But Jack Howarth, who plays him, is very comfortable in it and he doesn't like change.

"Albert does have another suit which is much newer and comes out for special occasions. But he always goes back to the old faithful."

Jack, 87, has played Albert Tatlock ever since the first episode in 1960.

A Granada spokesman said: "The suit has seen better days but it is still serviceable."

Into The '80s...

Coronation Street celebrated its 2,000th episode on 2 June 1980, and TV Times published a souvenir magazine to celebrate.

The landmark occasion was reached on the same day that Elizabeth II celebrated twenty-seven years as Queen. On the cover of the magazine were Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix), Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth), Ken Barlow (William Roache) and Tracy Langton (Christabel Finch). The souvenir included an introduction by Len Fairclough, a copy of the script of the very first episode, street party scenes and photographs of a trip to Singapore, featuring the producer and several cast members.

Ena Sharples made her final appearance in Coronation Street in April 1980. There was no big send-off as Violet Carson did not intend to leave at that point and several long absences during the 1970s had familiarised viewers with lengthy spells without the Hair-Netted One.

In the storyline, Ena threatened not to return, but she'd done that before!

Violet had not been in the best of health for years, and had at times seemed somewhat disenchanted with the character of Ena, but I remember reading a newspaper article headed something like I'll Be Back, Vows Ena, complete with a lovely photograph of Vi at home in Blackpool, revealing her determination to don that famous hairnet again.

Sadly, this was not to be. Violet died on Boxing Day 1983.

Tracy Langton is in the lead in the egg and spoon race - and rules are made to be broken! Look at the blatant egg-gripping going on!

"Ooh, flamin' nora - fellas!!" Party animal Mike Baldwin sleeps it off.

What was happening to Len Fairclough in 1980? Well, the year had begun badly with Rita lambasting him after he'd slipped off to Molly Coggan's New Year party with a few of the lads, leaving Rita high and dry at the Rovers.

Early in 1980, Rita walked out on him, seeking to take up her nightclub singing career again. Len hit her and she left for Blackpool.

Len begged her to return and she did, but she made two things plain - Fairclough's selfish ways and the pig sty they lived in would BOTH have to change.

Other happenings of 1980 included Eddie Yeats moving in with Stan and Hilda Ogden, Renee Roberts meeting a nasty end in a road accident, and Bet Lynch and Elsie Tanner clashing over womanising lorry driver Dan Jackson.

He wasn't worth it.
-Talking of Len, here's a newspaper advertisement from 1980. Video technology had been around for yonks, but domestic VCRs only a few years. In 1980, only 5% of UK households possessed a video recorder - they were far from cheap to buy outright at that point, and renting was a financial commitment many could do without in those hard-pressed times. The video revolution had to wait until a bit later in the decade to take hold.

The Magic of Coronation Street, Distant Memories - 1960-64.
The very first Coronation Street video was released in late 1982 and was produced by Granada Video. It contained six full episodes, including the first, and specially filmed sequences with Doris Speed, Pat Phoenix and Peter Adamson in character as Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner and Len Fairclough. My family didn't have a video recorder at the time, nobody I knew did, but I thought video was the "coming thing", so bought the Coronation Street video.
The Magic of Coronation Street later returned to the shops in different packaging - courtesy of Vestron Video - as two separate releases, each containing three episodes.
-This photograph from the Daily Mirror, 27/2/1982, shows an excited Hilda Ogden pointing at the new, under-construction, No 13 Coronation Street.
Hilda had already experienced two new No 13 exteriors. The Ogdens arrived in the programme in 1964 and in those days the Street's exterior set was actually in the studio.
In the late 1960s, an outdoor set was constructed - of lath and board - on the Grape Street lot near the studio. A single English winter played havoc with the flim-flam facade, and permission was granted for the Street's frontage to be built in brick. The back yards were added later.
For reasons of space, the outdoor facade was built far smaller than life size, as had been the case with the original studio set. But few viewers noticed anything wrong as, when seen through the TV cameras, the Street looked much larger.
In 1982, the Street was rebuilt, closer to life-size than it had ever been, and an entry was inserted between the Rovers Return and Albert Tatlock's bay window. For years, viewers had been writing in to say that the Rovers loo doors led directly into Albert's. They did, and the show's producer Bill Podmore used to joke: "Perhaps that's why he's always so grumpy!"
So, with a little bit of extra space for the ladies' and gents' conveniences (though, outside of soap reality, probably not enough), 1982 was a happy year for Albert!
- 5 May 1982 - and there's some Royal visitors at the Ogdens! The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the new exterior set and met members of the cast and production team.

The "Coronation Street" cast, all dressed in their characters' best clothes, waited to greet the VIP visitors by their respective front doors. Jean Alexander, in Hilda's best frock, was actually curler-less (yes, Hilda would take them out on special occasions!), Stan (Bernard Youens) wore his best cardie and jacket, but Geoffrey Hughes, as Eddie Yeats, was wearing a donkey jacket over his smart suit - as befitted Eddie's role as a binman.

Giggling, gap-toothed Scouser Eddie was a long-term pal of the Oggies, and became their lodger in 1980. He met his true love, Marion Willis (Veronica Doran), in 1982. The couple were caught up in the CB radio craze and carried the "handles" "Slim Jim" and "Stardust Lill". They met over the airwaves. In 1983, Marion and Eddie married and left the Street.

The Rovers Return In The 1970s - The Lady In Charge

Signed photograph showing Doris Speed as Annie Walker, Mayoress of Weatherfield.
Inscription on the back of the photograph.

The Rovers Return Inn, Coronation Street, underwent several changes in the 1970s, not to mention copping its fair share of everyday comedy and drama.

In 1970, Arthur Leslie, who played landlord Jack Walker, died. Much loved as the kindly and long suffering husband of snobbish Annie, there was no chance of the role being recast. And so Jack died too - on a visit to his daughter Joan.

Annie remained and the decade contained a mixed bag of fortunes for her.

She disapproved when son Billy appointed “common” Bet Lynch as barmaid in 1970.

She became mayoress of Weatherfield to Alf Roberts’ mayor, and took elocution lessons in 1973.

She was terrorised by two hooligans who hid in the Rovers loos at closing time and emerged after the rest of the staff had gone home in 1975.

She fought against Renee Bradshaw’s plans to open an off-licence at the Corner Shop, and lost in 1976.

She learned to drive and bought a Rover 2000 car - also in 1976. Of course, having learned to drive, being Annie, she rarely did. She much preferred being chauffeured by Rovers potman Fred Gee!

She suffered a terrible trauma when a lorry crashed into the front of the Rovers in March 1979 after the driver had a heart attack at the wheel.

Doris Speed was a true original, basing her characterisation of Mrs Walker on her Aunt Bessie, who used to lead the family at charades at Christmas and had a withering look to bestow on those who mocked.

Unlike Mrs Walker, Doris was a staunch socialist and possessed of a splendid sense of humour, telling endless hilarious anecdotes, often against herself.

Annie, the snob supreme of the Street, could have been hated by viewers, but the excellent acting of Doris Speed, and some terrific scripts, prevented it. There were times when we could have cheerfully throttled her, but other times when we were deeply concerned for the character.

I remember me and my family, all sitting around the telly with lumps in our throats, feeling terribly sorry for Mrs Walker after her son Billy had laid into her over her interference in his relationship with Deirdre Hunt. Annie had interfered because she truly believed that Dierdre was not good enough for her son. Once she had been found out, nobody could fail to be affected by Doris Speed’s performance as Billy told Annie that he never wanted to see her again.

What was clear about Annie was that she never acted out of “cartoon baddie” motives. She sincerely believed that what she was doing was for the best.

When Bet upbraided Annie for opposing Renee Bradshaw’s application for an off-licence, accusing her of doing so out of grandiose pretentiousness and a selfish determination to keep the Rovers as top dog for drinkers in the neighbourhood, Annie was shocked and hurt that Bet and many of her regulars believed this to be true. She explained, with obvious sincerity, that she had simply acted out of love for the Rovers.

I don’t watch Coronation Street now, but I recall episodes some years ago when Maureen Lipman played an Annie Walker-style bar manageress. Rita Sullivan commented that the Rovers was no place for a snob like her.

Oh, Rita, I thought, what a short memory you have!

It was a snob that gave the Rovers its highly distinctive atmosphere and many of its finest storylines, from December 1960 to October 1983.

Cheers, Annie!
Two sides of a Rovers Return Newton and Ridley beermat, sent to me by Granada Televsion, c. 1978. These were in use in the programme in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Jilted John And Gail Potter - "Stood Up" At The Flicks...

Simply one of the best pop records. Not just of 1978. Not even just of the '70s. But EVER.

Jilted John hit the charts just as I was on the very brink of teenagehood in August 1978 and it fitted my mood exactly. My hormones hadn't waited for the magic "13", due in October, and my body and moods were already undergoing thoroughly grotty changes. And had been since I was eleven.

So John's rantings suited me perfectly. John was really one Graham Fellows, and this record was a spoof of the Punk/New Wave songs around at the time - a tremendously clever one which had enormous appeal to us comp school kids. John was a bit of a retard, and, it seemed, also a bit of a "girly" (fancy crying all the way to the chip shop!) but somehow he struck a chord with me and a lot of "der lads" I knew back then.

As was the fashion in the Punk era, the song had a great 1950s guitar riff, and the "in" way to dance to it was with a 1950s hand jive. But you had to wear a thoroughly bored, pissed off expression whilst you did it. "Postmodern irony" some call it. Back in 1978, I had no idea what "postmodern" meant (it was just something the likes of Melvin Bragg liked to waffle about) and, despite studying theories of post modernity in the '90s, I remain unconvinced that it's not just a load of written and verbal diarrhoea, fresh from the bowels of academia.

Whenever I hear Jilted John, I'm instantly reminded of the grotty, greasy, zit-ridden little geezer I was back in 1978. Miserable little sod I was. And I had a hair cut just like Terry Wogan's.

I'm also reminded of the mates I had, some of whom are still mates of mine today. And standing in the local shopping centre during the evenings with said mates, "gobbing off" at passers by. And picking my zits. And being bored a lot of the time. And hating everything.

They were good days.

And by the way: Gordon is a moron.

Coronation Street, New Year's Day 1979, and Gail Potter (Helen Worth) is waiting for Brian Tilsley at the pictures. But who is the dashing fellow beside her?

Yep, it's Graham Fellows, AKA Jilted John, making a cameo appearance in The Street as a young lad who, like Gail, has been "stood up". He offered to go into the flicks with her, but Gail was not impressed. She never did know what was good for her that girl - remember how her life turned out with Brian, and think just how different things could have been had she settled down with Jilted John...

Mind you, she was a funny lass even back then. I mean, just LOOK at the gloves she's wearing...

Coming Soon...

In the 1970s, Gail Potter (Helen Worth) was terrified at the prospect of nuclear war. But cynical '70s Suzie Birchall (Cheryl Murray) took it all in her stride.

In the 1980s, our Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) first turned up in Coronation Street. He was a trendy young '80s dude, sporting moustache, buffant mullet and some rather tight jeans. He was rumoured to deputise for the dark haired guy in Hall & Oates on his days off from Tilsley's Garage.

We'll be taking an in-depth look at some Coronation Street storylines of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in the coming months.