Wednesday, 26 August 2009

1981: The Arrival Of Alma Sedgewick...

The Sun, Monday, June 22, 1981.

Alma Sedgewick (Amanda Barrie) made her Coronation Street screen debut in 1981. And all I can say is, that cafe on Rosamund Street had gone right downhill.

Flippin' 'eck!

It had started out in the late summer of 1978 as quite a nice little place, lovey. Owned by Joe Dawson (Peter Schofield), and staffed by Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) and Gail Potter (Helen Worth), the food was a little on the pricey side - so pricey in fact that Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) declared on her first visit that she'd come back when she was married to a Rothschild - but it was a nice stop-off for a cuppa and a fancy cake. Mind you, the crusty loaves sometimes looked a little overdone to me, although Mr Dawson was a baker by trade.

Sadly, all this changed in 1980, when Jim Sedgewick (Michael O'Hagan) bought it and turned it into a transport cafe to take advantage of trade from the new lorry park at the back of Canal Street.

Emily, horrified by the ruffians and the jukebox, beat a hasty retreat, Gail stayed and Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) became manageress.

Then, in 1981, Jim Sedgewick's wife, "Alma The Alligator", put in her first appearance.

Describing Alma in her early days, Amanda Barrie once said: "She was a frivolous, heartless, work-shy, person who wasn't interested in anything except herself."

But people, and Corrie characters, can and do change. Alma was an occasional visitor to the cafe and the show until late 1988, and then settled down to become a Street regular and favourite.

The Sun newspaper's 1981 TV feature on Amanda and Alma read:

Actress Amanda Barrie takes a sentimental journey to Coronation Street tonight.

Although she now lives in London, Amanda comes from Manchester and made her first stage appearance there.

Amanda will be a regular in the Manchester-based Coronation Street (ITV 7.30) for a short spell.

She plays Alma Sedgewick, wife of the owner of Jim's Cafe, who has to do the cooking now that Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) has been sacked.

Amanda says: "We used real food and I ended up feeding anyone in the cast or film crew who felt peckish."

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