Friday, 24 December 2010

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Here's Curly Watts, Terry Duckworth and Kevin Webster (with '80s 'tache and bouffant mullet) having a ripping Rovers Christmas in 1985.

I'm signing off for the Christmas period (some of us are working, sadly!), but I'll be back very soon with all I've promised in previous posts and more about bay windows, Phyllis's love for Percy, Bobby the cat, Annie's glorious pretensions, Alf's completely un-destroyed Corner Shop and anything else that might be of interest to fans of old Corrie.

Thanks to everybody who drops in here and for all the e-mails and comments. To all those celebrating, I wish you a very happy Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Ida Barlow, Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner And More About The Bay Windows...

Sky Clearbrook has been in touch again about the issue of bay windows in early Corrie. Were they joined in pairs (apart from Albert's) or single? We know that originally they were joined - see here. But Sky has sent the screen cap of Ida Barlow's 1961 funeral to illustrate the point he is making.

I know it doesn't conclusively prove my point (I'll have to trawl through some of those old episodes to source some screen grabs), but I just know there some examples to support my argument. I believe this funeral scene is indoors - the cobbles and pavement are painted on the studio floor by the looks of it. Having said that, the fact they've got it raining in this scene is a harder one to explain away, but either they're pouring water indoors or they're super-imposing another piece of film with rain!

Fascinating, Sky! And the pillar box looks wet, doesn't it? I suppose the set was joggled around at times in the early days, but at the time of Ena and Elsie's classic poison pen confrontation in 1961, the bay windows were still joined, as they were on 9 December 1960 for the very first episode (although establishing shots, in reality Archie Street, showed single bays). Albert's disappearing bay window I think occurred at some point during the first thirteen episodes, in a scene involving Harry Hewitt and Concepta Riley. There suddenly seemed to be an alley beside the Rovers!

See Ena, Elsie and the 1961 joined bay windows below in a classic clip from YouTube.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Coronation Street - Joined Up Bay Windows In 1960...

Recently we featured this lovely drawing by the Street's original designer, Denis Parkin, which featured on the Street cast's Christmas card in 1961. The pic shows the Street, complete with Corner Shop, the Glad Tidings Mission Hall and Elliston's Raincoat Factory. In the original blog post I wrote:

Note that the bay windows in this early sketch are not joined together in pairs, and echo the architecture of Archie Street, which provided the rough template for the Street's terrace. The reason that the windows were joined in the show was because of lack of space on the original exterior set, which was built in the studio.

Sky Clearbrook, an old and valued friend of this blog, has written:

Andy, this is a superb find. Nice to get a glimpse of both sides of the street - especially the walls of the factory.

Full bay windows were a feature of the early version of the indoor set (eg as seen at Ida Barlow's funeral cortege). I think this version of the set was condensed to form joined windows some time in 1962.

Great to hear from you, Sky - I've missed ya! Actually, photographs of the original Street set before the first scene was shot in 1960 show that the windows were joined from the very first. There's one of these in HV Kershaw's book, "The Street Where I Live", taken whilst the little girls in the very first scene outside the Corner Shop were receiving last minute instructions (see below). I think that Ida's funeral scene was a piece of location filming - perhaps in Archie Street. All the best for Christmas and 2011, matey, keep in touch!

Caption from HV Kershaw's book, "The Street Where I Live" (1981): A historic photograph: three little girls receive their last instructions from the floor manager before Coronation Street's very first shot.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Hilda Ogden And Eddie Yeats - Painful Carols In 1981...

Much-loved Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) had TV reviewer Hilary Kingsley pleading for mercy in December 1981:

I know Jean Alexander's Hilda Ogden is one of TV's great institutions. But please, Coronation Street scriptwriters, don't let her sing. My eardrums are only just recovering from her carol duet with Eddie on Wednesday.

Personally, we thought it were lovely, chuck.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

1982: "At Last We Had A Real Street"

Daily Mirror, 22/2/1982 - Hilda (Jean Alexander) takes a look at Number 13 as work on the new exterior set progresses.

The 5th of May 1982 saw the Queen visiting the new exterior set of Coronation Street with the Duke of Edinburgh. Work had begun on the set in the November of 1981, and the new set was an impressive sight to behold - making the old exterior facade look positively ridiculous.

An invitation to the 1982 Royal tour of the new Coronation Street exterior set for Peter Tonkinson, story-line writer.

Here's how HV Kershaw, the man who oversaw the building of the old exterior brick facade in late 1969, wrote about the 1982 innovation in his book, The Street Where I Live (1985 edition):

Construction took 49,000 old bricks and 6,500 roof slates, reclaimed from demolition sites in South East Lancashire. The viaduct needed a further 29,000 bricks and to provide an authentic finish special black mortar had been used, mixed to the original Victorian specification using an ash ingredient. TV aerials and chimneys sprouted where none had been before. At last we had a real street.

The Queen and Prince Phillip stroll the famous cobbles.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Speak Easy - December

Bright and breezy, free and easy - that's Speak Easy - here your voice can be heard!

Kamil writes:

Although you say you don't watch Corrie these days, you must have seen the tram crash scenes. This is definitely the least sycophantic of Corrie sites, but what was your very favorite 50th anniversary moment?

I'm afraid I don't really have one, Kamil! I have seen the tram crash and it's not my cup of tea at all, it's all down to personal taste, and I was frankly startled by reading some of the comments on an on-line forum about the episode. "Hammer time!" (remember the song?) wrote one avid viewer as the episode progressed and came to violent scenes at Number 5 involving a hammer.

My very favourite recent Corrie-related scene was in East Street, the Children In Need Coronation Street Meets EastEnders special, in which Gail indulged in an unusual "keeping up with the Joneses" scenario with an EastEnders character, basically trying to outdo her with various OTT events from her life. Helen Worth was simply brilliant in that!

Tara asks:

Why did Maurice Jones decide to rebuild the other side of the Street in 1989? The Street looked like a gloomy hole back then, and surely nobody would want to buy smart new houses there? Imagine sitting looking at the Duckies' stone cladding as you supped your Earl Grey!

The idea came about because new Executive Producer David Liddiment had seen that such developments were happening in reality in the late 1980s - new houses, shops and industrial units being built alongside older developments.

The character Maurice Jones was a builder, a businessman, and he saw an excellent opportunity to redevelop a site occupied by a small factory and ailing community centre.

Behind the scenes, the new development also fitted in well with the serial increasing its output to three episodes per week, bringing new locations and characters to the show, and drawing in other featured characters who did not actually live in the Street.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fond Farewell To The Corner Shop

So, the Corner Shop is no more. Destroyed by a tram in the Coronation Street 50th anniversary week episodes.

It all seems rather sad to me - after all, it was at the Corner Shop that the show's first scenes were set in 1960, with Elsie Lappin (Maudie Edwards) handing over the establishment to Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge).

And I've sat through many enjoyable episodes featuring the shop.

When I was a kid, I actually wanted to run the place myself!

The Corner Shop used to be on a par with The Rovers Return, you thought of Coronation Street, and those two locations immediately sprang to mind. But over the years, more businesses have become a regular part of the story-lines, and the Corner Shop has been sidelined.

Still a shame to see its end, though.

My favourite Corner Shop era was the 1980s. Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley) inherited the shop when his wife, Renee (Madge Hindle) died in a road accident in 1980. Poor Alf was utterly bereft, but over a year later a certain Miss Audrey Potter (Sue Nicholls) turned his head slightly. And so it was in late 1981 that Alf finally had Renee's name painted out on the shop sign and replaced with his own.

In 1980, Alf had taken on Dierdre Langton (Anne Kirkbride) as his assistant at the shop, and she lived in the shop flat with her daughter, Tracy, until her marriage to Ken Barlow (William Roache) in 1981.

In 1985, Alf wed Audrey, and the scene was set for many years of fun - Alf being a cautious stick-in-the-mud, Audrey a flighty money-waster.

Alf's reign as Corner Shop proprietor, beginning in the summer of 1980, gave the show some stability during what turned out to be a turbulent decade. And he was completely dedicated to the place. In 1985, he proudly presided over its expansion and modernisation into Alf's Mini Market - a trendy new name, although, emblazioned across the main sign, were, of course, the words CORNER SHOP.

Audrey never really understood Alf's addiction to the shop. But Alf declared that shops had souls. He was well stirred-up in 1988, when Gail Tilsley (Helen Worth) started a sandwich round at Jim's Cafe in Rosamund Street and threatened his barm cake trade.

Audrey told Alf that barm cakes were really not in keeping with a modern mini market, but Alf declared that Tommy Foyle had first produced them there during the First World War, and they were part of the soul of the place!

The barm cake trade continued.

When Alf suffered a heart attack in 1987, he couldn't wait to get back to the Shop afterwards. Audrey told him to rest and wait - the Corner Shop would still be there long after they'd both shaken off their mortal coils.

Bryan Mosley - dependable Alf Roberts of the Corner Shop.

Praise for Alf - from the TV Times, 27 September - 3 October 1986:

Alf's got it right

Grumbling may be one of the characteristics of Coronation Street's Alf Roberts, played by Bryan Mosley, but his corner store is top-of-the-shops for service according to a recent national survey.

A shopfitting group's study says Alf has got it just right with his sense of service, and many other grocers in the North of England follow his example.

With Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) rampant and Audrey at her height, Alf found much to peturb him at the Corner Shop in the '80s, but it all made for great entertainment, and fond memories of one of Corrie's original main locations.

Times change...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Coronation Street - 25th Anniversary

Different days - 1985: Bet Lynch and Betty Turpin were barmaids at The Rovers, Phyllis Pearce was after Percy Sugden, and Alf Roberts was in sole charge of the Corner Shop - until he married awful Aud!
With the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street now the talk of the town, we thought it would be nice to delve into past anniversaries - like the 25th, in 1985.

The card pictured above was a limited edition, produced to celebrate the anniversary, sent only to a very fortunate few, and contained an invitation:

Denis Forman and David Plowright invite


To Drink A Toast To Coronation Street on the occasion of their 25th birthday.

Friday 6 December
Stage One
5.30 pm to 7.30 pm

Fireworks 7.15 pm

The occasion was also celebrated with an anniversary dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London, on Saturday 14 December.

Eee, it were right posh. Did you know that the booze included Sancerre, Caves de la Boule Blanche 1984?

Mind you, I prefer a nice pint of Newton and Ridley's meself...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

1961: Early Denis Parkin Coronation Street Sketch

This wonderful sketch by Denis Parkin, Coronation Street's original designer, featured on the show's 1961 Christmas card, which was also designed by Mr Parkin.

Note that the bay windows in this early sketch are not joined together in pairs, and echo the architecture of Archie Street, which provided the rough template for the Street's terrace. The reason that the windows were joined in the show was because of lack of space on the original exterior set, which was built in the studio.

Here we see No's 11 and 13, the Corner Shop, the viaduct, part of the Glad Tidings Mission Hall (including Ena Sharples' vestry), and Elliston's Raincoat Factory.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Alfred Roberts Corner Shop Mug - Date?

Drake asks:

Can you date the Coronation Street mug I recently bought on-line? It's at least twenty-years-old I believe and shows the Corner Shop, the sign over it reading "ALFRED ROBERTS".

I had one of those mugs, Drake - they dated from the mid-1980s and I believe were sold into the early 1990s. I seem to recollect seeing them on the Granada Studios Tour. There were two mugs, The Rovers Return and The Corner Shop. I had both circa 1985.

The image of the Corner Shop depicts the establishment in the early-to-mid 1980s: Alf Roberts had his deceased wife Renee's name painted out on the shop sign, replacing it with his own, in late 1981 - over a year after her death in 1980. The shop looked like the image carried on the mug from late 1981 until 1985, when a grand transformation took place and the shop became a mini market.

Woe to the Corner Shop - destroyed in 2010 by a tumbling tram to celebrate the 50th anniversary.


But there were many happy days there in more gentle soap times and the mug is a charming piece of '80s Corrie nostalgia, dating from the days that Alf Roberts revelled in being Mr Green the Grocer.

And, as he stated in 1988, he actually believed that the Corner Shop had a soul!

If so, perhaps it will make it to Corrie heaven?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Coronation Street Corner Shop Tram Horror And The Famous 1988 Collision...

Phyllis Pearce (Jill Summers), clutching her Tate & Lyle, gives Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) a right roasting outside the Corner Shop!

Lucy writes:

I've been well stirred-up by the photographs of Corrie's 50th anniversary viaduct catastrophe... admit - it the Corner Shop never saw such drama in the 1980s!

Well, perhaps not. But it did see drama - the terrible confrontation between Phyllis Pearce and Emily Bishop just outside it for instance. With kind-hearted Emily giving a home to Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington), Phyllis went to war - accusing Emily of being after Percy's body!

This was intense - and in fact absolutely searing - drama, which, of course, had many of us on the edge of our seats.

As for seeing more drama during the 50th anniversary shows, I don't think the Corner Shop will see that much. Isn't it quickly wiped out by a tram?

Friday, 26 November 2010

When Was Mark Eden Wally Randle? Answer: 1981 - And No, You're Not Going Bonkers!

Wally Randle in 1981? No, you crate egg, it's Alan Bradley in 1988!

Speaking as somebody who can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, I was set in a spin by an e-mail today:

Claire writes:

When exactly was Mark Eden Wally Randle in Coronation Street? A Manchester Evening News article states he was Elsie's love interest in 1974, and Mark himself indicates 1979 in his autobiography, yet I have all the Granada Plus repeats and it's 1981! Elsie was not even in the Street in 1974 - Pat Phoenix took a break from 1973-1976. Am I going bonkers?!!!!

No, you're not, Claire - Mark Eden was Wally Randle in 1981. He appeared from February to April of that year. I believe he landed the role in late 1980. Elsie saw Wally in a romantic light, Wally didn't see Elsie in the same way at all, and away he went.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Grape Street Set - Why Was It Re-Built In Brick?

The old brick-built facade in the early 1980s. How can I date this? Because the new front door at No 3, fitted in 1980, is in place!

Andrew writes:

I've just read on Corriepedia that the original wood and lath exterior set which was erected on the Grape Street lot in 1968 was rebuilt in brick in 1969 possibly because of the advent of colour TV showing up the fake bricks. Is this merely supposition? I always thought that HV Kershaw wanted it rebuilt in brick so that it would be more hardy?

You are probably better off contacting the "Corriepedia" people, Andrew, but according to all the resources I have at my disposal (including Mr Kershaw's 1981 book, The Street Where I Live), HV Kershaw was worried by the effects of a single winter on the original structure and asked for money to rebuild it in brick.

The original outdoor Street terrace set made its final appearance on-screen around early November 1969 - in an episode that would have been recorded in the October. The building of the new set then took place, in time to avoid the worst of the winter weather.

I have never read that the impact of colour on the Street set had any bearing on the decision to rebuild the terrace facade. Mr Kershaw's concern seemed to be simply that it would withstand the elements. As he was in charge at the time, and left records of his concerns, I go with them.

In fact, I can heartily recommend The Street Where I Live (1981 - updated edition published 1985). It's a fabulous insight into the first twenty-five years of The Street by a man who was there from the start.

A totally engrossing read!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Did Tony Warren Plan To Blow Up Coronation Street?

Percy Sugden: "This street is nothing but an eyesore, Councillor Roberts - it should've been blown up in 1960!"

Alf Roberts: "Nay, Mr Sugden, there's more bulldozers than explosions round 'ere. Now, if we were to hire a Tardis and go forward twenty-three years, well, I wouldn't want to be standing here..."

Katie writes:

Just read in the Sun that Tony Warren wanted Coronation Street blown up after 13 episodes. As Daran Little, he of the fevered imagination, said this, and I don't trust him - although he's hailed at the ultimate Corrie expert - I thought I'd ask for second, third and fourth opinions!

I've certainly read, several times in the '70s and '80s, that the Street had a demolition story-line built in as a possible early ending, but never that Tony Warren wanted it blown up or to only run to thirteen episodes!

In 1985, Tony Warren wrote in the book Coronation Street 25 Years:

"I was to go on writing to episode twelve, and plan a possible bulldozing of the Street for what might prove to be a final thirteenth episode."

I took it from that that the demolition story-line would simply have reflected the trend to pull down old terraces and build high rise blocks, and that Granada was providing itself with a get-out route should the show prove to be a disaster.

Do note that what Daran Little actually said (according to the Sun) was:

"His [Tony Warren's] vision was that, on the 13th episode, the Street would blow up, or something like that, and it would end."

What Tony Warren now has to say on the subject, I've no idea!

Only he knows what only he knows...

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Speak Easy 5

Bright and breezy, free and easy - that's Speak Easy - here your voice can be heard!

Gary writes:

What do you make of the North/South rivalry between Coronation Street fans and EastEnders fans? Also, I read in a Coronation Street book that the London-based Press immediately got behind EastEnders in 1985, predicting that it would sweep Corrie under the carpet!

Hmmm... well, there's certainly no evidence of that in the newspapers I have from 1985, Gary!
In fact, Sun newspaper TV writer Charles Catchpole actually took a swipe at Midlands-based soap Crossroads when he wrote his review of the first EastEnders episode!

Coronation Street was, and is, very much of the North of England, very much of Lancashire, but the characters were, and I suppose are, universal. We working class folk all had Elsie Tanners, Len Faircloughs and Mrs Sharples living in our localities, and that was why it succeded. That's what made it complete and utter magic way beyond county borders.

The North/South rivalry "thing" was not something I ever encountered in my Street fan days, and as there's so much claptrap written on the internet, so much juvenile baiting, it's not something I can take seriously. Certain recent books on Street history also puzzle me when it comes to that point. England is a tiny country on a tiny island. The fact that Coronation Street was - and is - a hit across that country - and also in the neighbouring countries of the UK - and abroad, is something to be celebrated.

I'm from the East of England and I adored the show, wrote to Producer Bill Podmore and members of the cast many times in the mid-to-late 1970s, and it helped me through some pretty bad times when I was a child and into my early teens.

From the old lady from Kent who lives next door to me and has watched The Street from the beginning, only ever missing about twelve episodes in all that time, to my Glaswegian uncle-in-law, who was so dedicated to Bet Lynch/Gilroy it became a family joke, The Street is a hit. A young Polish man I work with, who only arrived here a few years ago, is absolutely hooked, and in fact I know people of many different origins who like the show.

As I said, Coronation Street is very much of the North of England. But its characters are recognisable to many different people, simply because they are people - and that's why its appeal is so wide!

And building up petty rivalry and bitchery based on location is not something I am familiar with, nor can have any truck with.

Life's too short.

Lorraine asks:

Could you update this blog more often? I'd like to see more regular stuff. I'm particularly looking forward to the continuation of your screen grab partition cubes, dealing with individual years in the Street's history.

I'm really glad you like the blog, Lorraine - and thanks for saying so!

I don't have a huge amount of time, and I'm a one-man-show here, so that's why updates are irregular. I am trying to update as frequently as possible, though.

In the pipeline, I have more of the "cubes" you mention, a look at early Street architecture as drawn by the original designer, Denis Parkin, a peep at an architectural quirk at the Ogdens', more Sadistic '60s, Savage '70s and Evil '80s, more cliffhanger quizzes, and a look at how the Daily Mirror celebrated the Street's 20th anniversary in 1980.

Please keep popping in.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

31 Years Minus 1 - Why Didn't Jack Duckworth Appear In 1980?

Jack and Vera Duckworth brought a touch of glamour to the Street with their stone cladding in 1989. Well, Vera thought so.

Lilian writes:

I've read so many tributes to Jack Duckworth and William Tarmey lately - all richly deserved because he truly was a Street legend. But some of the tributes say things like: "He's been a massive part of the Street for 31 years..." - and so on. Of course, those of us who do our research (often accused of being "pedantic" by those who don't and then get caught out) know that Jack first appeared in two episodes in late 1979, then disappeared until 1981, when he became a semi-regular. So, what happened to him in 1980?

He was mentioned occasionally, Lilian, but the production team simply hadn't decided to make Jack a full-blown character. Vera was the Duckworth in Coronation Street, had been for years - and she didn't even live there! The idea of bringing Jack in for occasional story-lines in 1981 was inspired, and the idea of making him a regular in 1983, by moving the Duckworths into the Street, was even more so.

Norris Cole, But Not Norris Cole Quiz Question...

Flaming Nora! It looks like Norris Cole has stumbled into a highly dramatic situation here!

But, of course, although the man on the right is Malcolm Hebden, now the lovely Norris, he wasn't Norris then. It was a different show and Mr Hebden was playing a very different character.

Can you name the show and the character Mr Hebden played?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

1987 - Part One!

1987! This was the climactic year when the 1980s sealed their fate as being a one Prime Minister decade by electing Margaret Thatcher for a third term, and in Coronation Street the subject of women in politics was also on the agenda...

Ken Barlow (William Roache) had hoped to stand for the local council, but his position on The Weatherfield Recorder put paid to that when his boss raised objections. Ken contemplated chucking the job in and going ahead anyway, but decided he must back down, being a man with responsibilities.

Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) had already fallen out with Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley), the existing local Independent councillor, and her boss at the Corner Shop, over matters political. This had resulted in her walking out on the job as Alf's assistant at the shop, which she had held since 1980.

And the idea was then born... if Ken couldn't stand for the local council, why shouldn't Deirdre?

And so she did.

Enlisting the help of Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) and Susan Baldwin (Wendy Jane Walker), Deirdre sallied boldly forth.

Sally dropped out when she stepped into Deirdre's shoes at the Corner Shop. She couldn't very well campaign against her new boss. Deirdre totally approved.

Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow) complimented Sally on her approach to work at the shop, and Sally was thrilled.

Having heard there was a flat above the shop, Sally asked Alf if she and Kevin (Michael Le Vell) could rent it, but Alf said no - it was being used as a store room.

Sally sought the aid of her current landlady, Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander), asking her to tell Alf that she and Kevin would shortly be moving away from the district. Alf, dreading finding a replacement during his busy campaigning period, gave in - and Kev and Sal moved into the shop flat.

When a local youngster was run over at a local accident black spot, where Deirdre was campaigning for a pedestrian crossing, her election campaign really took off. Ken used The Recorder to report the story, complete with a photograph of Deirdre and the unlucky youngster.

Deirdre won the election.

She celebrated her victory with a party at The Rovers, where she was hoisted by Ken and Pete Jackson (Ian Mercer) and paraded around the pub, whilst her supporters sang She's A Lassie From Lancashire around the piano.

Alf and Audrey (Sue Nicholls) had attended the party, at Audrey's insistence - she didn't want the neighbours thinking they were hiding away, crushed by defeat.

Alf, feeling unwell, left early.

And, alone at No 11, he collapsed with a heart attack.

Audrey found him on the floor when she returned from the party.

She was terrified. As Alf was stretchered into the ambulance, she said: "Please God let him be all right... just let him be all right..."

A crowd of onlookers had gathered in the dark street. Hilda was there, of course.

"What's happened?" asked Sally Webster.

"It's Alf Roberts," Hilda sucked in her breath. "It doesn't look good to me!"

"That's it, 'ilda, let's all look on the bright side, eh?!" said Betty Turpin (Betty Driver), scathingly.

Deidre was devastated - blaming herself for Alf's condition. If only she hadn't stood against him in the election.

With some changes to his diet and a decrease in stress levels, Alf was expected to make a full recovery, but Audrey still let Deirdre have it, both barrels, when she called at the Corner Shop to see if there was anything she could do to help:

"Getting 'im out so you could go in! Well, all I can say, lovey, is enjoy it while you can, because do you know life has a very funny way of comin' round - and one of these days somebody might just come along and do the same to you!"

When Audrey returned to the Street with Alf in a taxi, Deirdre was just leaving on her first official council function.

She greeted Alf warmly, and Alf returned the warmth, telling her he felt fine.

"You want to get 'im inside, he looks worn out!" said Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) to Audrey.

Nobody could be more insensitive than well-meaning Percy, who then said of Deirdre and Ken:

"They're off to the mayor making, you know, where they elect the new mayor, then they decide who's going to be on various committees. Then they 'ave a slap-up lunch."

Talk about rubbing Alf's nose in it!

Alf's smile faded: "Yeah, well, I do know what a mayor making is. I've been to one or two in me time, Percy!"

Being at home at No 11, recuperating, got on Alf's nerves, particularly as Percy elected himself chief visitor. Deirdre also visited, and although Audrey was still frosty, Alf gave her advice about her position on the council and seemed to have accepted the situation.

But he wanted to get back to the Corner Shop. How he longed to get back to the Corner Shop! Audrey told him to stop worrying about the place, he'd be back there soon enough and anyway it would be there long after they'd both departed this mortal coil.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rita And The Duckworths - Everybody Needs Good Neighbours...

Florin asks:

How did Rita get on with the Duckworths? She must have been so disappointed when they moved in next door to her posh new house at number 7!

I think a groan ran through the entire street when Jack and Vera Duckworth (Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn) moved into No 9 in 1983, Florin.

They weren't anybody's idea of ideal neighbours.

Add to them shifty Terry (Nigel Pivaro), and you can appreciate that nobody was welcoming the Duckworths with open arms - apart from us viewers!

But Rita (Barbara Knox) seemed to get on with them fine, considering they were living in such close proximity. Well, as you can see above, she got on with them fine most of the time!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Why Only Three Decades?

After Alan Bradley walks out on her, an emotional Rita Fairclough pours her heart out to Bet Gilroy about how lonely and empty her life feels without him. Bet comments: "And there's norra lot on telly, is there?" Meanwhile, Vera Duckworth gets fruity with her Jack. Poor Jack is not happy!

An e-mail from Mrs Campbell:

I'm a recent convert to this site, and I enjoy it. But I wonder why you confine it to the first three decades? I'm not complaining, because I started watching Corrie in the early 1960s and I've never stopped, so this site brings back memories and provides great insights, but I'd love to see the events of the 1990s and 0's given your very distinctive treatment!

Thanks for writing, Mrs Campbell. I write about the first three decades because they interest me most, and also because I no longer watch soaps! The "big time strife" story-lines of today's soaps don't appeal to me. My favourite era of The Street originally was 1976-1984, but I've since discovered the '60s through various DVD releases and love that decade in the show! I stopped watching the show on a regular basis in 1983, simply because I was busy and with the original characters departing, apart from Ken Barlow, felt it would no longer greatly appeal to me.

Recently I've been watching hundreds of mid-to-late 1980s episodes, and the likes of Curly Watts, Phyllis Pearce, Terry Duckworth, Percy Sugden and Alec Gilroy - alongside Mavis, Rita and co - have absolutely delighted me. I'm astonished at how well the production team coped with the departure of so many of the old favourites.

This blog has been a little 1980s-centred recently simply because I am studying those episodes.

I didn't view the 1990s and 2000s episodes, and from what I've seen of them, after about 1992, they weren't really to my taste, so that's one reason I don't include them. The other is that thirty years is quite a wide time span to cover and keeps me very busy!

As I say, I don't watch soaps now, but I'm thrilled that The Street is about to make it to its 50th anniversary. It has always reflected viewers' tastes, always updated itself, and I daresay there'll come a time when the blockbuster explosions, murders, etc, are no longer in vogue and I'll return to watching it. It's like an old friend, and I hope it continues for at least another fifty years!

Friday, 5 November 2010

1988 - Part Two!

Some Corrie moments of 1988... click on the image to enlarge, then read the text below for the full story...

Back we go, back down the time tunnel to the decade of big hair, big shoulders and big trouble. Yep, we're talking 1980s, and as we land in The Street this time, we discover more events of 1988 via screen captures.

The wedding of Mavis Riley and Derek Wilton (Thelma Barlow and Peter Baldwin) had not happened in 1984. Both had had second thoughts on the day. But after Derek had proposed to Mavis through the Kabin letter box in 1988, a second try was on the cards. Derek decided to spend his stag night at The Rovers, where his "pals" decided to have some fun: Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) phoned the pub's private number from the payphone and Jack Duckworth (William Tarmey) called Derek to the phone, saying it was somebody called Victor.


Derek went to the phone and Martin, who had no idea what Victor Pendlebury sounded like, told Derek that Mavis had decided to marry him instead!

But Derek was not fooled. Returning to the bar, he said so:

"Victor Pendlebury has a voice once heard never forgotten. You find that with opinionated people. For another thing, Mavis would never desert me for him, never in a million years."

One thing was troubling Derek: Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) was paying him close attention. Was he...? Derek asked Jack, making a limp wristed gesture. Jack pointed out that Percy was always saying that his happiest days had been in the Army...

Derek was worried.

And after two pints and a brandy he was also extremely drunk.

Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) told Mavis about Derek's sorry state when she arrived at her hen night party, and Mavis sped round to The Rovers, tremendously concerned. But Derek was safely concealed in the back and Alec and Bet Gilroy (Roy Barraclough and Julie Goodyear) told Mavis that he'd gone home for an early night before the Big Day arrived.

Mavis's hen night went well, apart from a sozzled Vera unwittingly introducing the spectre of 1984 to the revels by singing There Was I Waiting At The Church.

Percy took Derek home in a taxi. "PLEASE DON'T LET HIM TAKE ME HOME!" wailed Derek, terrified of Percy's intentions. But if he had but known it, Percy was his guardian angel.

Our Mr Sugden had elected himself as the man who would make sure that Mavis was not let down a second time.

As Percy told Ken (William Roache), he'd been in charge of seeing that men went to the firing squad, and they'd gone to that wall smiling!

"Probably with relief!" Ken muttered to Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride), rather uncharitably.

Despite last minute doubts on Derek's part, Percy got him to the registry office. And at long last, Miss Mavis Riley became Mrs Mavis Wilton.

At Jim's Cafe, Gail Tilsley (Helen Worth) had employed Gina Seddon (Julie Foy) to help out as a waitress and to operate her new sandwich round. Gail had bought a butcher's bike for the enterprise. Gina was excited, seeing great promise in the venture if they expanded it: "We'll be a couple of yuppies in no time!" she told Gail.

When Alma Sedgewick (Amanda Barrie) called a halt to the venture, saying that she'd rather Gail concentrated solely on the cafe, Gail was not pleased and gave in her notice. She would operate the sandwich round independently with Gina. Brian (Christopher Quinten) was horrified, deciding that the venture was doomed to failure. Upwardly mobile Gail had a dream in which she could fly. And Sarah Louise could fly. And Nicky. But Brian would never be able to fly, never in a million years, she bitterly told her baby daughter.

Phyllis Pearce (Jill Summers) was horrified, fearing that Gail was making a bad decision which might leave her jobless, and also that changes at the cafe might affect her own little job.

Having played at being the big boss, Alma was severely shaken by Gail's decision to leave. She'd have to employ somebody else. How long would it take? Would she be stuck working at the cafe herself for a while?

She announced that the sandwich round could continue and gave into Gail's final demand that she should have a share of the profits.

So, it all ended happily.

Or did it?

Brian's failure to support Gail with her plans to set up on her own rankled with Gail.

And certainly did nothing for the Tilsleys' marriage.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Speak Easy 4

Back to The Speak Easy, where your views can be heard... Free and easy, bright and breezy, that's Speak Easy.

Janine writes:

I've been reading William Roache's book on 50 years of Coronation Street and he states that Ken and Mike disliked each other before the start of the Great Feud over Deirdre in 1983. Can you tell me about previous fall-outs between them?

Sorry, Janine, no. I have ALL the episodes from 1976 (before and including Mike's debut) until mid-1979 and there weren't any then. I've studied the episodes extensively, many times, and Mike and Ken did not exchange a single cross word. Perhaps they did in the early 1980s, pre-Deirdre drama? Certainly in 1983, at the time of the crisis, Ken made some very disparaging remarks about Mike! They were very different people. I've been reading William Roache's book, too - and I'm loving it!

It's so good to have Ken there - a character who spans ALL the years!

Debs writes:

I have received the Mark Eden book I won in your competition. Thank you so much. It's a smashing read and he has a lovely sense of humour!

Glad you're enjoying it - Alan Bradley is another Street legend! We remember Mark's first appearance in the show as Wally Randle in 1981. A brilliant actor. Viewing Alan's 1987 and 1988 "doings" recently has chilled us all over again and, of course, the worst is yet to come. We're looking forward to tucking into 1989!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

1988 - Trouble All Round...

Eee, 1988 on't Street... Do you remember, chuck? Derek Wilton (Peter Baldwin) and Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow) made it to the altar - oops, I mean registry office - second time lucky - though Mavis wasn't impressed by a couple of smutty comments from Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) at the Corner Shop when she and Derek returned from honeymoon. Marriage was not just about that sort of thing, she lectured Sally.

Quite right too...

Meanwhile, Rovers barmaid Gloria Todd (Sue Jenkins) had been feeling her biological clock ticking for some time. So, when she fell for a fella, perhaps marriage - maybe even kids - lay around the corner? Trouble was, the fella belonged to Rovers cleaner Sandra Stubbs (Sally Watts). Gloria couldn't help herself, although she felt terrible. She began seeing Sandra's fella and they really seemed to "click". Gloria was horrified when Sandra turned up for a natter at her flat one evening when she was entertaining Mr Wonderful.

Finally, she confessed all to Sandra and got a pint of beer in her face for her trouble. Gloria left the Rovers after the incident.

Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) had left Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) and was living in a bedsit away from the Street. Rita was completely besotted with the man, and begged him to return to No 7. Alan refused, but changed his mind when the bank refused to finance his business's move to new premises. Alan returned to Rita and daughter Jenny (Sally Anne Matthews) for his own benefit - with a plan in mind. He also secretly continued to see Carole Burns (Irene Skillington).

Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro) made Vera (Liz Dawn) so proud when he began work for Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). His work was mainly chauffeuring (Mike had been banned from driving), but there were prospects. When Terry took a married girlfriend out in Mike's Jag and her husband sprayed "STAY AWAY FROM MY WIFE" down one side, the writing was on the wall as far as Terry's career at Baldwin's Casuals was concerned. Vera was distraught. Terry left the Street just before Christmas, feeling that he no longer had much in common with old pals like Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and that it was time to move on again.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Connie Clayton - Could She Make Perfect Pastry?

Clayton vs Duckworth: Vera (Liz Dawn), Jack (William Tarmey), Connie (Susan Brown) and Harry (Johnny Leeze) air their views in public. Flamin' Nora! What was that street comin' to?!

First it was Victor Pendlebury, now it's Connie Clayton - another obscure character from Coronation Street's past that has aroused great interest (well, ten e-mails!) here at Back On The Street.

Here's a few snippets from those e-mails...

Jane writes:

I remember Connie Clayton actually made it on to the legendary Black Type letters pages in Smash Hits in 1985! A reader expressed interest in the character, and Black Type pooh-poohed it, asking how much we actually KNEW about her? Was she qualified to look after Nicky Tilsley? Could she make perfect pastry?

LOL, Jane! Black Type is an '80s legend. I'm not surprised he covered the crucial topic of Mrs Clayton on his pages.

The MC Dent writes:

The Claytons struck a chord with me because they WERE so mundane and, as you wrote, all the conflict came from outside. Connie was very mumsy. I would of loved it if they had stayed.

Yes, it would have been fun, I think!

Keith asks:

Have you any more Clayton piccies? I was 9 in 1985 and they're one of my early TV memories. I liked Connie and Sue in particular.

The only other Clayton pics I have are featured in this post, Keith.

And finally, Sally says:

I know poor old Connie was miserable at Number 11, especially after the Duckworths kicked off. I think she had a particularly bad time, with Andrea letting the family down by getting pregnant like that and then Vera's dress. I think Connie felt it most of all. Do you know where the Claytons went when they flitted from the Street?

They went to live with Connie's mother for a while, Sally.

We've been watching episodes from 1988, featuring Alan Bradley's affair with Mrs Burns, played by Irene Skillington, and we can't help thinking about Ms Skillington becoming Mrs Clayton later.

And on that note, we'll close the book on the Claytons for a while.

But I'm sure we'll be featuring them again!

Vera thought that her new dress would make "Joan Collins look like a lollipop lady!"

Monday, 1 November 2010

Alan Bradley - The Cold, Dark Centre...

We've been watching episodes of Corrie from 1987 and 1988 and we must say we're bowled over by Mark Eden's performance as Alan Bradley. On the surface, Alan seemed like your average everyday bloke - a bit of a hot temper, but OK.

But there was a cold, dark void where Mr Bradley's heart should have been.

We found ourselves shuddering, watching him gently manipulating Rita into helping him financially with his plan to buy Brian Tilsley's garage in 1987, and his affair with Mrs Burns in 1988, resulting in his walking out on Rita and his daughter, Jenny.

He only returned to No 7 when finance for his business venture was not forthcoming from the bank, and then he put a new plan into action...

This was a slow build-up story-line, echoing real life. It lacked the occasional pantomime feel and outlandishness of the "Killer Corrie" Richard Hillman era. Corrie was more rooted in reality back then.

Alan Bradley was simply frightening.

He had his own logic.

And, at the end of the day, no heart at all.

Mark Eden's life story - Who's Going To Look At You? - is published today and we'll certainly be having a read. Insights into the life of the actor who brought Mr Bradley to life should be absolutely fascinating!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Coronation Street 25th Anniversary Celebration...

Eee, with Corrie's 50th anniversary coming up, I've been thinking back. And it doesn't seem possible. Was the photograph shown above really taken twenty-five years ago?

1985... seems more like ten years ago to me!

In those days, the Street didn't celebrate major anniversaries with bloodbath tram crashes, we'd have thought it ghoulish and odd.

The 25th anniversary photograph above seems to have been specially posed rather earlier in the year than December - probably for Jack Tinker's Coronation Street book.

Note that the Claytons are present - and they left the Street in August!

I love the cutting and pasting of various people in the photo above - and in those days it was literally cut and paste, a cut-out from a photograph and a dab of Pritt Stick!

So, who were the Corrie movers and shakers of twenty-five years ago?

Back row - from left to right: Ida Clough (Helene Palmer) was a machinist at Baldwin's factory and a good pal of Vera and Ivy's. She appeared from 1978 to 1988, and later re-emerged for another spell working for Baldwin. A glutton for punishment.

Next to Ida is Shirley Armitage (Lisa Lewis), the Street's first regular black character. Shirley arrived in 1983, another worker at Baldwin's Casuals. She later lived with Curly Watts in the flat above the Corner Shop, and left the Street in 1989.

Up next is Phyllis Pearce (Jill Summers). Originally seen in 1982, visiting her grandson, Craig, and nagging Chalkie Whiteley, Phyllis developed into a rather more sympathetic character. She was, as she said, a "hot blooded woman", and desired nothing more than marriage to Percy Sugden. Phyllis was last seen in 1996.

Sue Clayton (Jane Hazlegrove) is next. One of the short-lived Clayton family, Sue arrived in 1985, left school, and started work in a bakery. The family then left the Street.

Sue's sister, Andrea (Caroline O'Neill), was studying for her A Levels and seeing naughty Terry Duckworth behind her parents' backs. Soon she was up the duff.

Connie Clayton (Susan Brown), mother of Andrea and Sue, was a dressmaker and the front room at No 11 was converted into a workroom for her. Connie never really liked No 11, and liked it even less when she fell out with her gobby neighbours, the Duckworths. Having discovered that Andrea was expecting a little Duckworth, Connie beat a hasty retreat from the district with the rest of her family.

Harry Clayton (Johnny Leeze), daddy of the Clayton brood, was a milkman and played trombone with a local band called Gregg Gordon And The Bluetones.

Middle row: Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) first worked at The Rovers Return in 1969. Widowed in the 1970s, Betty became the hotpot queen of The Rovers in the 1980s when her speciality dish became a regular on the menu as the pub grub on offer was expanded. Betty's still in the Street today.

Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) first appeared in the Street as a warehouse worker in 1974. She became a resident in 1983, and horrified the neighbours with her great big gob. But dead common Vera, who could be oh so crafty in her on-going war with husband Jack, had a heart of gold. She died in 2008.

Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) first appeared very briefly in late November 1979, then disappeared until 1981, when he began popping into story-lines now and then. In 1983, Jack moved into No 9 with Vera and son Terry.

Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro) arrived on the scene in 1983 and soon made his mark on the Street, running a business called Cheap & Cheerful with Curly Watts, running off with his best mate's wife, and romancing a married woman in Mike Baldwin's Jag. Bad lad Terry first left the Street in 1987, but he's turned up since, several times.

Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell), the dependable young lad who worked as a garage mechanic for Brian Tilsley, first appeared in 1983. He married Sally Seddon in 1986. Poor Kev. He's still in the show today, having endured many traumas - some of the 1990s and 2000s stuff seeming so unlikely as to be completely daft. But then that's modern soap!

Norman "Curly" Watts (Kevin Kennedy) - a lovely, geeky, offbeat youth character, Curly first turned up in 1983 as a binman. He graduated to a position as assistant manager (trainee) at Bettabuys Supermarket in October 1989.

Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow), first appeared in 1971. In 1973, she became assistant to Rita at The Kabin. Mavis initially lived with her Auntie Edie. Her cousin, Ethel, who popped in now and then, was a right cow. When Auntie died, adorably twittery Mavis moved into the Kabin flat. She met Derek Wilton in 1976, almost married him in 1984, and finally did so in 1988. She also dallied briefly with one Victor Pendlebury in 1982/83 - and he declared his desire to marry her just before her wedding-that-wasn't to Derek in 1984. Mavis left after the death of Derek in 1997.

Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) was the crafty Londoner who livened up the Street no end from 1976 to 2006. Mike developed a long running feud with Ken Barlow in the 1980s.

Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) first appeared in the Street in 1966, a worker at Ellistons Raincoat Factory. She returned in 1970, and became a barmaid at The Rovers - although Annie Walker did think her rather common. In 1985, Bet took over The Rovers as manager. She married seedy Alec Gilroy in 1987, but that didn't last. Bet left the Street in 1994, but has since visited.

Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) arrived in 1964 with husband Stan and spent the next twenty-three years gossiping for England. She left in 1987.

Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) was the bossy, interfering know-it-all who arrived in the Street as Community Centre caretaker in 1983. Fighting off the advances of Phyllis Pearce and sticking his nose in everywhere, Percy was a bit of a nightmare neighbour. But he meant well. He left the Street in 1997.

Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) first appeared in 1961. A genteel spinister, Emily finally found happiness and marriage to Ernest Bishop in 1972. But happiness was not to last. Ernest was shot dead in a wages snatch at Baldwin's Casuals in early 1978. Emily lived on at No 3, enduring a bigamous marriage to Armold Swain, and, from 1988 onwards, Percy Sugden as a lodger. Emily is still in the programme today.

Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley) first appeared in Corrie in 1961, a pal of Frank Barlow's at the sorting office. Alf graduated to local councillor. His first wife died of cancer in the early 1970s, and he married Renee Bradshaw of the Street's Corner Shop in 1978. Alf inherited the shop in 1980, when Renee was killed in a road accident. He employed Deirdre Langton as his assistant and ran the shop happily until 1985, when he expanded it into a mini market and Audrey Potter became his lawful, awful wife. Alf died at the start of 1999.

Ken Barlow (William Roache) was there when Corrie first aired on 9 December 1960 - and he's still there today. His history is long and varied - including marriage to Valerie Tatlock and twins, marriage to Janet and her suicide, and marriage to Deirdre Langton. Ken was very close to his uncle-in-law, Albert Tatlock. Albert regarded Ken as true family, far more than his own daughter, Beattie Pearson, although he never said so!

Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) first appeared in 1972. She married Ray Langton in 1975 and the marriage broke up in 1978. Deirdre lived with Emily Bishop from 1979 to 1980, before becoming Alf's assistant at the Corner Shop and moving into the shop flat. In 1981, she married Ken Barlow. Deirdre, older but not much wiser, still lives in the Street today.

Gail Tilsley (Helen Worth) first appeared in 1974 and still appears today. Young Gail Potter met Brian Tilsley in 1978, married him in 1979, was divorced by him in 1986, and re-married him in 1988. Their second union was ended by rumblings of discontent and then his murder in 1989.

Brian Tilsley (Christopher Quinten) was a bit of beefcake in the Street from 1978 to 1989. It seemed a little odd as he turned up before gym workouts were popular with working class men, and Brian certainly never mentioned going to a gym in his early years. So we were left wondering where Brian got his muscles from. His job as a garage mechanic? Actor Chris Quinten, of course, worked out all the time, so that was the reason behind Brian's bulging biceps.

Ivy Tilsley (Lynne Perrie) had it very rough. The character first appeared in 1971 and moved into The Street in 1979. From then on, it was misery on a buttie as the 1980s devastated her family - making Ivy's husband Bert unemployed and then killing him off, making Ivy's son Brian's marriage to Gail as rocky as could be, and finally killing Brian off in a stabbing incident outside a nightclub. The '80s did bring Ivy two grandchildren - Nicky and Sarah Louise - and a new husband, one Don Brennan. But as the early '90s proved, he was no blessing either. Ivy left the Street in 1994.

Rita Fairclough (Barbara Knox) was an exotic dancer who first popped into the Street in 1964. Back on the scene in 1972, Rita was memorably romanced and married by Len Fairclough. She continued her career as nightclub singer Rita Littlewood on an occasional basis. In the early 1980s, Rita and Len became foster parents. Rita was devastated when Len was killed in a road accident in December 1983, and distraught to discover he'd been in the midst of an affair at the time. Surely romance with Alan Bradley, blossoming in 1986, would bring her some happiness?


The Tram Crashes Into 1980s Coronation Street...

"Mr Wobble" writes:

There's a pic of a tram crashing into Corrie Street that's quite rampant on the web. It's a cheap pic, but the street doesn't look like it does now. The tram is just superimposed. But do you know when the Corrie Street photo dates from?

I think this is the photograph you refer to, Mr Wobble.

It's easy to pinpoint the era: the mid-to-late 1980s. It could be any time from late 1986 to September 1989 when the factory was demolished in the story-line. Look at the clues!

The Corner Shop is Alf's Mini Market, so it's after 1985. The Rovers has its posh new sign lettering and "Rovers Return" windows, so its post-fire and rebuilding in 1986.

This ties in beautifully with an e-mail from Sue:

When were Baldwin's Factory and the Community Centre demolished in Coronation Street? I know it was 1989, but can you be more specific?

Well, there's the story-line and then there's the reality, Sue.

With filming taking place well in advance of episode screenings at the time, it seems that the factory and community centre would have bitten the dust in reality in August 1989, and work then commenced on the new exterior set buildings. In the story-line, the factory and community centre met their end in the episode transmitted on 20th September 1989.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

1983: Pat Phoenix

Sunday People, December, 1983: partying with Pat - spot the famous faces!

Elsie Tanner left Coronation Street very quietly on 4 January 1984. As she took a last stroll up the Street, her mind lurched back to the 1960s and confrontations with Ena Sharples, Annie Walker and son Dennis. Then she was whisked away in a taxi.

In reality, Pat Phoenix's decision to leave Coronation Street was anything but quiet, the whole nation was saddened, and behind the scenes Pat invited many of her Street cast pals to a big party to celebrate her sixtieth birthday and engagement to actor Anthony Booth.

Pat was looking forward to the Phoenix spreading its wings again and had even more reason to celebrate, as the Sunday People, December 4, 1983, revealed:

There's a special expression of happiness on the face of Pat Phoenix as she whoops it up at her joint sixtieth birthday and engagement party.

It's the look that says clearly, it's just great to be alive!

For six tormenting weeks Britain's most enduring sex symbol has lived in fear... of having cancer of the breast.

And it was only days before the star-spangled party thrown by her fiancé Anthony Booth that the Coronation Street legend learned she had been worrying needlessly.

Her doctor told her that the troublesome lump was only a fibroid.

"I've never been more relieved," said Pat, showing off her specially-designed ten-diamond engagement ring.

"When I found the lump I kept quiet and I didn't tell the doctor. I couldn't bear the thought of anybody messing about with me. At the same time I wanted to know what was wrong."

Eventually Pat, who is coming to the end of her 23-year career as the Street's colourful Elsie Tanner [Andy's note: less than 23 years in reality. Pat had also left the Street once previously and was absent from 1973 to 1976], confided in fiancé Tony. He helped convince her to go to her G.P.

"I asked the doctor for a straight answer and he said: 'Don't worry, it's not what you think.'

"All I needed was a course of tablets to dispel the lump. As he handed me the pills, the doctor added, 'And don't go and flush them down the toilet.'

"But I've been very good. It's wonderful to know I've nothing to worry about."

As the champagne corks popped at the party, in a Cheshire hotel, Pat told of her plans as a pensioner.

"Although I've collected my first perk, a concessionary bus pass - I deserve it after all the tax I've paid! - I'm not planning to slow down," she said.

"Tony and I will go on working and enjoying every minute of it until we drop.

"Life really begins at 60 - and I'm going to prove it."

Pat has theatre, TV and radio work lined up. She and live-in lover Tony are co-starring in a mystery-thriller at Eastbourne next summer.

"I still love life and enjoy being an actress," said Pat. "OK, I can't go to parties every night of the week then go into work, like I used to, but life is better in many other ways.

"It's taken Tony and me a long, long time to grow up and I'm not even sure we have done now.

"There's none of the daftness or silly pride between us that you have when you're younger.

"If we're having a row, one of us will say, 'Is this serious?' And usually we end up laughing."

Pat puts her youthful looks down to a zest for life. And she has been taking a yeast-based tonic three times daily for 16 years.

"Half the rest of the cast are on it now," she said.

"I don't diet, but I try to eat sensibly, and I swim."

Pat will be sad to leave her friends in the Street.

"But I haven't been too happy recently. Elsie is played out. She hasn't been getting the story lines and I've been feeling tired of her.

"I've had hundreds of letters from fans begging me to stay. One old dear even said she felt her own life was over. That saddened me."

Pat has also received a "come back" offer from Granada chairman Sir Denis Forman.

Shortly after she told the company she did not wish to renew her contract he invited her to tea.

"Sir Denis said the door was wide open for me to pop back from time to time," said Pat.

"He is a lovely person and it was a very nice thing for him to say. I suppose I could take up the offer if I wasn't working on something else.

"But for the present... I'm a bit of a gypsy and I've got to move on.

"The security of the Street is fine - but my happiness is more important."

In 1985, Pat said:

"Not bad for a pensioner, am I? And why not, I've got the best relationship I've ever had in my life, I'm doing all the work I want, earning all the money I'll ever need, and I'm enjoying everything I do."

We all know that tragedy was just around the corner, with a genuine diagnosis of cancer - lung cancer - in March 1986 and Pat's death in the September of that year, but I draw some crumbs of comfort from reading interviews with Pat before then, and the fact that she seemed to be enjoying life. I also draw comfort from the fact that her decision to leave the Street because she was dissatisfied with Elsie Tanner - the second time she had done so - had this time given her some happiness.

Friday, 29 October 2010

1985: The Claytons - A Week In The Life Of...

Connie Clayton: "Let's get this photo took, 'arry, I've got to get to't Co-op..."

Samantha has written:

I rated your post on't Claytons very highly. I was 5 in 1985 and I remember them and I loved them. How about writing some Corrie fan fiction, expanding on the Clayton theme?

Thanks for writing, Samantha. We don't do fan fiction here, mainly because I'm lousy at it, and the Claytons... well... I have very fond memories of them, but they weren't exactly thrilling were they?

Can you imagine a fan fic about them?


Dateline February 1985

Monday: Connie decided it was definitely a bacon-and-eggs-followed-by-hot-cereal morning that morning. There'd been a heavy frost and there were icicles hanging from the cludgie roof.

"I don't know," she said to Harry as he came in, "our Andrea were up till all hours studying last night. We'll 'ave to talk to 'er, 'arry."

"She's got a good brain in 'er 'ead," said Harry. "She'll be all right, love."

"Mmm," said Connie, doubtfully. "I've got to get on with Mrs Arbuckle's dress this morning. She wants it ready for her fortieth wedding anniversary do next week."

"Mrs Arbuckle? Do I know 'er?" asked Harry, sitting down to a plate of high cholesterol and tucking in with relish.

" 'Er out of Balaclava Terrace," said Connie. "You know 'er, 'arry - always on about her in-growing toe nails..."

I'd better stop writing this. I'm starting to enjoy it. I loved the Claytons, too, Samantha!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Mark Eden Book Competition - Our Lucky Winners!

Congratulations to Mr Greg Robertson and Ms D Preston, winners of our Mark Eden competition. Both will receive a copy of Mark's book, Who's Going To Look At You?, shortly after the publication date on 1 November.

The correct answers to the competition questions were:

1) Wally Randle

2) 1989

Many thanks to Troubador Publishing Ltd, for making the competition possible!

We've been watching Corrie episodes from 1988 featuring Mark Eden's brilliant portrayal of Alan Bradley, an apparently good man slowly turning out to be a thoroughly bad one, and will be looking at the character in-depth on 1 November, the book's publication date.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Why No McDonalds In The Blog Header Pics?

The terrible twosome - Andy and Steve McDonald (Nicholas Cochrane and Simon Gregson).

Steven writes:

I'm surprised that you have no pics of Steve and Andy on your blog header. The arrival of the McDonalds was one of the biggest events of the 1980s and led to lots of great things in the plot.

Sorry, Steven - I had limited space! Here's a screen grab of Andy and Steve in the Corner Shop in 1989 for you!

Albert Tatlock And Percy Sugden - How Alike Were They Really?

Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) interferes in 1987, Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth) enjoys a grumble in 1976.

I was having a good retro Street natter with a mate of mine a couple of weeks back, and he stated his opinion that Percy Sugden had simply been a replacement for Albert Tatlock and cut from exactly the same cloth. Furthermore, he believed that Eddie Yeats was simply a replacement for Jed Stone, Mavis Riley a copycat replacement for Miss Nugent upon her marriage to Ernest - and quite a lengthy list began to emerge of characters that he believed followed templates as originally laid down by the Street's early residents.

It's true to a degree, and this business of archetypal Coronation Street characters has been much discussed over the years. Also, people tend to be "types" in real life too, don't they?

But I think the notion of archetypal characters is sometimes overdone when discussing Corrie, and I'd like to use Albert Tatlock and Percy Sugden to illustrate my point.

How alike were they really?

Looked at broadly, very. Both were old soldiers, war veterans (Albert, First World War, Percy, Second). Both wore flat caps. Both could be difficult.

But Albert was miserable, slow moving - his manner morose. Percy was often horrifyingly cheerful, fast moving, bossy and dynamic.

Albert could be sensitive at times - some of the scenes he appeared in moved me to tears (remember the Monty Shawcross tribute and Albert's distress over Ken and Deirdre's matrimonial discord?). Percy was completely insensitive. He always meant well, but he had all the sensitivity of a bulldozer. Here was the man who regaled Alf Roberts with tales of men who had died of heart attacks shortly after Alf himself had suffered one!

Albert was not an inquisitive man. Percy jabbed his nose into other folks' business at each and every opportunity.

Albert kept quiet about his own brave acts during World War One. Percy's most famous line was: "When you've made gravy under shell fire, you can do anything!" Percy loved a bit of a brag.

Albert was noted for being mean with the pennies. This quality was never remarked upon in Percy.

Moving from character to circumstances, both Percy and Albert were lollipop men in their time, but Albert saw the job as simply a means to raise some extra cash. Percy saw it as a proud and noble public duty. A second career. Albert acted as assistant caretaker to Ena Sharples at the Community Centre for a time. Percy was the caretaker later. But, once again, Albert was simply bringing in some extra cash. Percy was saving the world before lunchtime.

Watching Percy in action in Coronation Street episodes from 1988 and 1989 recently, I am not reminded of Albert in the slightest - apart from the flat caps both characters wore!

I'm interested in how the "difficult" older male characters of the Street have evolved over the decades. Albert was tetchy, Percy interfering and overbearing, and the marvellous Norris Cole of the current day can be as tetchy as Albert and as interfering as Percy - whilst being very much a character in his own right.

Here's to the old men of The Street - from Albert to Percy, from Percy to Norris...

At Back On The Street, we love 'em all!