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!

1988: Vera Duckworth - Don't Close Your Eyes!

The Duckworths - Terry (Nigel Pivaro), Jack (William Tarmey) and Vera (Liz Dawn) - trouble brewing...

When Jack received a cheque for £600 in October 1988, his compensation for the car accident with his ever-loving wife, he was chuffed to little mint balls. This would need keeping very quiet. Then there'd be no other claims on the dosh from his family.

But sadly, Jack's dear son Terry had already seen the cheque.

Jack didn't have a bank account and was totally ignorant of the workings of banks. He was shocked to learn that Vera had a secret building society account. She was willing to cash the cheque for him.

But, of course, she expected a share in the spoils.

It was her right.

Jack wanted none of that sort of business.

He was planning to keep the lion's share of the money and indulge himself. Booze? Bookies? Birds? Yep, you guessed it.

Vera was furious and caused a terrible scene in The Rovers, prompting mine host Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough) to dock Jack's wages and send him home with Vera to sort things out in private.

Terry looked on as his parents slugged it out. It was a familiar sight. Finally Vera decided to "put the frighteners" on Jack:

"Till I get my share, you'd best not go to sleep - not in this house!"

Jack was startled: "Why not?"

"As soon as you do, I'm gonna do somethin' nasty to you!" said Vera, ominously.

"Such as what?" Jack's voice contained a note of fear.

"You'll find out - when it's too late!" crowed Vera.

Jack finally caved in, and agreed to give Vera half the money, plus £50 to Terry who had helped him reach agreement with his soul mate.

Jack made Vera promise that there'd be "no rough stuff at night".

"'Course not, love," said Vera, giving him a cuddle. "Unless you offer. But that don't happen very often, does it?" And she sighed.

Vera put the cheque in her building society account.

Jack was disgusted to discover that the cheque would take several days to clear.

As the days ticked slowly by, Vera was having thoughts. Wouldn't it be great to buy a microwave oven, a washing machine and a bed like Krystle Carrington's of Dynasty?

The 19th of October 1988 was the big day - the day the cheque cleared!

Vera went to get the money and seemed to be gone a long time.

Jack was on tenterhooks. It was only ten minutes walk to the precinct. What was keeping her? Of course, Alec would not allow Jack a break from The Rovers to investigate.

When Vera at last returned to No 9, Jack was ecstatic - until she shared out the money on the kitchen table. £50 for Terry, as agreed, and £15 each for herself and Jack.

Jack couldn't believe it. Vera had bought a bed like a "tart's boudoir", a microwave oven, and a washing machine with the rest of what he regarded as HIS money.

And no amount of reasoning on her part - the fact that she had bought things which would benefit them and save the money from being frittered away on booze and bets - could sway Jack at all.

He slammed out of the house, unable to speak.

Monday, 18 October 2010

More From 1989

"Well Pleased" has written to say that he/she is ... er ... well pleased with our 1989 visit. "More please!" says he/she!

My pleasure! Above, you'll see the building works in progress, Reg Holdsworth alarming Curly Watts, Jack and Vera Duckworth exulting over their swanky new stone cladding, Audrey Roberts sulking because she's been forced to move into the Corner Shop flat, Andy and Steve McDonald in the shop, the 1989 shop staff, Kevin and Sally Webster being told by Alf Roberts the news of Brian Tilsley's tragic and untimely death, Liz and Jim McDonald sussing out their new neighbours, and Mavis Riley and Emily Bishop enjoying a drink in The Rovers.

1983: Beverley Sowden/Callard Makes Her Soap Debut...

Sam writes:

Beverley Callard was apparently in Emmerdale Farm under the name Sowden in the 1980s. Do you have any further information about this?

We do, Sam - already written up some time ago. We've got the Emmerdale Farm episodes with Beverley in them - and she was terrific! Those '80s pixie boots and hair - she's the perpetual fashion victim! On the farm, she was Jackie Merrick's girlfriend, Angie Richards.

We published some pics on our sister blog, The Beckindale Bugle, and here at Back On The Street. Read the post here.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

1983: Gail's Driving Ambition

Newspaper clipping from 1983 - and Gail Tilsley is about to take her driving test:

Fingers will be crossed in Wednesday's Coronation Street on ITV at 7.30 that Gail Tilsley passes her driving test. As Gail (Helen Worth) tells husband Brian (Christopher Quinten) - who is a bit short of cash: "Think of the difference! You'll make more money and there'll be no need to get rid of the garage!" Oh, he's in there thinking, Gail.

Sadly, Gail failed her driving test.

Note that the BARB TV ratings listed below the Gail article show that Coronation Street was at Number 1 and Number 2 for the week ending 28 August, and at Numbers 3, 4 and 6 that other soap, Crossroads was bringing its "everyday" tale of motel folk into the homes of millions.

I loved Crossroads!


Coming Soon...

Sally: "Well, Mr Roberts, we've been hearing a bit about this 'Madchester' thing and Acid House, but me and Kev prefer to stay at home with a nice Shakin' Stevens LP and a packet of Hobnobs..."

Kevin: "Give over, Sal - you know I prefer Samantha Fox and Stella Artois!"

Sally: "Don't go showin' us up, Kev!"

Coming up - we're going to take a look at the teens and early twenty-somethings in The Street over the first three decades. Were they like real youngsters of the '60s, '70s and '80s, or not? And if not, why not?

Suzie Birchall (Cheryl Murray) steps into the limelight as we visit the evil side of the '80s, and we're also going to take a look at Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth) and Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington). Just HOW alike were they really?

Stay tuned. We can't promise you a tram crashing into the Corner Shop, but we can promise you some great '80s quotes from Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough), some super '60s Street architecture as envisaged by the show's original designer Denis Parkin, and a peek into the '70s to reveal a curious fact about the arrival of our Hilda's first muriel.


Friday, 15 October 2010

The Claytons Of No 11 Coronation Street - Harry, Connie, Sue And Andrea... What Went Wrong?

Jane Hazlegrove, Johnny Leeze, Susan Brown and Caroline O'Neill - the Claytons of Coronation Street. But not for long...

Ian writes:

Whilst all other Corrie sites are sucking up the doomy vibe about the 50th anniversary tram crash, on this one I've found Percy Sugden, Victor Pendlebury, Ena Sharples and the Clayton family! I like it very much. Talking of the Claytons, can you tell me why you think the family failed? Looking back, I don't think they were given much time.

Hi, Ian - thanks for your comments. Great to have feedback.

We'd be sucking up the "doomy vibe" about the tram crash too, but we don't cover the modern day Street!

As for the Claytons... well, I'm not sure what went wrong. I wasn't watching Corrie all the time back then as I was having an exciting time in real life, but I do recall catching an episode in which Harry and Connie came to look at No 11. I was immediately impressed by the possible future dynamics between the couple as Harry seemed laid back and Connie a bit of a moaner - perhaps even slightly neurotic. I recall she voiced doubts about moving into the house and didn't like the atmosphere.

Promising stuff, I thought!

Was Connie going to find out about the colourful past of the house in the Elsie Tanner era?

And how would she react to that?

"Ooh, Harry, I thought this house had a funny atmosphere. Lord knows what that woman got up to! There should be a red light outside! I don't like it here..."

The two sisters - Andrea and Sue - one academically inclined, the other totally not so, also seemed promising. Soaps thrive on conflict (in the 1980s, it was more of the everyday variety than much of what occurs today), and I anticipated at least a few spats between Andrea and Sue:

"You're stuck-up!"

"Well you're a no-hoper!"

Perhaps Harry, trombone-playing milkman dad, would be an easy-going peacemaker, probably rather hen pecked?

But no, the Claytons seemed to be a happy, united family with no conflicts between members.

Of course, they could have been a happy, united family, with a bit of conflict between members.

Most families I know are like that.

But no.

The Claytons got on very well together.

Recalling some of the now legendary (in my house) rows between my two sisters, and the occasional bust-up between my mother and step-father, I wasn't terribly convinced.

Andrea's involvement with Terry Duckworth I found unconvincing, too. Terry always seemed too old for his age (I was supposedly a contemporary of his, but always saw him as being a good five years older than me), had no fashion sense, and I couldn't imagine there ever being any spark between him and Andrea.

The conflict with the Duckworths, when Vera tried to out-Dynasty Dynasty with that dreadful dress, was good, but the relationships within the Clayton family continued on the flat and friendly level.

And so Andrea became pregnant by Terry and the family left.

I was sorry. The acting was always first rate, and I saw great potential in Connie when I first saw her looking at the house.

Interviewed years later, Susan Brown agreed that the Claytons did not work:

"But the really interesting thing is that the four of us got on fantastically well together, we were inseparable. There was a lot of talk about them wanting a very ordinary family but the characters were never defined and I never felt I had a big handle on the character."

Caroline O'Neill said:

"They wanted just a normal, ordinary family, but you can't just give that on speck, you have to have specifics. In the end I spent six months moaning about my A Levels, which was terribly boring and uninteresting. I had a couple of scenes just before I left when I was pregnant which were quite nice but they never followed that through either."

The Clayton family lived at No 11 from January to August 1985. I regretted their leaving. It was rare to see a whole new family - Mum, Dad, kids - moving into The Street in those days - and I did find the characters likeable.

Fortunately, the introduction of the McDonald family, who moved into No 11 in 1989, worked out rather better!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

1966 - Coronation Street In Australia...

Arrival in Australia: Pat Phoenix, Arthur Leslie and Doris Speed.

Coronation Street had been seen on-screen in Australia for three years, to avid response, and on 17 March 1966, Doris Speed, Pat Phoenix and Arthur Leslie (better known as Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner and Jack Walker to Street fans), together with the show's executive producer, Harry Kershaw, set out for "Down Under" to meet the fans on a three week tour. Granada Press Officer Norman Frisby was already there - having departed from England on 12 March. The tour came about via an invitation from the three Channel 9 stations which screened the show in Aus. - TCN 9 Sydney, GRV 9 Melbourne and NSW 9 Adelaide.

A wonderful first hand account of the trip exists in HV Kershaw's excellent book The Street Where I Live. First published to celebrate the show's 21st anniversary in 1981, an updated version was published in 1985 to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

Here's a brief extract:

The cynic might rightfully argue that the happy-go-lucky Lancashire bonhomie was now second nature to all "Coronation Street" artists but anyone looking down, say, at twenty thousand upturned smiling faces at the new City of Elizabeth and listening to their cheers of welcome could well have been forgiven for becoming a little 'difficult'. But Pat, Doris and Arthur stayed on an even keel. Not only did they carry out a gruelling programme, they each had time for the spontaneous gesture. I remember one morning in Adelaide, standing outside the Hotel Australia waiting with the party to move off on another well-filled day when a thirty-year-old woman pushed her way through the watching fans and nervously approached Pat Phoenix. Her mother, she explained, a great "Street" fan, was bed-ridden and, sorely disappointed at having missed a sight of her favourites, had asked if she might have an autograph.

'Where do you live?' asked Pat. The woman told her. 'Where's that?' Pat asked Rob Carless, our South Australian host. Five minutes away by car, said Rob. 'Come on!' said Pat and the surprised woman found herself being bundled into a limousine and driven home. Not that her surprise was anything to her mother's when, sitting up in bed she watched as the door opened and a glamorous, smiling Elsie Tanner popped her head round, said 'Hello, love! They tell me you're poorly!' and stayed for a chat and a cup of tea.

The secret of the tour's success was perhaps best summed up by a sardonic member of the Australian Press corps. We had been warned that the Aussie journalist was the most murderous of the breed but the trip was going so well we took our courage in both hands and agreed to a full-scale Press reception. The junket was held at the Great Eastern Hotel in Littlehampton in the hills above Adelaide and, after a wary start, artists, assassins and associates began to enjoy the boar's heads and barons of beef, the Foster's lager and the native (and excellent) champagne. At two o'clock in the morning I was buttonholed by a gaunt Pressman who pressed a glass of something-or-other in my hand and plied me with a few searching questions. Then he paused and looked at me.

'I'll tell you something!' he said. 'When we heard that you Poms were coming over we got out the knives and we sharpened them good. We were really going to carve you up!" His eyes flickered to Pat and Doris, fresh as the morning dew, Pat regaling one group with some tale of home, Doris holding court with another. And, between them, Arthur Leslie demonstrating to a bleary band of reporters the gentle art of opening a champagne bottle. 'But these bastards...!' the Pressman went on, his voice full of wonder, '... these bastards'd charm the birds from the bleedin' trees!'

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mavis Riley And Les Dennis In The 1980s...

TV Times, July, 1985.

Fay writes:

Come on, Corrie genius, Can you give me a rough estimate of how many times Mavis Riley/Wilton said "I don't really know!"

Well, Fay, I hate to disappoint you, but I have over a thousand episodes of Coronation Street, most of them consecutive ones, and many of them featuring Mavis from her early years to her marriage to Derek and beyond. And she doesn't say "I don't really know!" at all.

I have only one episode in which she does say it, and then not in a dithering manner, from the late 1980s.

The catchphrase did not actually belong to the real Mavis character. It originated in the 1980s when Les Dennis and Dustin Gee teamed up for a brilliant series of Mavis and Vera Duckworth skits.

And Les's Mavis was often heard to squawk: "I don't really know!"

Les and Dustin worked together on Russ Abbot's Madhouse, a highly popular show which began in 1980.

In an early series of the show, a comedy sequence involving Russ selling sketches from a barrow went pear shaped, and so Les's Mavis met Dustin's Vera:

"We had to pop up from behind the barrow doing particular impressions, but we got the sequence a bit wrong," explained Dustin Gee in 1985. "Russ had already got Mavis Riley beside him and he said: 'And what am I bid for a Bet Lynch?' I said, 'You can't have a Bet Lynch, but here's a Vera Duckworth,' because I was halfway dressed as Vera. I appeared and began talking to 'Mavis' in character. After that, we began to appear more regularly, eventually on Live From Her Majesty's as well as The Royal Variety Show."

The catchphrase took off, and is now, of course, attributed to Thelma Barlow's original Mavis, although it actually originated with Les Dennis's version!

Read our main post on Les Dennis and Dustin Gee here.

Granada Studios Tour - More Memories...

Straying out of the '60s, 70s and '80s for a moment - I came across a few more piccies of the Granada Studios Tour yesterday and thought you might enjoy a peek. The Tour is, of course, related to our subject era as it debuted in the 1980s!

There's me above, outside the Corner Shop looking very youthful. If you could see me now... My physog has, as usual, been blanked out to protect those of a nervous disposition.

The shop looks very much as it did after its 1985 transformation into Alf's Mini Market, except for the twee latticed window added by Brendan Scott in the early 1990s.

I was sitting on the pavement outside the Corner Shop with my wife on one visit. It was a quiet moment on the Street, and we were reminiscing, when who should appear from a small door under one of the viaduct arches but Gail Tilsley - actress Helen Worth! Having got over the shock, we were delighted to see her, and she chatted happily with us about the 1970s days when Gail lived in the shop flat with Tricia Hopkins, and the 1980s days when Gail's Mam, awful Aud, married the shop owner.

And also the doings of Suzie Birchall!

It was lovely to meet Helen Worth - she was absolutely charming to chat with - and we also met the wonderful Bill Waddington (Percy Sugden), another of our favourite characters, on a different occasion. He told us that some people taking the tour had informed him that they were afraid of getting told off by Percy as they went round the exterior set!

Taking a stroll in some very English weather!

We managed to sneak a peek at the interior of No 7 - the posh new house built by Len Fairclough in 1982. Posh? We're tellin' you, lovey, it were a right 'ole. Concrete floors, kitchen that small you couldn't swing a cat...

The Duckworths' house, complete with bar, was, of course, much classier!

The Changing Face Of The Corner Shop

How it changed - the Corner Shop as featured in the original opening titles of Coronation Street in 1960 - a view of Archie Street; with its new frontage in 1964; and in 1985 as Alf's brand new mini market.

First in a series of posts in which we take a look at The Street and its changing architecture over the years.

I'm starting with the Corner Shop at No 15 because it was a favourite Street location of mine - I fantasised about owning it when I was a youngster. Move aside, Maggie Clegg and Renee Bradshaw!

We know that the Corner Shop experienced several changes of ownership in the 1960s and '70s - from Florrie Lindley to Lionel Petty, from Lionel Petty to David and Irma Barlow, from David and Irma Barlow to the Clegg family, and from the Clegg family to Renee Bradshaw.

The shop enjoyed a brief period with a sub post office added in the mid-1960s and a longer-lasting change with the addition of an off-licence in 1976.

Remember the 1980s, when the shop was owned by Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley)? After the death of his wife Renee (Madge Hindle) in July 1980, Alf was the shop man for the rest of the decade and into the early 1990s.

Let's take a look at the structural alterations made to the shop in the 1960s and 1980s...

In the beginning, as Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge) took over the shop from Elsie Lappin (Maudie Edwards), the shop door was on the corner of Coronation Street and Viaduct Street, with display windows in both streets.

This was based on the original model for Coronation Street, Archie Street in Ordsall.

Archie Street had an off-licence on the corner which provided the inspiration for the Corrie Corner Shop architecture.

Back to the story-line.

Always a quiet soul, Florrie Lindley never really made much of an impression on the Street, the biggest surprise being the arrival of her husband after she'd claimed to be a widow, but she did make an impact on the Corner Shop. It was towards the end of Florrie's reign at the shop that she had the frontage rebuilt and the door moved from its position on the corner. The new frontage had a door opening straight on to Coronation Street and a small display window to its right.

And that's the way it stayed until long after Florrie's departure in 1965 - right up to 1985 in fact, when Alf Roberts had the shop made into a mini market. This meant interior changes - the disappearance of the living room at the back which became additional shop space - and a new, more modern self service system.

Last days of the old Corner Shop - the Street c. early 1985 - shortly before the mini market.

Alf actually wanted to enlarge his little empire dramatically and incorporate the house next door, No 13, into his new scheme of things. But when this plan failed to come to fruition, he settled for transforming the existing shop premises.

And what a dramatic transformation it was!

The frontage was totally altered - now having a smart new metal door, a tiled surround, a very '80s red-on-white sign proclaiming "CORNER SHOP" and a new window emblazoned: "ALF'S MINI MARKET".

The change meant a great increase in items stocked.

The premises were suddenly pulled out of the mid-1960s and into the mid-1980s. It was at this point that the Corner Shop entered its modern day era.

Alf adored the place - he was a dedicated Mr Green The Grocer, although wife Audrey (Sue Nicholls), who married Alf in 1985, was never that keen.

However with shop assistants Deirdre Langton/Barlow (Anne Kirkbride), who first worked there in 1980, and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor), who took Deirdre's place in 1987, the Corner Shop continued to hold its own - even against competition like the Bettabuys supermarket, which was introduced in 1989.

The shop was much handier than Bettabuys - and the quality of the gossip on offer much higher!

In fact, throughout the first three decades, the gossip which bounced around the Corner Shop's walls was second to none!

And I daresay that's something which hasn't changed to this day!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

We Love Victor Pendlebury

Victor Pendlebury (Christopher Coll) romances Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow).

"Wally" was a wildly popular insult of the early to mid 1980s (there was even a book called "How To Be A Wally"), and here we find Victor Pendlebury and Derek Wilton (Peter Baldwin) being accurately described in a newspaper cartoon.

I can't help feeling I'm having my leg pulled here, but since I wrote my recent blog post on Victor Pendlebury, I've received no less than twelve e-mails ranting about the glories of The Saddleworth Sage. One even suggests that I rename this blog "The Victor Pendlebury Appreciation Society".

Well, ladies and gentleman, let's not forget that the highly conventional Town Hall planning officer that was the real Victor actually baulked at introducing his neighbours to the concept of his wildly bohemian trial marriage, and planned to pass Mavis off as "Mrs Pendlebury".

He wasn't that daring!

But still he excites interest.

Just imagine what might have happened if he had married Mavis! says Joan P.

He was a Heathcliffe to Mavis's Cathy, says "EastEnders Disliker".

He was a man amongst Mavis, says my wife.

Actually, he was rather a good character, says I.

Sadly, Victor, introduced in November 1982, never made it past minor intermittent character status, but judging by e-mails received here and viewers' reactions in the 1980s and early 1990s, the character made some impact. And just what might Mavis have been doing now if she had chosen differently?

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Duckworths And The Claytons

The Duckworths - Vera (Liz Dawn), Terry (Nigel Pivaro) and Jack (William Tarmey) battle it out at No 9, whilst at No 11 the Claytons - Andrea (Caroline O'Neill), Connie (Susan Brown), Harry (Johnny Leeze) and Sue (Jane Hazlegrove)) have a nice pot of tea.

Now, I'm not one for gossip, chuck, you can ask anyone - ask Ida Clough - but I remember them Duckworths in their heyday. Who doesn't round 'ere?

'83 it were they moved in, and a couple of years later the Clayton family moved in next door. Connie Clayton weren't that keen on't place - thought it had a funny atmosphere - but they moved in anyway, her, her old man - Harry, and the two kids - Andrea and Sue.

Well, I ask you, who in their right minds would move in next door to't Duckworths?

Harry was a milkman and he played the trombone. The trombone! I ask you! Funny beggar!

Andrea were studying for her A Levels - A-Levels! Should've been out working! Sue were less high falutin' - left school and got a job. Nice girl.

Connie used to take in dressmaking, and that's how she come up against Madam Duckworth. Vera wanted a posh dress making - said she'd make Joan Collins like a lollipop lady! I ask you! Connie made the dress and Vera weren't happy with it - and a right argy bargy started.

But in the meantime, Andrea had taken up with Terry Duckworth. Funny lad, Terry. Sly and had no fashion sense. Right slovenly. Thought she'd have had more sense.

Anyway, it turned out she'd been playing "Hide The Sausage" with Terry, and she ended up in the family way.

Well, that were it. The Claytons upped sticks and left.

And who could blame 'em?

Friday, 8 October 2010


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

Justin has written:

I wept to see that the Corner Shop has been destroyed by the tram crash for the 50th anniversary. It was the place where the very first scene was set in 1960. What are these people doing to Corrie? Jean Alexander asked Brian Park why he was destroying Corrie in 1997 - but now things are so much worse.

It's certainly a strong story-line, Justin! I'm sorry you wept to see the Corner Shop destroyed. It does hold many fond memories, and was one of the original meeting places (The Rovers being the other) when the show began.

The Corner Shop was transformed by Alf Roberts into a mini market in 1985.

Claire writes:

Only this blog would feature a post about Victor Pendlebury's resemblance to Stan Ogden! As Corrie blogs go, yours is quirky, insightful and unique. Keep it up!

Claire, I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you. And I enjoy writing the blog so I intend to keep it going!

Gavin writes:

Where do you get all your screen grabs from?

I have a lot of 1970s episodes, Gavin, from Granada Plus and 1980s episodes from Canadian TV broadcasts. Some of the '80s discs are in a sorry state, so it's taking me lots of time to transfer them to playable discs, but once I have there'll be lots more screen caps.

Victor Pendlebury And Stan Ogden - Brothers Under The Skin?

They loved to go a-wandering... Victor Pendlebury (Christopher Coll) sets out with Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow)...

Victor was a man of words. A man of action. A man of nature. A man of pottery. A man of... ooh, all sorts of things!

He was a breath of fresh air when he blew into Mavis' life in 1982... so different from dithering Derek Wilton.

Victor's attitude was so unconventional. So poetic. So literary. So craft-loving. So Stan Ogden.

So Stan Ogden?!!! you cry.

Why yes, I reply - at least according to "The Oggies" in 1983...

Sunday People, June 12, 1983:

Victor Pendlebury, rapidly rising rival to Stan Ogden as the male chauvinist pig of Coronation Street, must not be allowed to leave the show.

None other than the Oggies - the Stan Ogden Appreciation Society - say so.

They reckon Victor could become "the thinking man's big O" and have asked the producers to let him stay.

Leader Barry Trelawney said: "His disgraceful treatment of Mavis is superb - we knew he was a kindred spirit when he asked her to live with him at weekends only. He reminds us of Stan in his prime when he gave Hilda a dog's life. And when he demolished a bottle of sherry solo we knew he had Stan's hollow legs, too."

A Street spokesman sent a message of hope:

"Victor is slinking off alone - but we're sure we haven't seen the last of him."

My wife was very fond of Victor.

But then she has excellent taste in men!

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Stone Cladding Man - Who Was He Before?

Quite a lot of Corrie performers over the years have played more than one role - usually beginning as bit-parts, characters who flitted through a plot, appearing in only a couple of episodes.

According to his autobiography, The Importance Of Being Percy, Bill Waddington was four different "bit part" characters, before becoming Percy Sugden in 1983. He'd first appeared in the show in the late 1960s, and was at No 3, where Percy would later lodge, playing the best man at Emily Bishop's "wedding" to bigamist Arnold Swain, in 1980.

Another Corrie legend, Jean Alexander, had briefly appeared as the landlady of the woman who had kidnapped baby Christopher Hewitt in 1962 before becoming Hilda in 1964.

There's a lengthy list, but here's a nice easy question for you.

It's 1989. Percy is outraged to discover the workman putting up the Duckworths' stone cladding blasting out Roachford's Cuddly Toy on his radio, and gives him a proper ticking off.

"That wireless is a public nuisance!" rants Percy.

The actor who played the workman had notably played somebody else in The Street years before - his reign was brief but dramatic.

Can you name the actor and the character he once played?

The "Which Year?" Question Revisited

I'm a little disappointed by the response to the question I posed a week or two back - "which year was the photograph above taken?"

So far, readers have only established that it could be 1979 or it could be 1980. But there is somebody in the photograph, a member of the cast, perhaps even two members of the cast, who firmly pin the pic to one of those two years.

Come on, folks, take a closer look!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Gail, Brian, Ian And Sarah Louise - Who's The Daddy?

Chris asks:

Do you have any screen grabs of Gail and Brian Tilsley as they were in the late 80's? Love the blog!

Thanks, Chris. Eyes to top of post for screen captures.

This is Gail (Helen Worth) telling Brian (Chris Quinten) that Sarah Louise is his daughter, not Ian Latimer's. She didn't really want to. Gail was quite happy going her own way, letting Brian believe that the baby wasn't his.

But when Audrey (Sue Nicholls) opened her gob to Ivy (Lynne Perrie) about the top secret facts, Gail was forced to tell Brian the truth.

Deirdre And The Gipsy Creams

Daniel writes:

The Web is alight with the latest Corrie sensation - Deirdre and the Gipsy Creams! They were a biscuit that is apparently not available anymore, but Deirdre offered the doctor a couple with a cup of tea in Corrie on Thursday, and apparently Peter Barlow has bought a packet from the Corner Shop!

Is it possible? I know you're a retro Corrie blog, not up-to-date stuff, but I wonder if, you being past orientated, you can shed any light on when they ceased to be, and whether any are still available? I'm sad, but thanks a lot!

Well, Daniel, even though I rarely venture beyond 1989 with The Street, I'm enthralled by the Gipsy Creams mystery. It's right up my street (groan!).

When did they cease manufacture? In the much-maligned 1980s? In the noxious 1990s? Or more recently?

Well, I'm not sure when they debuted, but indications are that they ceased manufacture about four or five years ago. In 2005, they seemed in short supply, but the packet pictured above has a 19 Nov 05 sell-by date. The manufacturer was McVitie's.

There's a lovely piece here about a rare 2005 sighting.

The only explanation I can find for Deirdre's recent treat is that the Corner Shop must have some very old stock!

How did I rate Gipsy Creams?

Well, GC fans, sorry, but I wasn't keen.

I much prefer Hobnobs - launched in the mid-1980s and still going strong - and absolutely beautiful after a dunking in a mug of tea!

Steve - A New Mr Tanner For Elsie...

September 1967, and the TV Times came up with a souvenir magazine to celebrate the wedding of Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) to her American wartime love Steve Tanner (Paul Maxwell).

This started a bit of a trend for TV Times, which also produced Street "special" magazines for the show's tenth anniversary in 1970, the wedding of Len Fairclough (Peter Adamson) and Rita Littlewood (Barbara Knox) in 1977, and the 2000th episode in 1980.

So, Elsie married a man from her past, a US Army Master Sergeant she had met during the Second World War.

Eee, those were the days, chuck - the days when the Yanks were oversexed, over here and over at Elsie's.

"Got any gum, chum?"

And Elsie's second husband had the same name as her first, although he couldn't have been more different from the shifty Arnold.

Behind the scenes, it was handy that Steve shared Elsie's surname as he wasn't going to be around for long and Elsie Tanner could simply continue being Elsie Tanner after the marriage broke up.

Eee, 'eck, lovey, there was some classy nosh at the wedding reception - as Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) discovered. But whilst I have written about the sometimes too upmarket diets of the Street's characters (occasionally more reflective of well-heeled scriptwriters than genuine back street people), it was fitting that the wedding food should be "posh" as Steve was a pretty classy guy!

For Pat Phoenix, the wedding was apparently an emotional affair in which the fine line between fact and fiction was broken.

Jack Rosenthal, the Street's producer at the time, recalled years later that Pat refused to leave her dressing room before the wedding scenes were due to be recorded.

"She said, 'I'm not coming out.' I said 'You've got to come out, we're all waiting to shoot, you've got to come out, it's the wedding scene.' She said, 'That's why.' And that's precisely what it was and this mood had been prevalent and increased during the run-up."

Finally, Pat let Mr Rosenthal into her dressing room.

"I sat and held her hand and she said, 'Don't you understand, it's my wedding day.' I held her hand and I did what you do with a bride, with your daughter, and I said 'You're beautiful and you're radiant and it's going to be the most wonderful wedding. Come on now, I want you to go out there.' I couldn't believe it was happening but it did happen and she came out and walked down the aisle."

The wedding took place over two episodes on the fourth and the sixth of September, 1967.

This was a special pose for the TV Times - Steve never kissed Ena on-screen. She'd would probably have hit him with her handbag - because you couldn't have men taking liberties. Or anybody else, for that matter!

Another TV Times pose as Elsie and Steve prepare to fly off to Lisbon on their honeymoon. Their departure was not seen on-screen.

Well, lovey, that were it. The marriage broke up quickly. Steve was then murdered. And Elsie was alone again.

But not for long...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Danger At The Corner Shop - Maya 2004 And Phyllis 1987

"When you've made gravy under shell fire, you can do anything!" says Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington) to Alf Roberts (Bryan Mosley).

Josh has written:

Much as I like this blog, don't you think it's missing out by not including the full 50 year span of the Street? After all, a lot of the best dramas and special effects have been in the last 20 years. Do you remember Maya blowing up the Corner Shop in 2004? Just how gripping was that? And it's one of hundreds of great stories in the program. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are fine, but they were never as gripping as the last 20 years. The dramatic content has grown tremendously, and the sense of danger keeps me on the edge of my seat like never before.

Hi, Josh!

You may have a point there, but I stick to the first three decades because I have most enthusiasm for them and want to pay tribute to the actors, writers and production teams of those times.

And hey, the Corner Shop had its fair share of dangerous scenarios in the past! Remember Sheila Birtles trying to commit suicide in the 1960s? Gail and the suspect telephone engineer in the 1970s? And as for the 1980s, well with Audrey striding about squawking with her dreadful perm, and unspeakable horrors lurking amongst the shelves, you could hardly call it safe.

Unspeakable horrors lurking amongst the shelves?

Well, yes, if your name was Percy Sugden. Often he'd go in for a purchase and a nag and a moan at Alf Roberts, only to find Phyllis Pearce (Jill Summers) scuttling towards him, having lain in wait for him behind the Super Noodles, Gipsy Creams, Hobnobs and Heinz Big Soups.

She'd suddenly poke her head up, spot the capped man with the over-active gob at the counter, and then there she'd be, stood there large as life beside her intended.

Poor old Phyllis. She never won Percy's heart, but personally I think that was a blessing in disguise.

All right, you may ask, but how does such trivia rank alongside the dramas of the explosive Maya? Well, the Percy and Phyllis scenario actually attracted Royal attention, with Diana, Princess of Wales, asking Bill Waddington at a Help The Aged charity event: "Does that woman ever catch you?"

So it couldn't have been that unremarkable!

Nay, lovey, those days were just my cup of tea...

As for Maya, I liked the character - she was different, unpredictable, kind of fun. I thought it was a shame they turned her into a bunny boiler and dispatched her.

"Does that woman ever catch you?"