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?