Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Elsie Tanner Guide To Coronation Street English

When an American friend of mine visited England in 2010, he was bemused at the variety of accents and variations of the spoken language he encountered. He took in Newcastle, the Lake District, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, the Cotswolds, Cambridge, Dorset and Norfolk and was well fuddled by the end of it. "There are so many variations of spoken English in England!" he finally told me. "For a tiny country like yours, it's amazing! And I've never known why your toffs and royalty insert inappropriate r's into words. 'Orff'. That's stupid"

Speaking as somebody without any inappropriate r's whatsoever, but a man who calls a pudding a "pudden" and, furthermore, a man well acquainted with "Dickie's medder", I couldn't help him.

When Coronation Street was launched in 1960, it must have been puzzling for people in other parts of the country to hear that wonderful Northern version of the language which I personally hold very dear (my dad hailed from "up North"). So, in 1961, the TV Times appointed Mrs Elsie Tanner of No 11 Coronation Street (who, as a native, spoke the lingo fluently) to enlighten the rest of us poor saps. Here's what she had to say, with specially posed photographs of Pat Phoenix as Elsie and, in one of them, Philip Lowrie, her unfortunate son Dennis....

Been feeling a bit mithered meself lately...

So there are you are. Cheers, Elsie! And if anybody can fill us in on the origins of 'flamin' Nora' and 'flamin' Emma', our cup of happiness would runneth over...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Coronation Street - A Typical Saturday In 1961...

From the TV Times, 1961, part of the series of articles published in that magazine to celebrate The Street's first year on air. This is a typical Saturday on the Street way back then - with Ken showing Frank Barlow a letter from David, Harry Hewitt cleaning the windows at No 7 and chatting with Concepta and Len Fairclough, Jack and Annie Walker out for a morning stroll, Elsie Tanner giving son Dennis a right lambasting for being a layabed, Christine Hardman being greeted by Mr Swindley and Miss Nugent, corner shop owner Florrie Lindley taking a break from sweeping the flagstones to chat with Esther Hayes and Albert Tatlock, and Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst clocking everything on't corner. And where was Ena Sharples? you cry. Apparently off visiting her daughter and grandson. We hope it was a happy visit - but knowing Mrs Sharples in the early 1960s (fierce wasn't the word!) we wouldn't bet on it!

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Coronation Street District - Weatherfield, 1961

TV Times celebrated a year of Coronation Street in 1961, with a series of articles and illustrations. The above pic is an aerial view of the Coronation Street neighbourhood in 1961. Of course, it differs from what we might expect. Arkwright Street, family home of that upwardly mobile little madam Sally Seddon in the 1980s, hadn't been invented, there was a cinema just round the corner, and St Mary's Church was just opposite the corner of Coronation Street! Rather like St Clement's Church was opposite the corner of Archie Street, the street which provided inspiration for Corrie's architecture. A further attempt to depict the neighbourhood in a 1976 TV Times also had its problems as it moved Len Fairclough's yard out of Mawdsley Street! But then mistakes happen and in recent years soap history is often rewritten anyway.

I love the map above - take a stroll round Weatherfield as it was then envisaged - call in at Gamma Garments - where Miss Nugent is no doubt admiring Mr Swindley's antimacassars, note the posh bay window at the side of the Rovers Return (Annie Walker must have been chuffed to little mint balls!), and do a shift at Elliston's Raincoat Factory, having a Corner Shop barm cake for your dinner break. But be warned - I'd avoid the vestry at the Mission Of Glad Tidings if I were you!

Ena Sharples After A Few Milk Stouts Too Many?!

Titbits, June 1968. What a wonderful cover - Mrs Sharples looking super jolly with a thick coating of lippy! The article inside centres on the serious consequences of real-life gossip, but the cover is so flamin' funny we've filed it under "wot a laugh, lovey!"

Coronation Street Novels By HV Kershaw - Old Friends... New Faces - Mystery Solved

 Ena Sharples: " 'Old friends'? Well, I can't say any of us are old friends of YOURS - we knew your mother! And as for 'new faces'... We don't take very kindly to new faces round 'ere!"

Had a very nice e-mail from Joan, who has many kind things to say about Back On The Street, and posed a question:

I bought the three HV Kershaw novels based on the early years of Corrie in the mid-to-late '70s. I thought I had them all Early Days, Trouble At The Rovers, and Elsie Tanner Fights Back. Each one centred on a particular year,1961, 1962 and 1963, and they were very enjoyable as Mr Kershaw was heavily involved with Corrie since its pre-screen days. Recently, I came across an on-line reference to another HV Kershaw Corrie novel called Old Friends... New Faces. I've never heard of it before, and can't find a copy on eBay or anywhere. Have you got a copy?

Hello, Joan!

No, I'm sorry, I haven't, but as far as I'm aware, NOBODY has - because it was never published. And I got that information from Mr Kershaw himself back in the early 1980s. I had been to my local library and was looking at the massive volume called Books In Print - the "bible" of what was around in the books world in that day and age. No library computers then, of course. I checked HV Kershaw's listings, and came across Coronation Street: Old Friends... New Faces. I wrote to Mr Kershaw, who responded very promptly and pleasantly, stating that only three Coronation Street novels had been published, and that he couldn't explain the error in Books In Print, perhaps the library could? The library couldn't.

I can only assume that this publication was well and truly in the pipeline, but never arrived. 

I was disappointed because, like you, I had greatly enjoyed the first three volumes, and the title - Old Friends... New Faces - had whetted my appetite as it seemed likely to refer to the events of 1964, with the arrival of the Ogdens at No 13. I would have loved to have read Mr Kershaw's written version of the events of that year.

I've checked on-line, and I can only surmise that the Books In Print error has been carried forward into our on-line modern world.

But you can rest assured that no such title was ever published.