Monday, 15 September 2014

1986: "Our Hilda" - An English Rose!

Hilda Ogden - an English rose?! Yep, she became one in 1986, when Bee's, the Chester firm of seedsmen, launched a new rose named in honour of our Coronation Street heroine!

The raspberry pink rose appeared at the Chelsea Flower Show that year, and actress Jean Alexander was invited down for the preview.

In her 1989 autobiography The Other Side Of The Street, Jean wrote:

I had never been to the show before and I was entranced by the variety and beauty of the exhibits, but for me 'Our Hilda' shone the brightest.

And, of course, Jean posed for a photograph of the rose in Hilda's living room, complete with flying ducks and a photograph of the late Bernard Youens, in character as Stan Ogden.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

1981: Mark Eden - On The Street At Last!

18/2/1981 - A new man for Elsie?

Actor Mark Eden was very pleased in 1981. He'd landed a role in Coronation Street!

But not the role he is now remembered for!

Mark was Wally Randle, a customer at Jim's Cafe in Rosamund Street, where a certain Mrs Elsie Tanner worked. And she liked him!

Mark said at the time:

"I've wanted to be in Coronation Street for a long time. I'm glad I have made it at last!"

Little did he know - for the Wally Randle character was only around for a short time. He went to lodge with Elsie, regarding her only as a friend. But Elsie read more into the situation - and ended up shattered and alone.

Mr Eden left... and then, in 1986, returned as an entirely different character.

A character called Alan Bradley...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

1985: Daran Little - Coronation Street's Quiz Kid

Found this article in the newspaper archive today, dated April 7, 1985, about (the then) eighteen-year-old Daran Little.

Daran, of course, would go on to succeed Eric Rosser as the Street's archivist, but in 1985, then an art student, he was hailed as "The Street's Quiz Kid". He was also a huge fan of the BBC's then fledgling soap EastEnders and wanted to become that show's paid historian!

Daran said of Corrie:

"My friends are amazed at the time and effort I put into watching Coronation Street. But I think it's a lot saner than hobbies like fishing.

"I feel as if I know the characters as people. Some you hate, some you love. It's the same as in real life.

"My favourite was Elsie Tanner. I feel close to her because I know all about her life. For instance, the twenty-three affairs she has had."

So, there you are! If you fancy being a future Corrie historian, start studying the show and who knows!

The newspaper set Daran twenty questions to test his knowledge. And he passed 100%. Daran then set twenty questions for readers. Here's a selection...

1985 Questions Set For Daran Little...

How many times has Elsie Tanner married, when, and who were her husbands?

In which year did Bet Lynch first appear?

When did Annie Walker's husband Jack die?

What happened to David Barlow and Irma Ogden?

Fred Gee has had two affairs, with Vera Duckworth and Alma Walsh. But who did he marry in 1981?

Name Mavis Riley's two suitors of last year [1984]?

1985 Questions Set By Daran Little...

Who played Mrs Gilda Montefiore in the 1962 Christmas play?

Who gave Lucille Hewitt a black eye when she tried to fiddle the factory bonus scheme and in which year?

How many people have had their names above the Corner Shop (to 1985)?

Name the original occupant of No 5?

What degree did Ken Barlow obtain?

Why did Len Fairclough sack Dennis Tanner in 1966?

Who kidnapped Christopher Hewitt in 1962, and who found him?

Who did Dickie Fleming catch his wife Audrey kissing in 1971?

Thinking caps on and remember, you couldn't Google in 1985! Answers coming soon!

1982 - The Very First Coronation Street Video Release...

In late 1982, when I saw the Magic Of Coronation Street in my local WH Smith's, I didn't have a VCR. Few people did (only 5% of the population in 1980) so that didn't worry me, but, by late 1982, I was thinking that one day I MIGHT have one, so I bought the video. It turns out it was 1987 before I actually got a VCR, but it was worth the wait because The Magic Of Coronation Street is a great watch - classic episodes from the show's early days, linked by Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner and Len Fairclough in the Rovers Return in 1982, reminiscing.

Broadcast Magazine, December 1982: Video releases. Annie Walker, of course, represents the Street's debut on video. But then, when one is licensee of one of the borough's foremost hostelries and a former Lady Mayoress to boot, one expects these little chores...

This was the very first Coronation Street video release (brilliantly parodied by Victoria Wood a few years later as something you could "keep and keep again") and it still makes lovely viewing. The episodes it contains, including the very first, are smashing, but the interlinking stuff from 1982 is also brilliant. It all finishes at Closing Time at the Rovers, with Annie bidding Elsie and Len goodnight, and treating Len to one of her specialities - a gorgeously sugary bitchy remark. Having observed him spending the evening with his old love, she can't resist a parting shot: "My love to Rita!"

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Worst Story-Lines... The 1970s... Lorry Crash...

A while ago we published a post about our worst story-line of the 1980s - Rita's amnesia of 1989 won the prize. For our next decade, the 1970s, there were several highly stinky contenders, but we decided that we'd pluck the lorry crash out of early 1979. It was a blockbuster that didn't work in our opinion, and looks laughable in retrospect.


Well, consider...

Firstly, Tracy is kidnapped. Conveniently, a young girl Deirdre was in maternity hospital with turns up not long before the crash... and moments before the crash, kidnaps Tracy from outside the Rovers. Would any sensible mother had left her little child outside a pub (or anywhere come to that?) anyway? No... it was incredible. TOO incredible!

Deirdre, it wasn't even safe to leave Christopher Hewitt outside Gamma Garments in 1962. What the 'eck do yer think yer playin' at, luv?!

And then there was all the drama of Deirdre threatening to jump in the canal and Alf Roberts's coma and mental health problems - so badly done. So soon forgotten.

And on top of all that, there were the victims of the crash with minor cuts and bruises - Len and Betty spring to mind - whose injuries seemed to disappear in an absurdly short amount of time.

We can forgive things like a fireman casting a shadow over the factory as he tried to get into the Rovers through a devastated window after the crash - we all know how the show was produced in those days, and actors casting shadows on "scenery" was accepted.

But as a piece of drama, the lorry crash simply does not stand the test of time. And it wasn't particularly great even in the 1970s.

Phyllis Pearce - From Dragon To Old Romantic

When Phyllis Pearce, played by Jill Summers, made her Corrie debut in 1982, she was hailed by the Press as a new Ena Sharples. And, although NOT in Ena's heyday class, she certainly had a sharp tongue. She nagged at Chalkie Whiteley. She bossed and fussed her grandson Craig. And she wasn't scared of Elsie Tanner, either.

But, after doing a disappearing act for a while after Craig and Chalkie emigrated, Phyllis returned to the district to work at Jim's Cafe and was very different.

She set her cap at Percy Sugden, dallied with Sam Tindall (to try and make Percy jealous) and was a fun-loving old duck.

A bit sad and a bit lonely.

But fun-loving all the same.

Phyllis was young at heart.

In fact, she was SO young at heart that she wasted no time in letting Emily Bishop know exactly what she thought of her when Percy moved into No 3 as Emily's lodger in 1988.

Fancy Emily trying to pinch her fella!

We think it was sensible of the production team to not try and mould Phyllis into a replacement Ena.

Ena was irreplaceable.

And Phyllis carved her own little niche in Weatherfield history simply by being Phyllis.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Hilda's Flying Ducks - Again!

The late 1980s - and Hilda and her ducks were upwardly mobile, as she went off to be housekeeper to posh Dr Lowther.

Hilda's ducks - and, of course, Stan's photo - continued to take pride of place in Hilda's new abode.

We've already covered the story of Hilda's ducks here - but Paul has written about them, asking:

When did Hilda's ducks disappear? And do you have a photo of your own flight of birds?

Hilda's ducks bade a final farewell in December 1987, Paul, when Hilda left. She was very fond of them. They had, of course, once belonged to her Aunt Aggie.

Regular readers will know that I inherited my great-grandmother's flight of birds a few years ago. I put them up for the sake of piece and quiet - my mother would have been highly offended if I hadn't - and some friends called our house "The Oggies" for a while. But they're not ducks. However, the idea is the same and those sorts of wall ornaments were very popular years ago.

I've taken a piccy for you, Paul.

And yes, that is a serving hatch in the wall below great grandma's birds.

But our house is nothing like Stan and Hilda's.

Apart from that.


Monday, 1 September 2014

1982: Albert Tatlock, MBE!

 31/12/1982 - and Jack Howarth gets the MBE! Richly deserved - cloth-capped grumpy old Albert was such a favourite - something between a lovable garden gnome and a troll sitting in the Rovers Snug. The award was for Jack Howarth's tireless charity work. "Off screen he is a cheerful, energetic man" says this front page article from the Sun newspaper. 

We love Albert! "Love?" you ask. "But he died years ago! Wouldn't loved be a more appropriate word?" No, because, despite the fact that both Albert and Mr Howarth died in 1984, whenever we watch old episodes of the Street, Albert lives again - and we enjoy Mr Howarth's performances just as much as we did when they were originally broadcast. Albert Tatlock is definitely one of the immortal characters of the Street.