I was trolling around YouTube a couple of weeks ago whilst looking for material for a Video Wednesday post and somehow came upon a vintage episode of Coronation Street – known as “Corrie” to it’s fans – from January 3, 1977. Having never actually watched the show, I made the mistake of clicking the link. I watched the espisode and, Reader, I was hooked. Line and sinkered, too. I discovered that YouTube user Auntie Corrie has uploaded years of vintage Coronation Street, which you can find on her playlists. I’ve been watching episodes daily, which Victoria seems to think is hysterical, mainly because I’m watching episodes of a soap opera that are forty-odd years old.
Coronation Street debuted live on December 9, 1960 and is set in the fictional town of Weatherfield, located just outside of Manchester. What makes Coronation Street so special are it’s characters, who lead ordinary, every day lives, have human flaws and are, by turns, endearing, frustrating, snarky, like-able, utterly loathsome, timid, brash, sneaky, golden hearted and always fascinating to watch.
Perhaps the most important character on Coronation Street is the pub called The Rovers Return, usually referred to as The Rovers, which is the hub and heart of the Street.
The Rovers was owned by Annie Walker, below right, and staffed by everyone’s favorite barmaid and bottle blonde, Bet Lynch, at left.
The bar staff were rounded out by Betty and Fred, pictured below.
Other residents of the Street included Ena Sharples, who was the caretaker of the community center along with Albert Tatlock, and who spent much of her time criticising the activities of her neighbors. Mrs. Sharples was in the very first episode and spent the next twenty years as a regular cast member, making her final appearance in 1980. Actress Violet Carson received an OBE for her work in 1965.
Then there are Rita (a former exotic dancer) and Len Fairclough, who own a corner store called The Kabin.
Actress Barbara Knox is still playing Rita to this day. Rita was helped in the shop by the hapless, scatterbrained and unlucky in love Mavis Riley.
Also in the Street is the Corner Shop, owned by Renee Roberts
But the biggest employer in the Street has to be Mike Baldwin, factory and shop owner and local lothario
Comic relief is provided by Hilda and Stan, the always battling Ogdens. Stanley is a window washer, while Hilda cleans both at Mike’s factory and The Rovers.
In the background in the photo above can be seen Hilda’s “muriel,” of which she’s very proud. Geoffrey Hughes (Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances) played Stan’s mate and petty criminal Eddie Yeats. You can watch a compilation of Hilda and Stan clips here.
Of course, these are but a handful of the Street’s residents you’ll come to know and love if you should choose (dare?) to tune in. You might become a fan, as well. You’d be in good company – Benedict Cumberbatch is a huge fan of the show and discusses Corrie in this video clip made for the celebration of the show’s 50th Birthday. Even the Royals are apparently hooked on the Street. Here are some snaps taken when they visited the set.
Queen Elizabeth opened the new set in the 1982
Even Mrs. Thatcher stopped by The Rovers – and raised a glass with the cast
Click here to see an introduction to the new Corrie set, with a retrospective of the Street from the 1960’s through to today. And here’s an hour long special called Coronation Street: A Moving Story on how the residents of the Street felt about moving to the new studios and an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the building of the new set, as well as a retrospective of the past fifty years.
I’m off to watch another episode of classic Corrie – I’m up to March, 1980. Only thirty-four years to go!