FROM the moment Coronation Street first aired live on December 9, 1960, millions have been gripped by the ups and downs of Weatherfield’s residents.
Its early days portrayed a realistic kitchen-sink drama showing the ordinary day-to-day lives of working-class northerners, and the show was considered ground-breaking.
Coronation Street first appeared on our screens in 1960
But not everyone liked it. One early critic wrote: “The programme is doomed from the outset . . . with its dreary signature tune and grim scenes of a row of terraced houses.”
Sixty years on and the signature tune and terraced houses are still there, but it’s what goes on inside them that has kept viewers hooked throughout the decades.
More than 21million people witnessed brassy barmaid Bet Lynch finally achieve her dream of becoming landlady of the Rovers Return in 1985.
And an incredible 26million saw much-loved gossip Hilda Ogden’s final scenes in the show on Christmas Day 1987.
Sixty years on and viewers are still hooked – here we look at what it is that kept us tuning inCredit: ITV
Meanwhile, more than 24million watched Ken and Deirdre Barlow’s 1981 wedding on ITV — more than those who switched on the channel to see Princess Diana marry Prince Charles two days later.
So what is it that keeps us tuning in? Here, we recall some of the serial’s best bits.
THERE have been 57 births on the cobbles — some of them quite literally.
Rosie Webster made her dramatic first appearance in the back of a cab just around the corner in Rosamund Street in 1990.
We’ve seen plenty of births on the cobbles, including that of David and Kylie Platt’s daughter Lily
Kevin Webster’s son Jack was born at home in Coronation Street in 2010, as was David and Kylie Platt’s daughter Lily in 2013.
THE 146 deaths on the show have ranged from natural causes to murder, suicide and the bizarre, including Anne Malone who froze to death inside the freezer unit at Freshco’s in 1998, after she developed an unhealthy crush on Curly Watts.
Many deaths, though, have been more poignant.
One of the most heartbreaking moments was Hayley Cropper’s death
Kylie Platt bled to death on the cobbles in husband David’s arms after being stabbed in 2016,
Hayley Cropper broke husband Roy’s heart when she took her own life in 2014.
And viewers needed their tissues when Vera Duckworth passed away peacefully from heart failure in 2008.
CLOCKING up 131 in total, the Street has never been short of a good wedding — thanks to the best efforts of Steve McDonald (seven) and Gail Platt (six).
The first was Jack and Annie Walker’s daughter Joan, who married Gordon Davies in 1961, while the most recent was Sally and Tim Metcalfe last month.
Steve McDonald and Tracy Barlow’s marriage was the shortest-lived, having fallen apart during the receptionCredit: ITV
Six optimistic couples have married each other twice — Gail and Brian Tilsley, Liz and Jim McDonald, Kevin and Sally Webster, Steve and Karen McDonald, Ken and Deirdre Barlow, and Nick and Leanne Tilsley.
But others have barely lasted past the vows, the shortest-lived being Steve McDonald and Tracy Barlow, which fell apart during the wedding reception in 2012.
ONE of the saddest send-offs was that of Sinead Osbourne, whose wicker coffin was decorated with colourful ribbons and flowers last year.
The funniest funeral was that of gigolo Lewis Archer.
Although Audrey Roberts was heartbroken, her boyfriend’s funeral was unusually funnyCredit: MCPIX Ltd 07778 526193
When heartbroken Audrey Roberts turned up at his 2019 farewell, she found it packed with a stream of other women all of a certain age.
Her love rival Claudia Colby read out a corny poem and argued publicly with Audrey — and the registrar went on so long that battleaxe Evelyn got out a flask.
THE Street has always specialised in rivalries, with many rumbling on for years.
Gail Platt and Eileen Grimshaw hate each other because Eileen’s son Todd cheated on Gail’s daughter Sarah.
Perhaps the most famous feud of all was that of Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin
And there’s no love lost between Carla Connor and Tracy Barlow, after Carla slept with Tracy’s husband Robert.
The first feud featured Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner, with busybody Ena disapproving of Elsie’s glamorous lifestyle.
Perhaps the most famous feud of all was that of intellectual Ken Barlow and spiv factory boss Mike Baldwin. It was made all the worse when Ken’s wife Deirdre had an affair with the cocky Cockney factory boss.
The story was so big that the 1983 episode where she ended the affair was announced on the scoreboard during a Manchester United game at Old Trafford.
OUT of the 75 pets that have featured, it’s hard to say who is top dog on the Street.
Perhaps the best-loved was Chesney Brown’s 13st Great Dane Schmeichel, who passed away in 2011 after being played by four different dogs during the pet’s time on the show.
Corrie has had plenty of animal stars, including Chesney Brown’s Great Dane Schmeichel
Actor Simon Gregson would undoubtedly vote for his character Steve McDonald’s pet pooch Rover. The hound was actually played by Simon’s own pet dog, Cookie.
Actress Samia Longchambon, meanwhile, said that her goodbye to Maria Connor’s black Labrador Ozzy in 2016 were the saddest scenes she has ever filmed.
There are plenty of other animals to add to the menagerie. Craig Tinker arrived on the cobbles with pet rat Darryl, young David Platt had his rabbit Barney.
And who can forget Mavis Riley’s budgie Harry (renamed Harriet after it laid an egg)?
The original 1960 cast
HERE are the original 20 Coronation Street characters from December 1960, together with – where applicable – the date the stars who played them passed away in real life.
Back row, from left: Harry Hewitt (Ivan Beavis, died 1997); Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth, died 1984); Ivan Cheveski (Ernst Walder, now aged 92); Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie, now 84); David Barlow (Alan Rothwell, now 83); Jack Walker (Arthur Leslie, died 1970); Extra Unnamed (William Croasdale), Frank Barlow (Frank Pemberton, died 1971); Ida Barlow (Noel Dyson, died 1995); Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant, died 1988).
Front row: Annie Walker (Doris Speed, died 1994); Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge, died 1991); Linda Cheveski (Anne Cunningham, now 83); Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix, died 1986); Ena Sharples (Violet Carson, died 1983); Christine Hardman (Christine Hargreaves, died 1984); Ken Barlow (William Roache, now 88); Policewoman (Penelope Davies, died 2013); Sue Cunningham (Patricia Shakesby, now 77); and Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol, died 1990).
LONG-TIME Coronation Street fan Michael Parkinson complained that the soap had become too brutal after two characters were tortured and murdered by Pat Phelan in 2017.
Although there have been 24 murders, there were only a handful in the show’s first 15 years.
Most of Corrie’s killers get caught, but Charlie Stubbs’s murderer Tracy Barlow is still at large
The first killing saw Elsie Tanner’s husband Steve pushed down the stairs in 1968. In the past 20 years, serial killers have upped the numbers.
They include smooth-talking villain Richard Hillman, who was responsible for three deaths, and brutal builder Pat Phelan – who clocked up a total of four victims.
Most killers eventually end up dead themselves or in jail, but two still currently reside happily in Weatherfield.
They are Tracy Barlow, who murdered her boyfriend Charlie Stubbs, and Gary Windass, who saw off loan shark Rick Neelan and was responsible for the death of Rana Habeeb, who died when the factory roof collapsed after Gary had tinkered with it.
THE course of true love rarely runs smoothly on the cobbles but some of the best-loved couples have spent as much time making love as war.
They include Jack and Vera Duckworth, Stan and Hilda Ogden, Steve and Karen McDonald and Steve and Tracy McDonald.
Lucky Ken Barlow has had 28 women in his lifeCredit: ITV
There have been 28 women in Ken Barlow’s life and Rita has received 15 proposals.
Others thankfully have had more peaceful romances.
Neither Roy nor Hayley Cropper had ever had a relationship before, but when they met in 1998 they soon realised they were soul mates.
THE show has been pushing the boundaries since it began.
In 1963 it announced that Sheila Birtles would kill herself, but after public outrage the scenes were re-written so the screen faded into blackness.
One of the most recent controversial storylines followed Yasmeen and GeoffCredit: ITV
In 1998 the series introduced Hayley, the first transsexual person in British soap history.
It tackled the taboo of male suicide in 2018, with the death of Aidan Connor after his secret battle with depression and also highlighted David Platt’s male rape ordeal in the same year.
More recently, viewers have been exposed to the harrowing coercive control storyline featuring Yasmeen and Geoff.
The show also broke new ground with Bethany Platt’s 2017 child sex exploitation story and modern-day slavery, with the story of nail bar worker Alina.
The dramatic storylines that kept viewers gripped
- 1964: Emily Nugent made a leap-year proposal to Leonard Swindley but jilted him at the altar after getting cold feet.
- 1965: Ena Sharples inherited No 11 and gleefully evicted sitting tenant Elsie Tanner. They brawled in the street.
- 1967: Ken Barlow was jailed after refusing to pay his fine for joining an illegal demo against the Vietnam War.
- 1967: A viaduct collapsed and a goods wagon crashed, leaving Ena Sharples trapped and Sonia Peters dead.
- 1969: A coach crash left 17 Street residents in hospital as they returned from a day-trip to the Lake District.
- 1971: Hours before Ken and Valerie Barlow were to emigrate to Jamaica, she was electrocuted by a faulty hairdryer.
- 1977: Plans for a Queen’s Silver Jubilee parade float were scrapped when Stan Ogden left the lights on, draining the battery.
- 1978: Mike Baldwin interrupted an armed robbery at his factory and clerk Ernie Bishop was shot dead.
- 1978: Hilda Ogden’s famously wonky flying ducks arrived after her mural of the Rockies was ruined by Stan’s overflowing bath.
- 1978: A lorry full of timber crashed into the Rovers. Deirdre Barlow feared her baby daughter Tracy was trapped.
- 1983: The explosive love-triangle between Deirdre Barlow, her husband Ken and Deirdre’s lover Mike Baldwin had the nation gripped.
- 1986: Kevin Webster heroically rescued unconscious Bet Lynch in her nightie after the Rovers caught fire at night.
- 1987: Hilda Ogden said goodbye to Weatherfield in 1987 and moved to Derbyshire as a doctor’s housekeeper.
- 1989: After Gail Tilsley told husband Brian she wanted a divorce, he went out drinking but ended up being fatally stabbed when he tried to stop thugs attacking a woman.
- 1989: Alan Bradley chased terrified Rita Fairclough along Blackpool prom, but ran into an oncoming tram.
- 1991: Bet Lynch talked Ken out of taking a fatal mix of pills and alcohol on New Year’s Eve after he failed to win back Deirdre.
- 1993: Supermarket boss Reg Holdsworth persuaded Maureen Naylor to help christen his new waterbed, but it sprang a leak.
- 1995: Tracy collapsed after taking Ecstasy. Stepdad Samir planned to donate a kidney but was killed by a mugger on his way to hospital.
- 1998: Deirdre was framed for fraud and sentenced to 18 months in prison after getting tangled up with fake-pilot conman Jon Lindsay.
- 1999: Roy Cropper married transsexual Hayley.
- 2000: Steve McDonald fell foul of villain Jez Quigley. Dad Jim beat up Jez, who later died from his injuries. Jim was sentenced to eight years in jail.
- 2000: Aged 13, schoolgirl Sarah Platt gave birth to daughter Bethany.
- 2001: Much-loved Alma Baldwin died of cervical cancer, surrounded by her family and friends.
- 2003: Twisted serial killer Richard Hillman kidnapped the Platt family and tried to kill them by driving them into the canal.
- 2006: Lying on the cobbles in the arms of his arch-nemesis Ken Barlow, Mike Baldwin died after suffering a heart attack.
- 2007: Tracy Barlow was jailed after murdering evil boyfriend Charlie Stubbs by hitting him with a miniature statue.
- 2010: Tony Gordon held Carla Connor and Hayley Cropper hostage in the Underworld factory but died when the building exploded.
- 2010: The spectacular tram crash in the live 50th anniversary episode resulted in Molly Dobbs and Ashley Peacock dying.
- 2014: Tragic Hayley Cropper took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
- 2015: Kylie Platt killed Callum Logan in a live episode. David, Kylie and Sarah took advantage of building work at their house to bury the body there.
- 2018: After shooting Michelle Connor at her own wedding, evil Pat Phelan was fatally stabbed by Anna Windass.
MANY famous faces have graced the cobbles over the years – some when they were starting out in their careers, others as household names and fans keen to add a Corrie cameo to their CV.
Here, we reveal some of the biggest stars to appear on Britain’s best-known street before – and after – they found wider fame.
During eight episodes in 1973, Ken Barlow went out with headmaster’s daughter Elaine Perkins, played by Joanna LumleyCredit: Rex Features
But they were only pals and he grew jealous of her friendships with other menCredit: Rex Features
Mel B enjoyed a stint as Amy Nelson on the checkouts at Bettabuys in 1993 before joining the Spice Girls the following yearCredit: WENN
In 1997, Peter Kay played a shopfitter hired by Fred Elliott to refurbish the corner shop – and in 2004 he was drayman Eric Gartside, who had a disastrous date with Shelley UnwinCredit: Granada Television
Darts champ Phil Taylor scored a bullseye with fans in 2009 when he turned up as Disco Dave at the Rovers to throw a few arrows with Kevin Webster and Kirk Sutherland
Sarah Harding appeared in four episodes as Joni Preston – she came in all guns blazing in 2015 after discovering her ex-husband Robert was smitten with Tracy BarlowCredit: ITV
Conman author Mel Hutchwright – played by Sir Ian McKellen – tricked Norris, Emily and Blanche in 2005 before Ken Barlow unveiled him as a fraudCredit: ITV
Michael Ball appeared in two episodes in 1985 as posh tennis coach Malcolm NuttallCredit: Rex Features
Before he was Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle, Jeff Hordley played a nightclub manager in 1997 and camp theatre director Wayne in 1998
In a live 40th anniversary episode in 2000, the Prince of Wales appeared in a TV news bulletin meeting Weatherfield councillor Audrey RobertsCredit: PA:Press Association
EastEnders’ Dot Cotton played Mrs Parsons in 1970 – Ena Sharples took an interest in her son Tony’s musical talents and befriended herCredit: Rex Features
Homeland actor Linus Roache played Peter Barlow – son of Ken (Bill Roache, his real-life dad) – in the 1970s Credit: ITV
She made her name as snooty Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances but in 1961 Patricia Routledge had a month as cafe owner Sylvia SnapeCredit: Rex Features
Former Bond Girl Honor Blackman played flirty pensioner Rula Romanoff in 2004Credit: ITV
Who’s who in Street crew
DUE to Covid restrictions, the cast could not get together for a 60th anniversary photo, so we’ve used their last group shot from the 50th anniversary (see above).
Character name – actor name
- Sunita Alahan – Shobna Gulati
- Dev Alahan – Jimmi Harkishin
- Baby Liam Connor – Ollie and Elliott Barnett
- Kirk Sutherland – Andrew Whyment
- Claire Peacock – Julia Haworth
- Maria Connor – Samia Longchambon
- Carla Connor – Alison King
- Ashley Peacock – Steven Arnold
- Nick Tilsley – Ben Price
- Claudia Colby – Rula Lenska
- Chesney Brown – Sam Aston
- Bill Webster – Peter Armitage
- Fiz Stape – Jennie McAlpine
- Eileen Grimshaw – Sue Cleaver
- Cheryl Gray – Holly Quin-Ankrah
- John Stape – Graeme Hawley
- Chris Gray – Will Thorp
- Trevor Dean – Steve Jackson
- Ciaran McCarthy – Keith Duffy
- Michelle Connor – Kum Marsh
- Gary Windass – Mikey North
- Ryan Connor – Ben Thompson
- Lloyd Mullaney – Craig Charles
- Anna Windass – Debbie Rush
- Eddie Windass – Steve Hudson
- Aadi Alahan – Zennon Ditchett
- Asha Alahan – Tanisha Gorey
- Peter Barlow – Chris Gascoyne
- Katy Armstrong – Georgia May Foote
- Leanne Battersby – Jane Danson
- Owen Armstrong – Ian Puleston-Davies
- Audrey Roberts – Sue Nicholls
- Janice Battersby – Vicky
- Gail Platt (was McIntyre at the time) – Helen Worth
- Natasha Blakeman – Rachel Leskovac
- Julie Carp – Katy Cavanagh
- David Platt – Jack P Shepherd
- Jason Grimshaw – Ryan Thomas
- Tina McIntyre – Michelle Keegan
- Graeme Proctor – Craig Gazey
- Sean Tully – Antony Cotton
- Sian Powers – Sacha Parkinson
- Mary Taylor – Patti Clare
- Hayley Cropper – Julie Hesmondhalgh
- Norris Cole – Malcolm Hebdon
- Roy Cropper – David Neilson
- Tyrone Dobbs – Alan Halsall
- Molly Dobbs – Vicky Binns
- Pam Hobsworth – Kate Anthony
- Izzy Armstrong – Cherylee Houston
- Russ Gray – Finton Flynn
- Simon Barlow – Alex Bain
- Betty Williams – Betty Driver
- Rita Sullivan – Barbara Knox
- Sally Webster – Sally Dynevor
- Kevin Webster – Michael Le Vell
- Deirdre Barlow – Anne Kirkbride
- Rosie Webster – Helen Flanagan
- Ken Barlow – William Roache
- Sophie Webster – Brooke Vincent
- Emily Bishop – Eileen Derbyshire
- Liz McDonald – Beverly Callard
- Jack Duckworth – Bill Tarmey
- Steve McDonald – Simon Gregson
- Becky McDonald – Katherine Kelly
- Kylie Turner – Paula Lane
- Amy Barlow – Elle Mulvaney
- Joshua Peacock – Benjamin Beresford
- Freddie Peacock – Niall and Luke Beresford
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