Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Coronation Street - The 1980s

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment

Main image of Coronation Street - The 1980s
Granada for ITV, tx. 9/12/1960-
Bi-weekly 25 min episodes, colour
Production CompanyGranada Television
Created byTony Warren
Writers includePaul Abbott, Leslie Duxbury, Brian Finch, Barry Hill, H.V. Kershaw, Stephen Mallatratt, Bob Mason, Kay Mellor, Tony Perrin, Julian Roach, Adele Rose, John Stevenson, Peter Tonkinson, Peter Whalley

Cast: William Roache (Ken Barlow); Eileen Derbyshire (Emily Bishop/Swain); Betty Driver (Betty Turpin/Williams); Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch/Gilroy); Bryan Mosley (Alf Roberts); Bill Kenwright (Gordon Clegg); Violet Carson (Ena Sharples); Anne Cunningham (Linda Cheveski); Jack Howarth (Albert Tatlock); Patricia Phoenix (Elsie Tanner); Doris Speed (Annie Walker); Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough); Ken Farrington (Billy Walker); Jack Watson (Bill Gregory); Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden), Bernard Youens (Stan Ogden)

Show full cast and credits

The lives of various people in a town in the North of England.

Show full synopsis

Coronation Street faced the first real challenge to its soap supremacy in the 1980s with the arrival of Channel 4's Brookside (1982-2003) and the BBC's EastEnders (1985- ), both promoted as portraying real life in real locations, in opposition to the Street, which many believed had sought security in less challenging, largely studio-bound, comedy-drama.

By May 1984, Ken Barlow stood alone of the original cast, and the press predicted the Street's downfall. The producers reacted by consolidating the archetypal and popular characters audiences knew - Phyllis Pearce was fĂȘted as the new Ena Sharples, while Percy Sugden took on the mantle of the belligerent war veteran Albert Tatlock. Never at ease with reflecting Lancashire's multi-racial communities, the show nevertheless introduced its first regular black character, machinist Shirley Armitage, in 1983.

Storylines of muggings, suicide bids and bigamy continued, but it was Ken's wedding to Deirdre Langton in 1981 that drew 24 million viewers, a figure which Granada was happy to see (inaccurately) promoted as a bigger audience than that for the real-life wedding of Charles and Diana two days later. The most successful storyline in the soap's history relied on the enduring appeal of the eternal triangle - the affair between Deirdre and Mike Baldwin in 1983. The liaison became the first soap storyline to attract nationwide attention when Deirdre's decision to return to Ken was conveyed live to thousands of football fans (courtesy of the Daily Mail) via the electronic scoreboard at Old Trafford, where Manchester United was playing Arsenal.

In the 1980s, the Street began its admirable policy of allowing psychologically complex stories to develop over many months. Between 1986 and 1989, Alan Bradley's psychological abuse of Rita Fairclough, and his subsequent death under a Blackpool tram, provided the soap with consistently high viewing figures and an iconic image. The highest rated episode (26.6 million) came in 1987, when Hilda Ogden left the show on Christmas Day.

In 1988 producer Bill Podmore was replaced by David Liddiment as executive producer with Mervyn Watson as producer. Anxious to make the Street more visually diverse, Liddiment expanded sets, built new shops and houses, increased location filming and introduced a third weekly episode in October 1989. The durability of the soap format, the fine ensemble acting, and the show's unique ability to blend pathos with comedy ensured that the Street's popularity and high primetime ratings continued into its fourth decade.

Olwen Terris

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Wedding preparations (2:00)
2. Nuptials (2:26)
3. A toast (2:19)
Complete episode 27/7/81 - Part 1 (14:38)
Complete episode 27/7/81 - Part 2 (11:08)
Coronation Street (1960- )
Coronation Street - The 1960s
Coronation Street - The 1970s
Coronation Street - The 1990s
Coronation Street - The 2000s
Abbott, Paul (1960-)