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Coronation Street - The 1990s

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Coronation Street - The 1990s
Granada for ITV, tx. 9/12/1960-
25 min episodes, three and four times weekly, colour
Production CompanyGranada Television
Created byTony Warren
Writers includePeter Whalley, John Stevenson, Adele Rose, Phil Woods, Barry Hill, Stephen Mallatratt, Julian Roach, Martin Allen, Ken Blakeson, Tom Elliott, Mark Wadlow, Sally Wainwright, Catherine Hayes, Paul Abbott, Patrea Smallacombe, Frank Cottrell Boyce

Cast: Owen Aaronvitch (Jon Lindsay); Amanda Barrie (Alma Baldwin); Peter Baldwin (Derek Wilton); Thelma Barlow (Mavis Wilton); Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro); Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Patterson); Geoff Hinsliff (Don Brennan); Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre Barlow/Rachid); Sarah Lancashire (Raquel Wolstenhulme); Ken Morley (Reg Holdsworth); William Roache (Ken Barlow)

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The everyday trials of life for the inhabitants of a North-Western town.

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Viewers who rued that Coronation Street had long abandoned its working-class realism for broad comic appeal would find little in the 1990s to dispel their fears. Audiences are likely to remember the decade for its great comic scenes - Ken Barlow struggling to teach Raquel Wolstenhulme French ("voulez-vous coucher avec moi, Ken?") or Reg Holdsworth's ill-fated seduction scene on a leaky waterbed. Even the tragic bore strong elements of black comedy - Terry Duckworth selling his baby to the highest bidder and a deranged and vengeful Don Brennan kidnapping Alma and driving into the canal (a device that has served the Street well since).

The soap's strongest story came with the wrongful imprisonment of Deirdre Rachid, who fell prey to a con man, Jon Lindsay. Some 19 million viewers heard Deirdre cry from the dock - 'I didn't... do... any of it', a declaration of innocence that led swiftly to the media campaign 'Free the Weatherfield One'; supportive comment was even made in the House of Commons by the then prime minister, Tony Blair.

The show lost three of its most experienced writers in the decade - Adele Rose, Julian Roach and Barry Hall. In 1996 a fourth (Sunday) episode was added to the weekly schedule. In the same year Brian Park was appointed as producer, replacing Sue Pritchard. Park cut a swathe through older members of the cast, with casualties including the extremely popular confectionery and stationery salesman Derek Wilton, whose departure provoked the equally popular comedienne Thelma Barlow (who played Derek's wife, Mavis) to resign in protest. The producer also introduced storylines designed to appeal to the younger viewers, including eco-warriors and drug dealing. After a reign of just over a year, he left claiming as his greatest achievement giving the nation its first transsexual woman, Hayley Patterson, in a soap.

In 1992, Broadcasting Standards Council chairman Lord Rees-Mogg added his voice to the persistent criticism that the Street wilfully failed to represent ethnic characters. Viewers and the media were quick to defend the show, pointing out that the 1991 census showed that Salford (the nearest town to fictional Weatherfield) was 97.8% white. Patrick Stoddart of The Times responded: "The millions who watch Coronation Street - and will continue to do so despite Lord Rees-Mogg - know real life when they see it. It is the most confident and accomplished soap opera television has ever seen."

Olwen Terris

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Video Clips
1. Deirdre - the verdict (1:32)
2. Kevin and Sally (1:09)
3. 'I didn't do any of it!' (2:37)
Complete episode 29/3/98 Part 1 (11:17)
Complete episode 29/3/98 Part 2 (12:22)
Coronation Street (1960- )
Coronation Street - The 1960s
Coronation Street - The 1970s
Coronation Street - The 1980s
Coronation Street - The 2000s
Lancashire, Sarah (1964-)