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Coronation Street (1960- )

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Coronation Street (1960- )
Granada for ITV, 9/12/1960-
Over 7,400 x 22 min episodes, black and white/colour (from 1969)
CreatorTony Warren
Production CompanyGranada Television
Producers includeH.V. Kershaw, Bill Podmore, Jack Rosenthal, Mervyn Watson
Writers includeAdele Rose, Leslie Duxbury, John Stevenson, Peter Whalley, H.V. Kershaw, Julian Roach, Barry Hill, Brian Finch, John Finch, Martin Allen
Theme MusicEric Spear

Cast: William Roache (Ken Barlow); Helen Worth (Gail Tilsley/Platt); Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald); Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre Hunt/Langton/Barlow/Rachid); Sue Nicholls (Audrey Potter/Roberts); Barbara Knox (Rita Littlewood/Fairclough/Sullivan); Beverley Callard (Liz McDonald); Sally Dynevor (Sally Seddon/Webster); Eileen Derbyshire (Emily Nugent/Bishop); Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster); Jennie McAlpine (Fiz Brown); Antony Cotton (Sean Tully); Jack P. Shepherd (David Platt); Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole); Sue Cleaver (Eileen Grimshaw); Ryan Thomas (Jason Grimshaw); William Tarmey (Jack Duckworth); Samia Smith (Maria Sutherland Connor); Jane Danson (Leanne Battersby/Tilsley); Maggie Jones (Blanche Hunt); David Neilson (Roy Cropper); Vicky Entwistle (Janice Battersby); Kym Marsh (Michelle Connor); Betty Driver (Betty Turpin/Williams); Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs); Katherine Kelly (Becky McDonald/Granger)

Show full cast and credits

The lives of the people of Weatherfield, Salford, northern England.

Show full synopsis

Britain's longest-running television soap opera began broadcasting live in twice-weekly episodes in 1960. Creator Tony Warren, in a memorandum to Granada executives, wrote that its purpose was to explore "the driving forces behind life in a working-class street in the north of England" and "to entertain by examining a community of this kind."

Criticised - unfairly - for avoiding the tougher social realities addressed by other soaps, its writers latterly have tackled Alzheimer's disease, transsexualism, teenage pregnancy, bigamy and mental abuse. Only politics, it would seem, is off limits. But while retaining a strong regional identity and an unthreatening sense of working-class community, 'the Street' has largely preferred to entertain rather than engage in contemporary realism.

Celebrated for the quality of its writing (Jack Rosenthal, Paul Abbott, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Jonathan Harvey have all contributed episodes), the drama draws its emotional and structural strength from its ability to move effortlessly from the deeply moving to the downright silly - suicides are contemplated while parties swing. The oft-quoted statement that the show is 'character-led, not issue-led' is true. Vibrant writing, supported by fine acting, has created unique characters with whom viewers strongly identify. They can also become memorable archetypes - moral tyrant Ena Sharples; cruel-tongued busybody Blanche Hunt; Annie Walker, with aspirations to a better life in Babbacombe; intellectual idealist Ken Barlow.

Warren, openly homosexual, was greatly influenced by the matriarchal society he saw around him. Strong women have always been Coronation Street's stock-in-trade, a comic camp sensibility permeating the entire show. Characterisation is strengthened by beautifully observed iconic costuming: Elsie Tanner advancing along the cobbles wearing a belted trench coat and stilettos, Bet Lynch's animal prints, Roy Cropper's depressing shopping bag.

In almost fifty years, the show has strayed little from Warren's vision. Now five weekly episodes embrace many more storylines, the comedy element is consistently stronger, younger characters have equal prominence but, although location shooting has become more prevalent, the show still feels most comfortable in the confined and familiar spaces of the Kabin, Roy's Rolls café or the Rovers Return.

The Street feels contemporary yet retains a timeless quality. Unmoved in its primetime slot, it still regularly attracts audiences over 18 million. The soap's former archivist and writer, Daran Little, accounted for its critical and popular success: "I want to be entertained, I want to have a laugh and I want to be moved. For me that's what Coronation Street does."

Olwen Terris

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Opening titles - 1998 (0:19)
Albion Market (1985-86)
Coronation Street - The 1960s
Coronation Street - The 1970s
Coronation Street - The 1980s
Coronation Street - The 1990s
Coronation Street - The 2000s
Abbott, Paul (1960-)
Davies, Russell T. (1963- )
Lancashire, Sarah (1964-)
Lowe, Arthur (1915-1982)
Milne, Paula (1947-)
Rosenthal, Jack (1931-2004)
Warren, Tony (1937-)
Granada Television
Soap Opera