Friday, September 21, 2007
Coronation Street is an award winning British soap opera. It is the longest-running television soap opera in the United Kingdom, first broadcast on Friday 9 December 1960 in the Granada region of ITV. The programme is consistently the highest-rated programme on British television.
Characters and characterisations
The serial began on 9 December 1960 and was not initially a critical success. Granada Television commissioned only 13 episodes and some inside the company doubted the show would last its planned production run.
The show's production team was tested when many core cast members left the programme in the early 1970s. When Arthur Leslie died suddenly in 1970, his character, Rovers landlord Jack Walker, died with him.
Between 1980 and 1989, Coronation Street underwent some of the biggest changes since its launch. By May 1984, Ken Barlow stood as the only original cast member, after the departures of Ena Sharples (in 1980), Annie Walker (in 1983), Elsie Tanner (in 1984) and Albert Tatlock (also 1984). The feud between Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin would continue for many years, with Mike even marrying Ken's daughter, Susan. In 1986 there was a fire at the Rovers Return, and between 1986 and 1989, the story of Rita Fairclough's psychological abuse at the hands of Alan Bradley (Mark Eden), and his subsequent death under the wheels of a Blackpool tram, was played out. The show's highest rated episode (26.6 million viewers) came in 1987, when Hilda Ogden left the show. Other stories included: the birth of Nicky Tilsley in 1980, Elsie Tanner's departure and Stan Ogden's funeral in 1984, the birth of Sarah-Louise Tilsley in 1987, and Brian Tilsley's murder in 1989.
New characters were introduced, such as Kevin and Sally Webster, Curly Watts (Kevin Kennedy), Martin Platt (Sean Wilson), Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley) and the McDonald family.
In spite of updated sets and production changes, Coronation Street still received criticism. In 1992, chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council, Lord Rees-Mogg, criticised the low-representation of ethnic minorities and the programme's portrayal of the cosy familiarity of a bygone era. Some newspapers ran headlines such as 'Coronation Street shuts out blacks' (The Times) and 'Put colour in t'Street' (Daily Mirror).
On 8 December 2000, the show celebrated its fortieth year by broadcasting a live, hour-long, episode. The Prince of Wales made a cameo in the episode, appearing in a pre-recorded segment as himself in an ITV News bulletin report, presented by Trevor McDonald. The character of Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones) was developed, with her fiery marriage to Steve and warring with Tracy Barlow. Tracy would go on to receive a life sentence in March 2007 for murdering lover Charlie Stubbs.
In 2004, Coronation Street retconned the Baldwin family when Mike's nephew Danny Baldwin and his wife Frankie moved to the area from Essex, with their two sons Jamie and Warren. Until this time, Mike Baldwin had been portrayed as an only child, with his father appearing in the programme between 1980 and 1982 confirming the fact.
Between 2000 and 2007, a range of other storylines featured, such as the bigamy of Peter Barlow, Maya Sharma's revenge on former lover Dev Alahan, Katy Harris murdering her father and subsequently committing suicide, Charlie Stubbs's psychological abuse of Shelley Unwin and the deaths of Mike Baldwin and Fred Elliott.
Between 9 December 1960 and 3 March 1961, Coronation Street was broadcast twice weekly, on Monday and Friday. The last regular episode to be shown live aired on 3 February 1961. From episode one until 19 November 1969, the programme was broadcast in black and white. Broadcast switched to colour from 24 November 1969, but in October 1970 a technician's strike at a film developing company affected the entire ITV network and virtually all the programming on ITV had to return to using black and white, including Coronation Street. The strike was resolved in early 1971 and the last black and white episode aired on 8 February 1971. It is notable that the first "colour" episode actually still had the locations in Black & White- there was no colour film available for the shoot, although the videotaped studio scenes in the episodes were in colour.
Coronation Street's creator, Tony Warren wrote the first 13 episodes of the programme in 1960, and continued to write for the programme intermittently until 1976. The current Executive Producer is Kieran Roberts with Steve Frost as Producer. Both have been producers on "Emmerdale" previously.
The show's theme music, a solo cornet piece, with clarinet and double bass accompaniment, reminiscent of northern band music, was written by Eric Spear and has been only slightly modified since its debut.
For 47 years, Coronation Street has remained at the centre of ITV's prime time schedule. The programme is currently shown in five episodes, over four evenings a week on ITV1.
From 9 December 1960 until 27 February 1961, the programme was shown in two episodes broadcast Monday and Friday at 19.00.
Coronation Street is also shown in many countries worldwide, being the centre of the TV schedule in Ireland where the programme is aired on the TV3 Television Network, where it is simulcast with ITV1 in the UK.
Several classic episodes were released on VHS video in the 1980s and 1990s in different sets, while a number of specially recorded feature-length episodes were released exclusively to video (see Coronation Street VHS and DVD releases).
The Street, a magazine dedicated to the show, was launched in 1989. Edited by Bill Hill, the magazine contained a summary of recent storylines, interviews, articles about classic episodes, and stories that occurred from before 1960. The format was initially A5 size, expanding to A4 from the seventh issue.
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