|This article is written
from the Real World
point of view.
- This article is about the series. For the fictional street and main setting of the soap, see Coronation Street, Weatherfield.
It was created by Tony Warren, pitched as a kitchen sink drama serial about the domestic lives of the working class in the north of England, specifically the residents of the Coronation Street in the fictional town of Weatherfield in Greater Manchester. Since 1960 it has been produced by Granada Television and for most of that time it has been one of the UK's highest rated shows.
Coronation Street is often noted for its mixture of drama and comedy, usually shying away from the sensationalist and far-fetched plots associated with the genre, and for its emphasis on character-driven storylines. In a 2005 poll marking ITV's 50th anniversary, Coronation Street was voted the greatest ITV show of all time .
- "There was life before Coronation Street, but it didn't add up to much." - Russell Harty.
The brainchild of Tony Warren, Coronation Street was partly borne out of a desire by Granada bosses to produce more television drama set in the north of England, as they were contractually obliged to employ regional actors and production staff. Warren drew on his own memories of growing up in Swinton, Greater Manchester, and created Coronation Street (initially Florizel Street), a working class community inhabited by "ordinary" people leading unspectacular lives. The proposal was greenlit and went into production for broadcast on ITV. Warren wrote the first twelve episodes himself, and was responsible for the creation of all the original characters, including Ken Barlow, Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner and Annie Walker.
Despite a lack of support from inside Granada, and a mixed response from critics, Coronation Street was a hit with viewers, who were fascinated by the normality of the series and the characters, whose use of Northern English language and dialect allowed viewers to hear local words and accents rarely heard on television before. As the programme's popularity grew and grew, more ITV regions started picking up Coronation Street and by May 1961 it was fully networked throughout the UK. In September of that year it reached the top of the television ratings, where it stayed for the rest of the year.
Despite the passage of fifty years, together with changing characters, competition from other soaps and the evolution of the genre as well similar real-world communities, which the series has sometimes struggled to reflect, Coronation Street has remained popular and still frequently tops the ratings.
- Main article: Coronation Street (Weatherfield)
The fictional setting of the soap is Coronation Street in Weatherfield, a suburb of Greater Manchester. Within the narrative of the programme, the cobbled Street was built in 1902 and consists of a row of seven terraced houses, with the Rovers Return Inn pub and Corner Shop at either end.
Across the cobbles, the other side of the Street has housed a number of different buildings over the years, including a raincoat factory, Mission hall, warehouse, Community Centre and a block of two-storey maisonettes. Since 1990, three semi-detached houses and several small business properties, including newsagent The Kabin, Audrey's Salon, Websters' Auto Centre and underwear factory Underworld, have stood on the site.
As the programme's various outdoor sets have expanded, the area surrounding Coronation Street, particularly Rosamund Street and Victoria Street, have been gradually integrated into the show, with more flats and business properties including Roy's Rolls, cab firm Street Cars, Barlow's Bookies and the Builder's Yard. The houses and businesses provide accommodation and work for the programme's characters, with the action mostly centring on the Coronation Street area, although other areas of Weatherfield are seen occasionally.
- Main article: Coronation Street characters
When created by Tony Warren in 1960, the Coronation Street community was noted for being largely matriarchal, reflecting Warren's observations about its real-world counterparts in Manchester. As a result, particularly in its early years, Coronation Street featured many formidable female characters, who lorded it over their long-suffering husbands, or even the whole community. Many of the programme's most popular characters have been women of this type, including Hilda Ogden, Annie Walker, Vera Duckworth and Bet Gilroy.
As a working class community, most Coronation Street characters are not highly educated or particularly wealthy, with exceptions such as factory boss Mike Baldwin usually playing the role of the Street outsider, although several characters, including Annie Walker, Sally Webster, and originally Ken Barlow have considered themselves to be at least better than their "common" neighbours.
The popularity and longevity of many early characters has resulted in many of them becoming archetypes of British soap operas. Elsie Tanner, the original "tart with a heart", has had spiritual successors in Denise Osbourne and Liz McDonald, while Blanche Hunt and Maud Grimes have occupied the role of acid-tongued battle-axe originally held by Ena Sharples. Other archetypes include the grumpy old man, with examples including Albert Tatlock and Percy Sugden, and the pompous shopkeeper, illustrated by Leonard Swindley, Fred Elliott and Norris Cole. Speaking about the programme's use of archetypes, scriptwriter Daran Little said: "Rather, remember that Elsie, Ena and Co. were the first of their kind ever seen on British television. If later characters are stereotypes, it's because they are from the same original mould. It is the hundreds of programmes that have followed which have copied Coronation Street."
For much of its run, Coronation Street has had a strong emphasis on older characters, and still has a greater concentration of older cast members than other British soaps. Likewise, in its early years, there were few children in the show and only a handful of young characters, although the balance has somewhat shifted in recent years, with a greater diversity of character age groups.
Popularity and appeal
The series' first episode was broadcast live, a common practice among British television shows at the time. Until the series was fully networked the series was broadcast twice weekly, with the Friday episode shown live and the following Wednesday episode pre-recorded immediately afterwards. In 1961, the Friday episode was moved to Monday and all episodes started being pre-recorded.
Until 1969 the series was recorded in black and white and has been in colour ever since (with a few notable exceptions). Since then the show's output has increased from two episodes a week to five, with new weekly episodes introduced in 1989, 1996 and 2002.
In the UK Coronation Street has occupied an evening slot on ITV since it started and has been the flagship show of the channel since the early 1960s. It is currently (as of October 2017) broadcast six times a week at 19.30 and 20.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with repeats on ITV2 and a weekend omnibus shown on ITV1 and ITV2.
- Coronation Street at itv.com
- Coronation Street at stv.tv
- Coronation Street at u.tv
- News and updates from the show - CorrieBlog
- Coronation Street fan website
- Weekly episode review
- Link to CBC Show Page for Canadian Fans
- Coronation Street Weekly Updates, written for internet since 1995
- Coronation Street Updates and Fan Blog
- Corrie Canuck for Canadian Fans
- Coronation Street Chatter
- Today on the Street, a recap blog run by an American fan
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