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Title caption 1977-82

1981 was Coronation Street's twenty-second year.

Main characters

Ranking Character Played by Duration Number of Episodes Running total Previous year's ranking
1Elsie TannerPatricia PhoenixFull year8214613
2Len FaircloughPeter AdamsonFull year8016561
2Fred GeeFred FeastFull year803647
4Rita FaircloughBarbara KnoxFull year746618
5Ken BarlowWilliam RoacheFull year73140217
6Bet LynchJulie GoodyearFull year7281710
7Deirdre Langton/BarlowAnne KirkbrideFull year7053018
7Hilda OgdenJean AlexanderFull year7011956
9Alf RobertsBryan MosleyFull year696889
10Bert TilsleyPeter DudleyFull year6817516
11Annie WalkerDoris SpeedFull year6815932
12Mavis RileyThelma BarlowFull year6448511
13Mike BaldwinJohnny BriggsFull year6229019
13Ivy TilsleyLynne PerrieFull year622654
15Albert TatlockJack HowarthFull year58120921
15Betty TurpinBetty DriverFull year5887111
15Eddie YeatsGeoffrey HughesFull year583704
18Stan OgdenBernard YouensFull year56109113
19Eunice Nuttall/GeeMeg JohnsonMarch to December5454 -
20Emily BishopEileen DerbyshireFull year53118013
21Brian TilsleyChristopher QuintenFull year5015220
22Gail TilsleyHelen WorthFull year4939313
23Tracy LangtonChristabel FinchFull year4318122
24Nick TilsleyWarren JacksonJanuary to June and August to November4242 -
25Vera DuckworthElizabeth DawnJanuary, March, May and from July3314224
26Audrey PotterSue NichollsJanuary and September to November244628
27Ida CloughHelene PalmerJanuary, March and from July238427
28Jack DuckworthWilliam TarmeyMay and August to September810 -
29Susan BarlowSuzy PatersonJuly only43430
29Alma SedgewickAmanda BarrieJune to July44 -
29Blanche HuntMaggie JonesJuly only498 -
32Arnold SwainGeorge WaringMarch only34223

Production

Farewell Grape Street

Speed 1981

Doris Speed marks the start of construction on the new set

Bill Podmore produced Coronation Street for the sixth year in a row. This would be the last in which Podmore alone was in charge from start to finish.

A decision was made to build a new outdoor set to replace the Grape Street set. Although it was still in good shape, the current backlot had a number of problems which could not be solved without building an entirely new street. The main one was its small scale, which was particularly glaring in shots featuring large vehicles. The tops of the houses couldn't be shown nor anything past the Rovers Return, as the roofs didn't have chimneys and a set of gates lay where Rosamund Street should be. In addition, there was a lack of drainage facilities for rainwater, and a bonded warehouse immediately behind the set constantly cast it in shadow. Finally, it was notorious among the cast for being cold and damp, with Jean Alexander dubbing it "the coldest place on Earth".

Late in the year, Granada purchased a former railway marshalling yard on the opposite side of the bonded warehouse at Tickle Street, Camp Street and Garden Court, for Coronation Street's new set. The build included the houses, Baldwin's Casuals, the Community Centre and flat, a purpose-built viaduct, and a section of Rosamund Street. The houses were built from bricks reclaimed from demolition sites, and the roofs - containing fibreglass chimneys - from reclaimed slates, though the cobbles were already in place. Construction began on 12th November, after a ceremony conducted by Doris Speed, and carried on into 1982.

A major change was made to the street when it was decided to replace the gap at the centre of the row with a new house. Within storylines, 7 Coronation Street had collapsed in 1965 and the space had been filled by a bench since 1967. In the present day, Len Fairclough bought the ground rent and began building the new property in the space. The story was timed so that Len would finish the job just as the programme transferred to the new set, which was built with a fully completed house. Although frequently referenced, the building work was never seen due to size restrictions at Grape Street.

Passing through

1981 cast

1981 cast

Like the last few years, long-term additions to the cast were few and far between. The only regular cast member who lasted the year was Warren Jackson as Nick Tilsley, baby son of Gail and Brian who was born the previous December. Sue Nicholls made several guest appearances as her character Audrey Potter became a grandmother. Audrey was also paired romantically with future husband Alf Roberts for the first time.

Fred Gee gained a wife in Eunice Nuttall, played by Meg Johnson. The Gees briefly worked as caretakers at the Community Centre until Eunice left Fred at the end of the year. This was the first time that another character had held Ena Sharples's position since the departure of Violet Carson from the programme.

Amanda Barrie was seen in four episodes as Alma Sedgewick, initially appearing as Elsie Tanner's overbearing boss at Jim's Cafe as she stood in for her ever-absent husband Jim Sedgewick. She would be seen occasionally before joining full-time in 1989.

Meanwhile, Emily Bishop's bigamy storyline was revisited in March when Arnold Swain re-surfaced and attempted to convince her to join him in a suicide pact. Arnold was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he received an off-screen death in December. Also, the Faircloughs became foster parents when Len and Rita took in 13-year-old John Spencer. This storyline would be taken further in 1982.

The wedding of Ken Barlow and Deirdre Langton in July featured appearances by Maggie Jones as Blanche Hunt and Suzy Paterson as Susan Barlow, with the latter playing her character for the last time before the previous actress, Wendy Jane Walker, stepped back into the role. Lastly, William Tarmey returned for a longer stint as Jack Duckworth following his 1979 introduction, testing the waters for his full-time role which would begin in 1983.

Viewing figures

1981 ratings

Ratings chart for the year

Coronation Street continued to gain traction, increasing its overall rating for the third year in a row. Its average viewing figure was 15.88 million viewers, the second highest average of the decade after 1985, and the top rated episode - 2075 on 18th February which gained 20.8 million viewers - was the highest peak since 1977 and the first episode of the programme to gain more than twenty million viewers since 1978.

Across the year, the first eight months saw increases from the same months in 1980, with May, July and August gaining by more than 10%. In the weekly viewing charts, 32 episodes reached number one - 18 higher than in 1980, and the most since 1968.

An ongoing myth is that more viewers watched Episode 2120 (Ken and Deirdre's wedding) than tuned into the real-life Royal Wedding two days later of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. This story came about because the official television figures were for the average number of viewers throughout the duration of the state occasion. The wedding figures for the three channels' multi-hour coverage was 13,700,000 for BBC1, putting them in 3rd place, and 8,000,000 for ITV but the actual ceremony itself attracted 19,000,000 for BBC1, 9,000,000 for ITV and 400,000 on BBC2, which carried subtitles for the hard of hearing. In second place for the week was coverage of the Royal Fireworks on BBC1 on 28th July which garnered 15,100,000 viewers.

Episodes

# Ep.
No.
Date Writer Director Viewing
Figures
Chart
Position
12062Monday 5th JanuaryLeslie DuxburyMary McMurray18,300,0004
22063Wednesday 7th JanuaryBarry HillMary McMurray19,750,0002
32064Monday 12th JanuaryH.V. KershawStephen Butcher17,600,0002
42065Wednesday 14th JanuaryDave SimpsonStephen Butcher18,100,0001
52066Monday 19th JanuaryAdele RosePhilip Draycott17,050,0003
62067Wednesday 21st JanuaryJulian RoachPhilip Draycott17,400,0002
72068Monday 26th JanuaryJohn StevensonJohn Michael Phillips17,750,0003
82069Wednesday 28th JanuaryGeoffrey LancashireJohn Michael Phillips18,050,0002
92070Monday 2nd FebruaryPeter WhalleyStephen Butcher17,100,0003
102071Wednesday 4th FebruaryJohn StevensonStephen Butcher17,350,0002
112072Monday 9th FebruaryH.V. KershawPhilip Draycott17,250,0003
122073Wednesday 11th FebruaryTony PerrinPhilip Draycott17,500,0002
132074Monday 16th FebruaryAdele RoseNicholas Ferguson17,600,0004
142075Wednesday 18th FebruaryLeslie DuxburyNicholas Ferguson20,800,0001
152076Monday 23rd FebruaryLeslie DuxburyJohn Michael Phillips17,750,0001
162077Wednesday 25th FebruaryH.V. KershawJohn Michael Phillips17,200,0004
172078Monday 2nd MarchBarry HillKenny McBain18,050,0003
182079Wednesday 4th MarchJohn StevensonKenny McBain18,400,0002
192080Monday 9th MarchJulian RoachNicholas Ferguson17,350,0003
202081Wednesday 11th MarchAdele RoseNicholas Ferguson17,500,0002
212082Monday 16th MarchH.V. KershawJohn Michael Phillips17,750,0003
222083Wednesday 18th MarchPeter WhalleyJohn Michael Phillips19,000,0001
232084Monday 23rd MarchH.V. KershawBill Gilmour16,850,0004
242085Wednesday 25th MarchLeslie DuxburyCharles Kitchen18,800,0001
252086Monday 30th MarchTony PerrinDavid Carson16,198,0003
262087Wednesday 1st AprilJohn StevensonNicholas Ferguson16,860,0002
272088Monday 6th AprilH.V. KershawJonathan Wright-Miller15,182,0005
282089Wednesday 8th AprilBarry HillJonathan Wright-Miller16,851,0001
292090Monday 13th AprilPeter WhalleyCharles Kitchen15,411,0002
302091Wednesday 15th AprilAdele RoseCharles Kitchen15,402,0003
312092Monday 20th AprilLeslie DuxburyDavid Carson9,345,000n/k
322093Wednesday 22nd AprilLeslie DuxburyDavid Carson16,338,0002
332094Monday 27th AprilDave SimpsonRichard Holthouse15,211,0002
342095Wednesday 29th AprilLeslie DuxburyRichard Holthouse16,162,0001
352096Monday 4th MayAdele RoseCharles Kitchen15,629,0002
362097Wednesday 6th MayBarry HillCharles Kitchen15,732,0001
372098Monday 11th MayH.V. KershawDavid Carson14,750,0006
382099Wednesday 13th MayTony PerrinDavid Carson15,950,0001
392100Monday 18th MayH.V. KershawRichard Holthouse15,600,0002
402101Wednesday 20th MayTony PerrinRichard Holthouse16,350,0001
412102Monday 25th MayAdele RoseCharles Kitchen10,850,00020
422103Wednesday 27th MayLeslie DuxburyCharles Kitchen11,750,00011
432104Monday 1st JunePeter WhalleyDavid Carson13,900,0004
442105Wednesday 3rd JuneJulian RoachDavid Carson14,800,0002
452106Monday 8th JuneTony PerrinGareth Jones14,600,0002
462107Wednesday 10th JuneAdele RoseGareth Jones15,100,0001
472108Monday 15th JuneH.V. KershawCharles Kitchen14,150,0005
482109Wednesday 17th JuneH.V. KershawCharles Kitchen16,300,0001
492110Monday 22nd JuneBarry HillRichard Holthouse14,200,0002
502111Wednesday 24th JuneLeslie DuxburyRichard Holthouse16,100,0001
512112Monday 29th JuneH.V. KershawJohn Michael Phillips14,150,0001
522113Wednesday 1st JulyAdele RoseJohn Michael Phillips13,850,0002
532114Monday 6th JulyBarry HillCharles Kitchen14,700,0001
542115Wednesday 8th JulyPeter WhalleyCharles Kitchen14,500,0002
552116Monday 13th JulyLeslie DuxburyGareth Jones14,750,0002
562117Wednesday 15th JulyJohn StevensonGareth Jones15,100,0001
572118Monday 20th JulyBarry HillJohn Michael Phillips14,100,0003
582119Wednesday 22nd JulyTony PerrinJohn Michael Phillips15,250,0001
592120Monday 27th JulyLeslie DuxburyCharles Kitchen15,350,0001
602121Wednesday 29th JulyH.V. KershawCharles Kitchen12,200,0005
612122Monday 3rd AugustJulian RoachDavid Carson13,400,0002
622123Wednesday 5th AugustJohn StevensonDavid Carson13,750,0001
632124Monday 10th AugustH.V. KershawRichard Holthouse14,450,0001
642125Wednesday 12th AugustBob MasonRichard Holthouse13,900,0002
652126Monday 17th AugustAdele RoseKen Grieve14,150,0003
662127Wednesday 19th AugustTony PerrinJune Wyndham Davies15,400,0001
672128Monday 24th AugustLeslie DuxburyDavid Carson14,250,0001
682129Wednesday 26th AugustJohn StevensonDavid Carson13,150,0003
692130Monday 31st AugustH.V. KershawRichard Holthouse11,820,00010
702131Wednesday 2nd SeptemberPeter WhalleyRichard Holthouse14,250,0001
712132Monday 7th SeptemberJohn StevensonGareth Jones14,500,0003
722133Wednesday 9th SeptemberLeslie DuxburyGareth Jones14,150,0004
732134Monday 14th SeptemberTony PerrinDavid Carson15,750,0001
742135Wednesday 16th SeptemberJulian RoachDavid Carson13,900,0004
752136Monday 21st SeptemberTony PerrinBrian Mills16,150,0001
762137Wednesday 23rd SeptemberAdele RoseGareth Morgan14,800,0004
772138Monday 28th SeptemberH.V. KershawGareth Jones15,100,0004
782139Wednesday 30th SeptemberBarry HillGareth Jones15,900,0002
792140Monday 5th OctoberJohn StevensonCharles Kitchen15,750,0002
802141Wednesday 7th OctoberLeslie DuxburyCharles Kitchen15,650,0003
812142Monday 12th OctoberPeter WhalleyGareth Jones16,600,0002
822143Wednesday 14th OctoberLeslie DuxburyBrian Mills16,650,0001
832144Monday 19th OctoberLeslie DuxburyGareth Jones16,900,0001
842145Wednesday 21st OctoberCliff GerrardGareth Jones16,800,0002
852146Monday 26th OctoberTony PerrinRichard Holthouse16,200,0002
862147Wednesday 28th OctoberJohn StevensonRichard Holthouse16,150,0003
872148Monday 2nd NovemberH.V. KershawGareth Morgan15,600,0005
882149Wednesday 4th NovemberPeter WhalleyGareth Morgan16,650,0002
892150Monday 9th NovemberBob MasonDavid Carson16,250,0003
902151Wednesday 11th NovemberLeslie DuxburyDavid Carson16,450,0002
912152Monday 16th NovemberJohn StevensonRichard Holthouse16,563,0002
922153Wednesday 18th NovemberJulian RoachRichard Holthouse13,311,000n/k
932154Monday 23rd NovemberBarry HillGareth Morgan17,250,0001
942155Wednesday 25th NovemberLeslie DuxburyGareth Morgan17,550,0002
952156Monday 30th NovemberPeter WhalleyCharles Kitchen17,100,0002
962157Wednesday 2nd DecemberLeslie DuxburyCharles Kitchen16,500,0003
972158Monday 7th DecemberJulian RoachRichard Holthouse16,700,0002
982159Wednesday 9th DecemberH.V. KershawRichard Holthouse17,300,0001
992160Monday 14th DecemberH.V. KershawGareth Morgan17,450,0002
1002161Wednesday 16th DecemberTony PerrinGareth Morgan18,050,0001
1012162Monday 21st DecemberJohn StevensonCharles Kitchen16,700,0004
1022163Wednesday 23rd DecemberAdele RoseCharles Kitchen17,150,0001
1032164Monday 28th DecemberCliff GerardRichard Holthouse15,200,0004
1042165Wednesday 30th DecemberLeslie DuxburyRichard Holthouse16,900,0001

Storylines

Who lives where

Coronation Street

Rosamund Street

Others

Coronation Street in the 1980s
1980198119821983198419851986198719881989
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