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Title caption 1977-82.jpg

1981 was Coronation Street's twenty-second year.

Main characters

Ranking Character Played by Duration Number of Episodes Running total Previous year's ranking
1 Elsie Tanner Patricia Phoenix Full year 82 1460 3
2 Len Fairclough Peter Adamson Full year 80 1653 1
2 Fred Gee Fred Feast Full year 80 364 7
4 Rita Fairclough Barbara Knox Full year 74 661 8
5 Ken Barlow William Roache Full year 73 1399 17
6 Bet Lynch Julie Goodyear Full year 72 817 10
7 Deirdre Langton/Barlow Anne Kirkbride Full year 70 530 18
7 Hilda Ogden Jean Alexander Full year 70 1194 6
9 Alf Roberts Bryan Mosley Full year 69 688 9
10 Bert Tilsley Peter Dudley Full year 68 175 16
11 Annie Walker Doris Speed Full year 68 1594 2
12 Mavis Riley Thelma Barlow Full year 64 485 11
13 Mike Baldwin Johnny Briggs Full year 62 290 19
13 Ivy Tilsley Lynne Perrie Full year 62 265 4
15 Albert Tatlock Jack Howarth Full year 58 1208 21
15 Betty Turpin Betty Driver Full year 58 871 11
15 Eddie Yeats Geoffrey Hughes Full year 58 370 4
18 Stan Ogden Bernard Youens Full year 56 1092 13
19 Eunice Nuttall/Gee Meg Johnson March to December 54 54 -
20 Emily Bishop Eileen Derbyshire Full year 53 1179 13
21 Brian Tilsley Christopher Quinten Full year 50 152 20
22 Gail Tilsley Helen Worth Full year 49 393 13
23 Tracy Langton Christabel Finch Full year 42 180 22
23 Nick Tilsley Warren Jackson January to June and August to November 42 42 -
25 Vera Duckworth Elizabeth Dawn January, March, May and from July 33 142 24
26 Audrey Potter Sue Nicholls January and September to November 24 46 28
27 Ida Clough Helene Palmer January, March and from July 23 84 27
28 Jack Duckworth William Tarmey May and August to September 8 10 -
29 Susan Barlow Suzy Paterson July only 4 34 30
29 Alma Sedgewick Amanda Barrie June to July 4 4 -
29 Blanche Hunt Maggie Jones July only 4 98 -
32 Arnold Swain George Waring March only 3 42 23

Production

Farewell Grape Street

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

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

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
1 2062 Monday 5th January Leslie Duxbury Mary McMurray 18,300,000 4
2 2063 Wednesday 7th January Barry Hill Mary McMurray 19,750,000 2
3 2064 Monday 12th January H.V. Kershaw Stephen Butcher 17,600,000 2
4 2065 Wednesday 14th January Dave Simpson Stephen Butcher 18,100,000 1
5 2066 Monday 19th January Adele Rose Philip Draycott 17,050,000 3
6 2067 Wednesday 21st January Julian Roach Philip Draycott 17,400,000 2
7 2068 Monday 26th January John Stevenson John Michael Phillips 17,750,000 3
8 2069 Wednesday 28th January Geoffrey Lancashire John Michael Phillips 18,050,000 2
9 2070 Monday 2nd February Peter Whalley Stephen Butcher 17,100,000 3
10 2071 Wednesday 4th February John Stevenson Stephen Butcher 17,350,000 2
11 2072 Monday 9th February H.V. Kershaw Philip Draycott 17,250,000 3
12 2073 Wednesday 11th February Tony Perrin Philip Draycott 17,500,000 2
13 2074 Monday 16th February Adele Rose Nicholas Ferguson 17,600,000 4
14 2075 Wednesday 18th February Leslie Duxbury Nicholas Ferguson 20,800,000 1
15 2076 Monday 23rd February Leslie Duxbury John Michael Phillips 17,750,000 1
16 2077 Wednesday 25th February H.V. Kershaw John Michael Phillips 17,200,000 4
17 2078 Monday 2nd March Barry Hill Kenny McBain 18,050,000 3
18 2079 Wednesday 4th March John Stevenson Kenny McBain 18,400,000 2
19 2080 Monday 9th March Julian Roach Nicholas Ferguson 17,350,000 3
20 2081 Wednesday 11th March Adele Rose Nicholas Ferguson 17,500,000 2
21 2082 Monday 16th March H.V. Kershaw John Michael Phillips 17,750,000 3
22 2083 Wednesday 18th March Peter Whalley John Michael Phillips 19,000,000 1
23 2084 Monday 23rd March H.V. Kershaw Bill Gilmour 16,850,000 4
24 2085 Wednesday 25th March Leslie Duxbury Charles Kitchen 18,800,000 1
25 2086 Monday 30th March Tony Perrin David Carson 16,198,000 3
26 2087 Wednesday 1st April John Stevenson Nicholas Ferguson 16,860,000 2
27 2088 Monday 6th April H.V. Kershaw Jonathan Wright-Miller 15,182,000 5
28 2089 Wednesday 8th April Barry Hill Jonathan Wright-Miller 16,851,000 1
29 2090 Monday 13th April Peter Whalley Charles Kitchen 15,411,000 2
30 2091 Wednesday 15th April Adele Rose Charles Kitchen 15,402,000 3
31 2092 Monday 20th April Leslie Duxbury David Carson 9,345,000 n/k
32 2093 Wednesday 22nd April Leslie Duxbury David Carson 16,338,000 2
33 2094 Monday 27th April Dave Simpson Richard Holthouse 15,211,000 2
34 2095 Wednesday 29th April Leslie Duxbury Richard Holthouse 16,162,000 1
35 2096 Monday 4th May Adele Rose Charles Kitchen 15,629,000 2
36 2097 Wednesday 6th May Barry Hill Charles Kitchen 15,732,000 1
37 2098 Monday 11th May H.V. Kershaw David Carson 14,750,000 6
38 2099 Wednesday 13th May Tony Perrin David Carson 15,950,000 1
39 2100 Monday 18th May H.V. Kershaw Richard Holthouse 15,600,000 2
40 2101 Wednesday 20th May Tony Perrin Richard Holthouse 16,350,000 1
41 2102 Monday 25th May Adele Rose Charles Kitchen 10,850,000 20
42 2103 Wednesday 27th May Leslie Duxbury Charles Kitchen 11,750,000 11
43 2104 Monday 1st June Peter Whalley David Carson 13,900,000 4
44 2105 Wednesday 3rd June Julian Roach David Carson 14,800,000 2
45 2106 Monday 8th June Tony Perrin Gareth Jones 14,600,000 2
46 2107 Wednesday 10th June Adele Rose Gareth Jones 15,100,000 1
47 2108 Monday 15th June H.V. Kershaw Charles Kitchen 14,150,000 5
48 2109 Wednesday 17th June H.V. Kershaw Charles Kitchen 16,300,000 1
49 2110 Monday 22nd June Barry Hill Richard Holthouse 14,200,000 2
50 2111 Wednesday 24th June Leslie Duxbury Richard Holthouse 16,100,000 1
51 2112 Monday 29th June H.V. Kershaw John Michael Phillips 14,150,000 1
52 2113 Wednesday 1st July Adele Rose John Michael Phillips 13,850,000 2
53 2114 Monday 6th July Barry Hill Charles Kitchen 14,700,000 1
54 2115 Wednesday 8th July Peter Whalley Charles Kitchen 14,500,000 2
55 2116 Monday 13th July Leslie Duxbury Gareth Jones 14,750,000 2
56 2117 Wednesday 15th July John Stevenson Gareth Jones 15,100,000 1
57 2118 Monday 20th July Barry Hill John Michael Phillips 14,100,000 3
58 2119 Wednesday 22nd July Tony Perrin John Michael Phillips 15,250,000 1
59 2120 Monday 27th July Leslie Duxbury Charles Kitchen 15,350,000 1
60 2121 Wednesday 29th July H.V. Kershaw Charles Kitchen 12,200,000 5
61 2122 Monday 3rd August Julian Roach David Carson 13,400,000 2
62 2123 Wednesday 5th August John Stevenson David Carson 13,750,000 1
63 2124 Monday 10th August H.V. Kershaw Richard Holthouse 14,450,000 1
64 2125 Wednesday 12th August Bob Mason Richard Holthouse 13,900,000 2
65 2126 Monday 17th August Adele Rose Ken Grieve 14,150,000 3
66 2127 Wednesday 19th August Tony Perrin June Wyndham Davies 15,400,000 1
67 2128 Monday 24th August Leslie Duxbury David Carson 14,250,000 1
68 2129 Wednesday 26th August John Stevenson David Carson 13,150,000 3
69 2130 Monday 31st August H.V. Kershaw Richard Holthouse 11,820,000 10
70 2131 Wednesday 2nd September Peter Whalley Richard Holthouse 14,250,000 1
71 2132 Monday 7th September John Stevenson Gareth Jones 14,500,000 3
72 2133 Wednesday 9th September Leslie Duxbury Gareth Jones 14,150,000 4
73 2134 Monday 14th September Tony Perrin David Carson 15,750,000 1
74 2135 Wednesday 16th September Julian Roach David Carson 13,900,000 4
75 2136 Monday 21st September Tony Perrin Brian Mills 16,150,000 1
76 2137 Wednesday 23rd September Adele Rose Gareth Morgan 14,800,000 4
77 2138 Monday 28th September H.V. Kershaw Gareth Jones 15,100,000 4
78 2139 Wednesday 30th September Barry Hill Gareth Jones 15,900,000 2
79 2140 Monday 5th October John Stevenson Charles Kitchen 15,750,000 2
80 2141 Wednesday 7th October Leslie Duxbury Charles Kitchen 15,650,000 3
81 2142 Monday 12th October Peter Whalley Gareth Jones 16,600,000 2
82 2143 Wednesday 14th October Leslie Duxbury Brian Mills 16,650,000 1
83 2144 Monday 19th October Leslie Duxbury Gareth Jones 16,900,000 1
84 2145 Wednesday 21st October Cliff Gerrard Gareth Jones 16,800,000 2
85 2146 Monday 26th October Tony Perrin Richard Holthouse 16,200,000 2
86 2147 Wednesday 28th October John Stevenson Richard Holthouse 16,150,000 3
87 2148 Monday 2nd November H.V. Kershaw Gareth Morgan 15,600,000 5
88 2149 Wednesday 4th November Peter Whalley Gareth Morgan 16,650,000 2
89 2150 Monday 9th November Bob Mason David Carson 16,250,000 3
90 2151 Wednesday 11th November Leslie Duxbury David Carson 16,450,000 2
91 2152 Monday 16th November John Stevenson Richard Holthouse 16,563,000 2
92 2153 Wednesday 18th November Julian Roach Richard Holthouse 13,311,000 n/k
93 2154 Monday 23rd November Barry Hill Gareth Morgan 17,250,000 1
94 2155 Wednesday 25th November Leslie Duxbury Gareth Morgan 17,550,000 2
95 2156 Monday 30th November Peter Whalley Charles Kitchen 17,100,000 2
96 2157 Wednesday 2nd December Leslie Duxbury Charles Kitchen 16,500,000 3
97 2158 Monday 7th December Julian Roach Richard Holthouse 16,700,000 2
98 2159 Wednesday 9th December H.V. Kershaw Richard Holthouse 17,300,000 1
99 2160 Monday 14th December H.V. Kershaw Gareth Morgan 17,450,000 2
100 2161 Wednesday 16th December Tony Perrin Gareth Morgan 18,050,000 1
101 2162 Monday 21st December John Stevenson Charles Kitchen 16,700,000 4
102 2163 Wednesday 23rd December Adele Rose Charles Kitchen 17,150,000 1
103 2164 Monday 28th December Cliff Gerard Richard Holthouse 15,200,000 4
104 2165 Wednesday 30th December Leslie Duxbury Richard Holthouse 16,900,000 1

Storylines

Who lives where

Coronation Street

Rosamund Street

Others

Coronation Street in the 1980s
1980198119821983198419851986198719881989
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