For the only time in its history, Coronation Street was in serious danger of cancellation. Ratings had fallen by two million viewers in two years, and the series hadn't broken nine million homes since February 1966. Combined with the widespread demolition of Victorian terraces all over Manchester to make way for modern housing, this caused Granada executives to feel that the programme was nearing the end of its natural life. According to staff writer John Finch, internally executives were "blasé" about Coronation Street's high ratings and wanted to be seen doing something different. With Pardon the Expression having achieved moderate success, plans were drawn up to end Coronation Street and follow its lead by creating three new spin-offs starring its most popular characters: a romantic comedy with Len Fairclough, Elsie Tanner and their lodger Jerry Booth, an Australian drama with Ken and Valerie Barlow, and a series set in a Derbyshire guest house run by Jack and Annie Walker, featuring Lucille Hewitt and housekeeper Ena Sharples.
At a time when ATV's new soap opera Market in Honey Lane had its own backlot, and the first colour TV transmissions had taken place on BBC Two on 1st July, it was clear that if the programme was to continue, it would need an outdoor set which could stand up to 625-line colour cameras. The sticking point for Granada was that they were not willing to a build a viaduct as it would make the cost of the set prohibitive.
To celebrate 60 years of Coronation Street on television, we're going through the programme's entire history a year at a time. The full version of this article can be found here. Check back on 26th February for 1968!
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