Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-present)
I have been thinking for a while about whether to review this show or not, because it is not exactly one that people won’t remember, and its story is well known, indeed it’s one of the most successful shows in the history of British television. So I have decided to do something a little different, and pick an episode from YouTube to review, along with the adverts featured, and some of my memories. Having already reviewed some less successful soaps including Family Affairs and Night And Day, I thought that I might as well now review one of the big ones.
Although I have watched Coronation Street a lot over the years, I suppose that I am more fond of BBC1’s rival soap EastEnders, partly because it is set in practically the part of London where I live (so proud about that), and I might review that show one day too. Coronation Street (a Granada Production for ITV) has been going for almost 60 years now, and so many famous characters have come and gone throughout the years. The episode that will be reviewed was shown on ITV on 31 July 1985 (episode 2,539, fact fans). This is a little before my time as they say, but I’m sure that as ever there’s plenty of action happening on those cobbles in Weatherfield.
This episode was recorded in the Yorkshire region, and firstly there’s a trail for ITV’s other long-running soap (since 1972) Emmerdale Farm (although I have never been a regular viewer of that one, so I don’t plan to review that). There are also trails for sitcom Duty Free at 8pm, followed by sketch show The Funny Side (including Derek Griffiths having a trousers mishap) at 8:30pm, so the comedy begins later on YTV at 8:30pm (boom-boom).
YTV teases the episode by telling us that tonight Terry gets a mixed reception when he makes Andrea an offer. YTV never had in-vision continuity during this time, and their announcers were the poshest-sounding outside of the BBC. I’m fairly sure that the announcer introducing the episode is the rather unenthusiastic-sounding Paul Lally (who in his career as an actor also appeared in a few episodes, maybe he was disappointed that this wasn’t one of them).
I know that people get annoyed when when people say things like “if they did this story nowadays they’d blow up half the street and someone would be killed off”, let’s just see what’ll happen as we meet the characters (this was back in the days when there were only two episodes a week and the cast was much smaller). Was this a golden era for the show? After the opening sequence, the first scene is with Kevin and Hilda. We also see Ken and Deirdre, maybe they are debating whether they will get married or divorced for about the 17th time, and wondering who is playing Tracy this week.
This was also in the days when scenes on location were still on film, so we go to the Duckworths where Jack is taking a look at his pigeons. They’ve gone off their food, and Vera thinks that Jack’s gone deaf. We also have one of the final appearances of the little-remembered Clayton family, who came and went in barely six months and made little impact with viewers. I thought that one of them was looking into the camera at one point, maybe it was just bad acting.
We also visit Alf’s corner shop, where you are welcome to buy a box of Corn Flakes at any hour of the day. Leather jacket-wearing Mike meets Hilda, and we also visit The Rovers Return which looks rather different to how it does now. Bet and Betty are behind the bar and customers include Vera and Mavis (insert Les Dennis reference here), going on about flamingos hopping about on one leg. Emily takes Tracy ice-skating, but not before Ken reveals some big news, and that’s the end of part one.
The adverts include Persil, Pizza Hut, and Sodastream featuring a young Tony Slattery (who eventually appeared in five episodes of Coronation Street himself), and it’s rather funny, definitely as good as Just A Gigolo. We also have an great example of a type of advert you don’t see much of nowadays, and I didn’t expect it to turn up in this primetime slot – the low-budget local advert. It’s for the car magazine Yorkshire Motor Trader, only 20p. Now it’s time for part two.
And Alf’s got nothing concrete to go on. Jack is now in the Rovers dreaming about mattresses. Tracy has come back from the ice-skating and she didn’t fall over, so she is given an ice-lolly as a treat. Maybe Deirdre will get her those flippin’ ice-skates one day. Emily has to leave quickly as Norman wants his supper. The cliffhanger is Alf insisting that he won’t go over £14,000 for Hilda’s house, cue the credits and the famous theme music.
After this, there are some more adverts including Charlie Brown’s (a tennis tournament), Rowntree’s wobbly jelly, Granada (as in the TV shop), and Persil. I remember I used to watch Coronation Street when it went three episodes a week, then four episodes a week, but I began to lose track around the time it went five episodes a week (along with the increasingly over-hyped stories), and I’m not too familiar with the current cast.
I also remember watching the repeat runs of Coronation Street on satellite channel Granada Plus in the late-90s (beginning at 1976 and ending at 1994) which helped me to learn a lot about the older days, and another repeat run (this time starting at 1986) recently began on ITV3. There have been plenty of episodes released on VHS and DVD, and there is also a comprehensive website with lots of information and trivia. I know that viewers have always felt this it has more warmth and charm than any other soap, and I’m sure that it’ll remain a TV institution for many years to come.