Coronation Street is a British television soap opera first broadcast on Granada Television in 1960. It was soon syndicated on other ITV franchises. The programme concerns the lives of the residents of Coronation Street in Weatherfield, a fictional town based on Salford, and centres around its terraced houses, a cafe, corner shop, newsagents, textile factory and theRovers Return public house.
The programme was devised in 1960 by local scriptwriter Tony Warren at the recently formed Granada Television in Manchester. Warren's initial kitchen sink drama proposal was rejected by the station's founder Sidney Bernstein but he was persuaded by producer Harry Elton to produce the programme for thirteen pilot episodes. It was first broadcast on 9 December 1960 and within six months had become the most-watched programme on British television. It has been one of the most financially lucrative programmes on British commercial television, underpinning the success of the Granada Television franchise and the broadcaster ITV.
Coronation Street is made by Granada Television at Granada Studios in Manchester. It is shown in all ITV regions as well as internationally. On 17 September 2010, it became the world's longest-running TV soap opera in production. Coronation Street is noted for its depiction of a down-to-earth working class community combined with light-hearted humour and strong characters.
Several classic episodes were released on VHS video in the 1980s and 1990s in different sets, while a number of specially recorded feature-length episodes were released exclusively to video (see Coronation Street VHS and DVD releases).
The Street, a magazine dedicated to the show, was launched in 1989. Edited by Bill Hill, the magazine contained a summary of recent storylines, interviews, articles about classic episodes, and stories that occurred from before 1960. The format was initially A5 size, expanding to A4 from the seventh issue. The magazine folded after issue 23 in 1993 when the publisher's contract with Granada Studios Tour expired and Granada wanted to produce their own magazine.
During the time when the studios tour was operating, a huge amount of branded merchandise was available from an on-site shop—everything from soap, to tea-towels, to model houses. These items gradually became scarce as the tours complex was wound down. Although there were large numbers produced, these items are becoming collectable by fans.
On 25 June 2010 a video game of the show was released on Nintendo DS. Players take the role of a detective as they work through a brand new storyline and befriend the various characters from the street, including Ken, Norris, Maria and Blanche.
In 1995, to commemorate the programme's 35th anniversary, a CD called The Coronation Street Album was released, featuring cover versions of modern songs and standards by contemporary cast members.
An album featuring songs sung by some of the cast was released for the show's 50th anniversary. The singers include William Roache, Betty Driver, Kevin Kennedy and Katherine Kelly. The album is titled Rogues, Angels, Heroes & Fools
Granada launched one spin-off in 1965, Pardon the Expression, following the story of clothing store manager Leonard Swindley (Arthur Lowe) after he left Weatherfield. Swindley's management experience was tested when he was appointed assistant manager at a fictional department store, Dobson and Hawks. Granada produced two series of the spin-off, which ended in 1966.
In 1967, Arthur Lowe returned as Leonard Swindley in Turn out the Lights, a short-lived sequel to Pardon the Expression. It ran for just one series of six episodes before it was cancelled.
The German TV series Lindenstraße took Coronation Street as the model. Lindenstraße started in 1985.
In 1985, a sister series, Albion Market was launched. It ran for one year, with 100 episodes produced.
On 8 December 2000 and 9 December 2010, live episodes were aired to mark the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the show. The first was mainly based around Vera Duckworth in hospital and the campaign to save the cobbles. The second was based around events following the tram crash.
Coronation Street: Family Album was several documentaries about various families living on the street.
"Farewell ..." was several documentaries featuring the best moments of a single character who had recently left the series. Most notably, Farewell Blanche (Hunt), Farewell Jack (Duckworth), Farewell Mike (Baldwin), Farewell Vera (Duckworth), Farewell Janice (Battersby), Farewell Liz (McDonald) and Farewell Becky (McDonald). Most of these were broadcast on the same day as the character's final scenes in the series.
Stars on the Street was aired around Christmas of 2009. It featured actors from the soap talking about the famous guest stars who had appeared in the series including people who were in it before they were famous.
In 2010, several actors from the show appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show as their soap characters: David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd), Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) and Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan). In the fictional, semi-improvised scenario, David accused Nick (his brother) and Tina (his ex-girlfriend) of sleeping together.
On 21 December 2012, Coronation Street produced a Text Santa special entitled A Christmas Corrie which featured Norris Cole in the style of Scrooge, being visited by the ghosts of dead characters. The ghosts were Mike Baldwin,Maxine Peacock, Derek Wilton and Vera Duckworth. Other special guests include Torvill and Dean, Lorraine Kelly and Sheila Reid. The episode concluded with Norris learning the error of his ways and dancing on the cobbles. The original plan for this feature was to have included Jack Duckworth, along with Vera, but actor Bill Tarmey died before filming commenced. In the end a recording of his voice was played.
ITV.com launched a small spin-off drama series called 'Gary's Army Diaries' which revolves around Gary's experiences in Afghanistan and the loss of his best friend, Quinny. Due to their popularity, the three five-minute episodes were recut into a single 30-minute episode, which was broadcast on ITV2.
In August 2010, many Coronation Street characters were brought to the stage to make a mockery of Jonathan Harvey's new comedy play Corrie!. The play was commissioned to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the TV series and was presented at The Lowry in Salford, England by ITV Studios and Phil McIntyre Entertainments. Featuring a cast of six actors who alternate roles of favourite characters including Ena Sharples, Hilda Ogden, Hayley and Roy, Richard Hillman, Jack Duckworth, Bet Lynch, Steve, Karen and Becky, the play weaves together some of the most memorable moments from the TV show. It toured UK theatres between February 2011 and July 2011 with guest star narrators including Roy Barraclough, Ken Morley and Gaynor Faye.
Over the years Coronation Street has released several straight-to-video films. Unlike other soaps which often used straight-to-video films to cover more contentious plot lines that may not be allowed by the broadcaster, Coronation Streethas largely used these films to reset their characters in other locations.
In 1995, Coronation Street: The Cruise also known as Coronation Street: The Feature Length Special was released on VHS to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the show. ITV heavily promoted the programme as a direct-to-video exclusive but broadcast a brief version of it on 24 March 1996. The Independent Television Commission investigated the broadcast, as viewers complained that ITV misled them.
In 1997, following the controversial cruise spin-off, Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! was released on VHS, featuring Jack Duckworth, Vera Duckworth, Fiona Middleton and Maxine Peacock on a trip to Las Vegas.
In 1999, six special episodes of Coronation Street were produced, following the story of Steve McDonald, Vicky McDonald, Vikram Desai, Bet Gilroy and Reg Holdsworth in Brighton. This video was titled Coronation Street: Open All Hours and released on VHS.
In 2008, ITV announced filming was to get underway for a new special DVD episode, Coronation Street: Out of Africa, following the Battersby-Brown family, which saw the temporary return of Cilla Battersby-Brown.
In 2009, another DVD special, Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday, was released. The feature-length comedy drama followed Roy, Hayley and Becky as they travelled to Romania for the wedding of a face from their past.
On 1 November 2010, Coronation Street: A Knight's Tale was released. Reg Holdsworth and Curly Watts returned in the film. Mary tries to take Norris to an apparently haunted castle where she hoped to seduce him. Rosie gets a job there and she takes Jason with her. Brian Capron also guest starred as an assumed relative of Richard Hillman. He rises out of a lake as a comedic "wink to the audience" after Hillman drowned in 2003.
The BBC commissioned a one-off drama called The Road to Coronation Street, about how the series first came into being. Jessie Wallace plays Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner) with Lynda Baron as Violet Carson (Ena Sharples), Celia Imrieas Doris Speed (Annie Walker) and James Roache as his own father William Roache (Ken Barlow). It was broadcast on 16 September 2010 on BBC Four.
In December 2010, ITV made a few special programs to mark the 50th anniversary. Coronation Street Uncovered: Live, hosted by Stephen Mulhern was shown after the episode with the tram crash was aired on ITV 2. On 7 and 9 December a countdown on the greatest Corrie moments, Coronation Street: 50 Years, 50 Moments, the viewers voted "The Barlows at Alcoholics Anonymous" as the greatest moment. On 10 December Paul O'Grady hosted a quiz show, Coronation Street: The Big 50 with three teams from the soap and a celebrity team answering questions about Coronation Street and other soaps. Also, Come Dine with Me and Celebrity Juice aired Coronation Street specials in the anniversary week.
Coronation Street and rival soap opera EastEnders had a crossover for Children in Needin November 2010 called "East Street". EastEnders stars that visited Weatherfield include Laurie Brett as Jane Beale, Charlie G. Hawkins asDarren Miller, Kylie Babbington as Jodie Gold, Nina Wadia as Zainab Masood and John Partridge as Christian Clarke.
Coronation Street: Viva Las Vegas! also included some characters from Emmerdale.
The British rock band Queen produced a single "I Want to Break Free" in 1984 which reached number 3 position in UK charts and which is largely known for its music video for which all the band members dressed in women's clothes, which parodied the characters and is considered as a homage to the show. The video depicts Mercury as a housewife, loosely based on Bet Lynch, who wants to "break free" from his life. Although Lynch was a blonde in the soap opera, Mercury thought he would look too silly as a blonde and chose a dark wig. May plays another, more relaxed housewife based on Hilda Ogden.