23 February 2009

Coronation Street - the 2000th episode, The First Video Release And A New Street...

Coronation Street celebrated its 2,000th episode on 2 June 1980, and TV Times published a souvenir magazine to celebrate.

The landmark occasion was reached on the same day that Elizabeth II celebrated twenty-seven years as Queen. On the cover of the magazine were Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix), Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth), Ken Barlow (William Roache) and Tracy Langton (Christabel Finch). The souvenir included an introduction by Len Fairclough, a copy of the script of the very first episode, street party scenes and photographs of a trip to Singapore, featuring the producer and several cast members.

Ena Sharples made her final appearance in Coronation Street in April 1980. There was no big send-off as Violet Carson did not intend to leave at that point and several long absences during the 1970s had familiarised viewers with lengthy spells without the Hairnetted One.

In the storyline, Ena threatened not to return, but she'd done that before!

Violet had not been in the best of health for years, and had at times seemed somewhat disenchanted with the character of Ena, but I remember reading a newspaper article c. 1983, headed I'll Be Back, Vows Ena, complete with a lovely photograph of Vi at home in Blackpool, revealing her determination to don that famous hairnet again.

Sadly, this was not to be. Violet died on Boxing Day 1983.

Tracy Langton is in the lead in the egg and spoon race - and rules are made to be broken! Look at the blatant egg-gripping going on!

"Ooh, flamin' nora - fellas!!" Party animal Mike Baldwin sleeps it off.

What was happening to Len Fairclough in 1980? Well, the year had begun badly with Rita lambasting him after he'd slipped off to Molly Coggan's New Year party with a few of the lads, leaving Rita high and dry at the Rovers.

Early in 1980, Rita walked out on him, seeking to take up her nightclub singing career again. Len hit her and she left for Blackpool.

Len begged her to return and she did, but she made two things plain - Fairclough's selfish ways and the pig sty they lived in would BOTH have to change. Actually, we thought Rita herself was fairly horrible herself during this - she was no angel herself - and she suddenly seemed to have adopted a self righteous attitude that stank. Puzzling storyline - particularly as Len had collapsed at work in 1979 through overwork. Smelt a bit of misandry.

Other happenings of 1980 included Eddie Yeats moving in with Stan and Hilda Ogden, Renee Roberts meeting a nasty end in a road accident, and Bet Lynch and Elsie Tanner clashing over womanising lorry driver Dan Jackson.

He wasn't worth it.
Talking of Len, here's a newspaper advertisement from 1980. Video technology had been around for yonks, but domestic VCRs only a few years. In 1980, only 5% of UK households possessed a video recorder - they were far from cheap to buy outright at that point, and renting was a financial commitment many could do without in those hard-pressed times. The video revolution had to wait until a bit later in the decade to take hold.

The Magic of Coronation Street, Distant Memories - 1960-64.
The very first Coronation Street video release was dated 1982 and was produced by Granada Video. It contained six full episodes, including the first, and specially filmed sequences with Doris Speed, Pat Phoenix and Peter Adamson in character as Annie Walker, Elsie Tanner and Len Fairclough. My family didn't have a video recorder at the time, but I thought it was the "coming thing", so bought the Coronation Street video. Although dated 1982, I don't remember seeing the video on shop shelves until 1983, so the release date was probably late 1982 or perhaps even 1983.
The Magic of Coronation Street later returned to the shops in different packaging - courtesy of Vestron Video - as two separate releases, each containing three episodes.
This photograph from the Daily Mirror, 27/2/1982, shows an excited Hilda Ogden pointing at the new, under-construction, No 13 Coronation Street.
Hilda had already experienced two new No 13 exteriors. The Ogdens arrived in the programme in 1964 and in those days the Street's exterior set was actually in the studio.
In the late 1960s, an outdoor set was constructed - of lath and board - on the Grape Street lot near the studio. A single English winter played havoc with the flim-flam facade, and permission was granted for the Street's frontage to be built in brick. The back yards were added later.
For reasons of space, the outdoor facade was built far smaller than life size, as had been the case with the original studio set. But few viewers noticed anything wrong as, when seen through the TV cameras, the Street looked much larger.
In 1982, the Street was rebuilt, closer to life-size than it had ever been, and an entry was inserted between the Rovers Return and Albert Tatlock's bay window. For years, viewers had been writing in to say that the Rovers loo doors led directly into Albert's. They did, and the show's producer Bill Podmore used to joke: "Perhaps that's why he's always so grumpy!"
So, with a little bit of extra space for the ladies' and gents' conveniences (though, outside of soap reality, probably not enough), 1982 was a happy year for Albert!
5 May 1982 - and there's some Royal visitors at the Ogdens! The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the new exterior set and met members of the cast and production team.

The "Coronation Street" cast, all dressed in their characters' best clothes, waited to greet the VIP visitors by their respective front doors. Jean Alexander, in Hilda's best frock, was actually curler-less (yes, Hilda would take them out on special occasions!), Stan (Bernard Youens) wore his best cardie and jacket, but Geoffrey Hughes, as Eddie Yeats, was wearing a donkey jacket over his smart suit - as befitted Eddie's role as a binman.

Giggling, gap-toothed Scouser Eddie was a long-term pal of the Oggies, and became their lodger in 1980. He met his true love, Marion Willis (Veronica Doran), in 1982. The couple were caught up in the CB radio craze and carried the "handles" "Slim Jim" and "Stardust Lill". They met over the airwaves. In 1983, Marion and Eddie married and left the Street.

1 comment:

Ado said...

Oh, yes. The Street in its Golden hey day! Such a travesty and crying shame that it's materialised in to what it's become today.