Created by Tony Warren
Coronation Street is a British television soap opera set in Weatherfield, a fictional town in Greater Manchester based on Salford. Created by Tony Warren, Coronation Street was first broadcast on 9 December 1960. The show has been on the air for over 51 years. Coronation Street is produced by ITV Granada Television under ITV Studios and shown in all ITV regions. It has been filmed in Manchester at the Granada Studios since its inception, but filming will move to a new set at Media City in Salford in 2013.
Since first being aired, it has been one of the most financially lucrative programmes on British commercial television, underpinning the success of its broadcaster ITV and its franchise Granada Television. On 17 September 2010, it became the world's longest-running TV soap opera in production, after the United States soap opera As the World Turns ended.
Since 1960, Coronation Street has featured many characters whose popularity with viewers and critics has differed greatly. The original cast was created by Tony Warren, with the characters of Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix) and Annie Walker (Doris Speed) as central figures. These three women remained with the show for 20 years or more, and became archetypes of British soap opera, often being emulated by other serials. Ena was the street's busybody, battleaxe and self-proclaimed moral voice. Elsie was the tart with a heart, who was constantly hurt by men in the search for true love. Annie Walker, landlady of the Rovers Return Inn, had delusions of grandeur and saw herself as better than other residents of Coronation Street.
Coronation Street became known for the portrayal of strong female characters, with characters like Sharples, Walker and Tanner, and Hilda Ogden, becoming household names during the 1960s. Warren's programme was largely matriarchal, which some commentators put down to the female-dominant environment in which he grew up. Consequently, the show has a long tradition of psychologically abused husbands, most famously Stan Ogden and Jack Duckworth, husbands of Hilda and Vera, respectively.
Only one character from the first episode remains, Ken Barlow (William Roache). He entered the storyline as a young radical, reflecting the youth of 1960s Britain, where figures like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the model Twiggy were to reshape the concept of youthful rebellion. Though the rest of the original Barlow family were killed off, Ken has remained the constant link throughout the entire series of Coronation Street.
Stan Ogden and Hilda Ogden were introduced in 1964, with Hilda (Jean Alexander) becoming one of the most famous British soap characters of all time. In a 1982 poll, she was voted fourth most recognisable woman in Britain, after Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales. Hilda's best-known attributes were her pinny, hair curlers, and the "muriel" in her living room with three "flying" duck ornaments. Hilda Ogden's final episode on Christmas Day 1987, remains the highest-rated episode of Coronation Street ever, with nearly 27 million viewers.
Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) first appeared in 1966, before becoming a regular in 1970, and went on to become one of the most famous Corrie characters. Bet stood as the central character of the show from 1985 until departing in 1995, often being dubbed as "Queen of the Street" by the media, and indeed herself. The character briefly returned in June 2002.
Coronation Street and its characters often rely heavily on archetypes, with the characterisation of some of its current cast based loosely on past characters. Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) embodied the role of the acid-tongued busybody originally held by Ena Sharples, Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) has grown snobbish, like Annie Walker, and a number of the programme's female characters mirror the vulnerability of Elsie Tanner and Bet Lynch. Other recurring archetypes include the war veteran (Albert Tatlock, Percy Sugden), the bumbling retail manager (Leonard Swindley, Reg Holdsworth, Norris Cole), and the perennial losers (Stan and Hilda Ogden, Jack and Vera Duckworth, and Les Battersby-Brown). The show's former archivist and scriptwriter Daran Little disagreed with the characterisation of the show as a collection of stereotypes. "Rather, remember that Elsie, Ena and Co. were the first of their kind ever seen on British television. If later characters are stereotypes, it's because they are from the same original mould. It is the hundreds of programmes that have followed which have copied Coronation Street."