Next tour: Not this summer, chuck.
Guide: Willie Eckerslike.
Meet: Cornerhouse, Oxford Street, 6pm.
Locations visited: The Old Grapes (formerly Liz Dawn’s pub); Cropper’s Corner, Castlefield (where Tony Gordon tried to drown the redoubtable Roy); the Ralph Abercrombie where the programme was named; St John’s Gardens…
Price of tour (in old money): £7 (£6).
Bring: Albert Tatlock’s glasses.
“Now the next thing you want to do is get in a signwriter in. That sign above the door will have to be changed.”
Those were the opening lines of the world’s most famous television programme, spoken by Elsie Lappin to Florrie Lindley on 9 Dec 1960. Florrie replied: “It’ll seem funny ’avin me name outside me own shop.”
What about that? Not even Ken Barlow to Ena Sharples. But those lines ushered in a phenomenon, an institution, that is now 52 years old.
Coronation Street was not an instant success. Granada only commissioned 13 episodes. Few within the company thought it would last its run. However something caught the viewers’ imagination. Perhaps it was the liberal use of Northern phrases like “eh”, “chuck”, “nowt”. Perhaps it was the Dickensian gravitas of the cast’s names (purloined from Pendlebury Church graveyard). Perhaps it was the setting: Archie Street, Ordsall, with its compact terraced houses, backyards, corner shop, pub and church, less than a mile from Grandaland.
Fifty years of drama and farce, life, loves and laughs have followed on Britain’s most famous TV street, land of cobbles, factories, terraced houses, Kabin and Rovers Return, the success buoyed by the wonderfully drawn cast of characters past and present – Vera & Jack, Hilda & Stan, Elsie, Ena, Ken and Len; Bet and Betty; Liz and Lloyd; Steve and Norris; Stape and Fiz; Sonny Jim and Schmeichel (R.I.P. big fella).
New Manchester Walks’ Coronation Street tour takes you from the centre of Manchester to the heart of Weatherfield, in and out of the haunts of the actors, actresses and characters who have made Coronation Street Britain’s best loved soap.
This is the sort of thing you’ll hear on the walk
When Julie Goodyear first turned up at Granada to play Bet Lynch in 1966, a friend gave her a lift into Manchester in his van. In the back was a cement mixer. Julie expected the pal to drop her on the main road, but as it was raining he insisted in pulling up outside the TV company’s front entrance on Atherton Street. By an amazing coincidence Pat Phoenix was just getting out of her Rolls Royce at the same time. Pat looked Julie up and down “as if I were a piece of dog dirt on her shoe,” as Julie recalled, and said, “‘Don’t you ever, ever dare to upstage me again, young lady.’”