First Corrie opening credits 1960 Credit: YouTube/ITV
Soaps

How did Coronation Street start?

It all began in 1960...

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Coronation Street has been on our screens for 58 years and there have been over 9,000 episodes to date.

But how did the show start? Who wrote it? And what happened in the very first scene?

Here’s a look at the history of The Street.

Who created Coronation Street?

Tony Warren Coronation Street Credit: SplashNews.com
The late Tony Warren created Corrie (Credit: SplashNews.com)

Read more: Battle of the Soaps: Coronation Street vs Emmerdale

The late Tony Warren came up with the idea for Coronation Street, reportedly on a train to Manchester late at night.

He wanted to create a series about an ordinary Manchester street and the lives of the people who lived there.

His initial idea was rejected by Granada Television founder Sidney Bernstein, but producer Harry Elton persuaded Bernstein to reconsider and an initial 13 episode run was commissioned.

He wrote all 13 scripts for the first series, and once ITV realised the show was a success, he continued to write it until 1968. He was involved in various other ways until his death in March 2016.

What was it originally called?

Initially the show was titled Florizel Street after Prince Florizel from Sleeping Beauty.

According to Warren, the name was changed to Coronation Street after a tea lady at Granada called Agnes said ‘Florizel’ sounded like a brand of disinfectant.

Coronation Street was decided upon as the fictional street would have been built just after King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902.

When did Coronation Street first air?

Corrie first scene Credit: YouTube/ITV
Florrie Lindley bought the corner shop from Elsie Lappin (Credit: YouTube/ITV)

The first ever episode of Coronation Street aired on December 9, 1960 in black and white.

The first scene saw Florrie Lindley and Elsie Lappin. Florrie had bought the corner shop from Elsie, who was retiring. But Elsie stayed around to warn Florrie about the locals and train her up.

Who else appeared in the first episode?

Elsie Tanner Dennis Tanner YouTube/ITV
Elsie Tanner and her wayward son Dennis (Credit: YouTube/ITV)

We met a number of the show’s most iconic characters in the first episode. Elsie Tanner (Pat Pheonix) and her son Dennis Tanner (Phillip Lowrie) were seen at Number 11 arguing.

Dennis had recently been released from prison and Elsie wanted him to find work. However, given his stint inside, it wasn’t that easy. He’d been locked up for theft and Elsie also accused him of stealing from her purse.

Florrie’s first customer at the corner shop was Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), who immediately questioned her about her religion and morals.

When did we meet Ken Barlow?

Ken Barlow YouTube/ITV
Ken was in the first ever episode (Credit: YouTube/ITV)

The longest-serving character appeared in the second scene of the first episode of Coronation Street. Ken has been with the cast of Coronation Street for 59 years.

Ken Barlow, played by William Roache, was seen with his parents, Frank and Ida Barlow. Frank accused his student son of being too snobbish and embarrassed by his working class family.

Ken’s brother, David, soon arrived and he was more down-to-earth than intelligent Ken, but the brothers got on well.

Was the Rovers Return in the first episode?

Annie Walker, Ken Barlow Rovers Return Credit: YouTube/ITV
Annie Walker served Ken Barlow in the first episode (Credit: YouTube/ITV)

Ken Barlow visited the Rovers Return during the first episode of Corrie. It was run by Annie Walker at the time.

He ordered a pack of cigarettes off her before Dennis arrived and asked for half a pint of mild. As Dennis couldn’t afford cigarettes as well, Ken gave him a pack, much to Annie’s disapproval.

Dennis remained on the Street until 1968 before leaving and returning from 2011 to 2014.

What happened next?

Ken and his determination to better himself and get away from Weatherfield continued to be central to the show’s first storylines.

Ena Sharples and her friends Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) and Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol) spent much of their time sitting in the snug in the Rovers passing judgment on the other Street residents. Ena often clashed with Elsie in particular, believing her to have loose morals.

Other storylines throughout the 1960s included Elsie Tanner receiving a poison-pen letter, Ken Barlow marrying Valerie Tatlock and the birth of the Barlow twins: Peter and Susan, a train crash, and a coach crash.

Was Corrie a hit?

By March 1961 Coronation Street was the number one show in the television ratings and by 1964 the show had an average of 20 million viewers.

But the soap was sometimes criticised for its outdated portrayal of working class life. The Daily Mirror insisted the programme was “doomed from the outset”.

By the 1970s, viewing figures had dropped to eight million.

Coronation Street went off air in 1979 for 11 weeks due to strike action.

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