Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Debut of 'Coronation Street'

On this day in 1960 Coronation Street made its television debut on Granada Television (now ITV Studios)...  The very same episode was placed here on this day in 2010, on the occasion of the show's 50th anniversary.  Nearly 7,500 episodes and 50 years later the show is heaped with superlatives, including Britain's longest-running soap opera and the world's longest-running dramatic programme among many others.

Set in Manchester's fictional working class district of Weatherfield - itself based on the City of Salford - the brainchild of Tony Warren was initially rubbished by critics but embraced by audiences, who'd made it the number one show on British television by 1961. This dichotomy probably best illustrates the class divide in Britain; ITV was basically founded in an effort to put the working class majority and their stories on television, in direct competition to the shows aired by the middle class, pro-Establishment BBC.

From its beginning Coronation Street sought to combine the aesthetics of kitchen sink drama popular in British cinema throughout the 1950s with those of the American soap opera; among its other innovations was the presence of strong female characters, such as Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix), and Annie Walker (Doris Speed) - proprietress of the Rovers Return Inn. The original cast are mostly gone now... Only one remains, namely Ken Barlow (William Roache).
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