In December 1960, along came ‘Coronation Street,’ the first and in my opinion, the best British soap opera ever. Mother, father and I hardly ever missed an episode. Sadly, my parents are both long gone, but I have kept the ‘Coronation Street’ torch burning. Over the years, I have collected books, videos, DVDs and quizzes about my favourite soap. I have also met a couple of the stars. Johnny Briggs (aka Mike Baldwin) opened a new shop for my boss in the early 1980s, and I enjoyed a champagne-fueled afternoon in his company. Later, I met Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) in a local supermarket. What a gracious lady – totally different to the termagent she played on screen.
As my children grew up, they too became big fans. None of them will ring me when ‘The Street’ is on – mainly because they’re also watching the latest developments in Weatherfield. If we do miss an episode, we either catch up on ITV2 later in the evening, or on the weekend omnibus edition.
In 2007, I was selected to appear on ‘Mastermind.’ I couldn’t have my first choice of subject, which was the Shakespeare Films of Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh, so I had to come up with something else pretty quickly. My kids have often joked that I knew so much about ‘Coronation Street’ I could take it as my specialist subject on ‘Mastermind,’ so that was exactly what I did! I won my heat, and I was rewarded with a tour of the ‘Coronation Street’ set.
My kids now tell anyone who will listen that their mother is the UK expert on ‘Coronation Street,’ and the trend seems set to continue. My three-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, claps her hands as soon as the theme tune for the show begins. Maybe at some time in the future her children will be ‘Coronation Street’ fans. I’m sure the show will still be running in another 20 years or so – it’s just too good to go.
After 49 years, I’m still as big a fan of ‘Coronation Street’ as ever. The show has endured because of its great acting, gripping storylines and unique comic touch. Just like in Shakespeare, moments of great drama or tragedy are interspersed with comedic interludes which serve to ratchet up the tension. ‘Coronation Street’ boasts a great ensemble cast, and there is no shining, individual star – the show itself is the star. Other soaps should watch and learn.