As Coronation Street celebrates 60 years, we look back at the soap's best bits

FROM the moment Coronation Street first aired live on December 9, 1960, millions have been gripped by the ups and downs of Weatherfield’s residents.

Its early days portrayed a ­realistic kitchen-sink drama showing the ordinary day-to-day lives of working-class northerners, and the show was considered ground-breaking.

But not everyone liked it. One early critic wrote: “The ­programme is doomed from the outset . . . with its dreary signature tune and grim scenes of a row of terraced houses.”

Sixty years on and the signature tune and terraced houses are still there, but it’s what goes on inside them that has kept viewers hooked throughout the decades.

More than 21million people witnessed brassy barmaid Bet Lynch finally achieve her dream of becoming landlady of the Rovers Return in 1985.

And an incredible 26million saw much-loved gossip Hilda Ogden’s final scenes in the show on Christmas Day 1987.

Meanwhile, more than 24million watched Ken and Deirdre Barlow’s 1981 wedding on ITV — more than those who switched on the channel to see Princess Diana marry Prince Charles two days later.

So what is it that keeps us ­tuning in? Here, we recall some of the serial’s best bits.

Births

THERE have been 57 births on the cobbles — some of them quite literally.

Rosie Webster made her dramatic first appearance in the back of a cab just around the corner in Rosamund Street in 1990.

Kevin Webster’s son Jack was born at home in Coronation Street in 2010, as was David and Kylie Platt’s daughter Lily in 2013.

Deaths

THE 146 deaths on the show have ranged from natural causes to murder, suicide and the bizarre, including Anne Malone who froze to death inside the freezer unit at Freshco’s in 1998, after she developed an unhealthy crush on Curly Watts.

Many deaths, though, have been more poignant.

Kylie Platt bled to death on the cobbles in husband David’s arms after being stabbed in 2016,

Hayley ­Cropper broke husband Roy’s heart when she took her own life in 2014.

And viewers needed their tissues when Vera Duckworth passed away peacefully from heart failure in 2008.

Weddings

CLOCKING up 131 in total, the Street has never been short of a good wedding — thanks to the best efforts of Steve McDonald (seven) and Gail Platt (six).

The first was Jack and Annie Walker’s daughter Joan, who married Gordon Davies in 1961, while the most recent was Sally and Tim Metcalfe last month.

Six optimistic couples have married each other twice — Gail and Brian Tilsley, Liz and Jim McDonald, Kevin and Sally Webster, Steve and Karen McDonald, Ken and Deirdre Barlow, and Nick and Leanne Tilsley.

But others have barely lasted past the vows, the shortest-lived being Steve McDonald and Tracy Barlow, which fell apart during the wedding reception in 2012.

Funerals

ONE of the saddest send-offs was that of Sinead Osbourne, whose wicker coffin was decorated with colourful ribbons and flowers last year.

The funniest funeral was that of gigolo Lewis Archer.

When heartbroken Audrey Roberts turned up at his 2019 farewell, she found it packed with a stream of other women all of a certain age.

Her love rival Claudia Colby read out a corny poem and argued publicly with Audrey — and the registrar went on so long that battleaxe Evelyn got out a flask.

Feuds

THE Street has always specialised in rivalries, with many rumbling on for years.

Gail Platt and Eileen Grimshaw hate each other because Eileen’s son Todd cheated on Gail’s daughter Sarah.

And there’s no love lost between Carla Connor and Tracy Barlow, after Carla slept with Tracy’s husband Robert.

The first feud featured Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner, with busybody Ena disapproving of Elsie’s glamorous lifestyle.

Perhaps the most famous feud of all was that of intellectual Ken Barlow and spiv factory boss Mike Baldwin. It was made all the worse when Ken’s wife Deirdre had an affair with the cocky Cockney factory boss.

The story was so big that the 1983 episode where she ended the affair was announced on the scoreboard during a Manchester United game at Old Trafford.

Animal stars

OUT of the 75 pets that have featured, it’s hard to say who is top dog on the Street.

Perhaps the best-loved was Chesney Brown’s 13st Great Dane Schmeichel, who passed away in 2011 after being played by four different dogs during the pet’s time on the show.

Actor Simon Gregson would undoubtedly vote for his character Steve McDonald’s pet pooch Rover. The hound was actually played by Simon’s own pet dog, Cookie.

Actress Samia Longchambon, meanwhile, said that her goodbye to Maria Connor’s black Labrador Ozzy in 2016 were the saddest scenes she has ever filmed.

There are plenty of other animals to add to the menagerie. Craig Tinker arrived on the cobbles with pet rat Darryl, young David Platt had his rabbit Barney.

And who can forget Mavis Riley’s budgie Harry (renamed Harriet after it laid an egg)?

The original 1960 cast

HERE are the original 20 Coronation Street characters from December 1960, together with – where applicable – the date the stars who played them passed away in real life.

Back row, from left: Harry Hewitt (Ivan Beavis, died 1997); Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth, died 1984); Ivan Cheveski (Ernst Walder, now aged 92); Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie, now 84); David Barlow (Alan Rothwell, now 83); Jack Walker (Arthur Leslie, died 1970); Extra Unnamed (William Croasdale), Frank Barlow (Frank Pemberton, died 1971); Ida Barlow (Noel Dyson, died 1995); Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant, died 1988).

Front row: Annie Walker (Doris Speed, died 1994); Florrie Lindley (Betty Alberge, died 1991); Linda Cheveski (Anne Cunningham, now 83); Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix, died 1986); Ena Sharples (Violet Carson, died 1983); Christine Hardman (Christine Hargreaves, died 1984); Ken Barlow (William Roache, now 88); Policewoman (Penelope Davies, died 2013); Sue Cunningham (Patricia Shakesby, now 77); and Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol, died 1990).

Murders

LONG-TIME Coronation Street fan Michael Parkinson complained that the soap had become too brutal after two characters were tortured and murdered by Pat Phelan in 2017.

Although there have been 24 murders, there were only a handful in the show’s first 15 years.

The first killing saw Elsie Tanner’s husband Steve pushed down the stairs in 1968. In the past 20 years, serial killers have upped the numbers.

They include smooth-talking villain Richard Hillman, who was responsible for three deaths, and brutal builder Pat Phelan – who clocked up a total of four victims.

Most killers eventually end up dead themselves or in jail, but two still currently reside happily in Weatherfield.

They are Tracy Barlow, who murdered her boyfriend Charlie Stubbs, and Gary Windass, who saw off loan shark Rick Neelan and was responsible for the death of Rana Habeeb, who died when the factory roof collapsed after Gary had tinkered with it.

Romances

THE course of true love rarely runs smoothly on the cobbles but some of the best-loved couples have spent as much time making love as war.

They include Jack and Vera Duckworth, Stan and Hilda Ogden, Steve and Karen McDonald and Steve and Tracy McDonald.

There have been 28 women in Ken Barlow’s life and Rita has received 15 proposals.

Others thankfully have had more peaceful romances.

Neither Roy nor Hayley Cropper had ever had a relationship before, but when they met in 1998 they soon realised they were soul mates.

Taboos

THE show has been pushing the boundaries since it began.

In 1963 it announced that Sheila Birtles would kill herself, but after public outrage the scenes were re-written so the screen faded into blackness.

In 1998 the series introduced Hayley, the first transsexual person in British soap history.

It tackled the taboo of male suicide in 2018, with the death of Aidan Connor after his secret battle with depression and also highlighted David Platt’s male rape ordeal in the same year.

More recently, viewers have been exposed to the harrowing coercive control storyline featuring Yasmeen and Geoff.

The show also broke new ground with Bethany Platt’s 2017 child sex exploitation story and modern-day slavery, with the story of nail bar worker Alina.

The dramatic storylines that kept viewers gripped

  • 1964: Emily Nugent made a leap-year proposal to Leonard Swindley but jilted him at the altar after getting cold feet.
  • 1965: Ena Sharples inherited No 11 and gleefully evicted sitting tenant Elsie Tanner. They brawled in the street.
  • 1967: Ken Barlow was jailed after refusing to pay his fine for joining an illegal demo against the Vietnam War.
  • 1967: A viaduct collapsed and a goods wagon crashed, leaving Ena Sharples trapped and Sonia Peters dead.
  • 1969: A coach crash left 17 Street residents in hospital as they returned from a day-trip to the Lake District.
  • 1971: Hours before Ken and Valerie Barlow were to emigrate to Jamaica, she was electrocuted by a faulty hairdryer.
  • 1977: Plans for a Queen’s Silver Jubilee parade float were scrapped when Stan Ogden left the lights on, draining the battery.
  • 1978: Mike Baldwin interrupted an armed robbery at his factory and clerk Ernie Bishop was shot dead.
  • 1978: Hilda Ogden’s famously wonky flying ducks arrived after her mural of the Rockies was ruined by Stan’s overflowing bath.
  • 1978: A lorry full of timber crashed into the Rovers. Deirdre Barlow feared her baby daughter Tracy was trapped.
  • 1983: The explosive love-triangle between Deirdre Barlow, her husband Ken and Deirdre’s lover Mike Baldwin had the nation gripped.
  • 1986: Kevin Webster heroically rescued unconscious Bet Lynch in her nightie after the Rovers caught fire at night.
  • 1987: Hilda Ogden said goodbye to Weatherfield in 1987 and moved to Derbyshire as a doctor’s housekeeper.
  • 1989: After Gail Tilsley told husband Brian she wanted a divorce, he went out drinking but ended up being fatally stabbed when he tried to stop thugs attacking a woman.
  • 1989: Alan Bradley chased terrified Rita Fairclough along Blackpool prom, but ran into an oncoming tram.
  • 1991: Bet Lynch talked Ken out of taking a fatal mix of pills and alcohol on New Year’s Eve after he failed to win back Deirdre.
  • 1993: Supermarket boss Reg Holdsworth persuaded Maureen Naylor to help christen his new waterbed, but it sprang a leak.
  • 1995: Tracy collapsed after taking Ecstasy. Stepdad Samir planned to donate a kidney but was killed by a mugger on his way to hospital.
  • 1998: Deirdre was framed for fraud and sentenced to 18 months in prison after getting tangled up with fake-pilot conman Jon Lindsay.
  • 1999: Roy Cropper married transsexual Hayley.
  • 2000: Steve McDonald fell foul of villain Jez Quigley. Dad Jim beat up Jez, who later died from his injuries. Jim was sentenced to eight years in jail.
  • 2000: Aged 13, schoolgirl Sarah Platt gave birth to daughter Bethany.
  • 2001: Much-loved Alma Baldwin died of cervical cancer, surrounded by her family and friends.
  • 2003: Twisted serial killer Richard Hillman kidnapped the Platt family and tried to kill them by driving them into the canal.
  • 2006: Lying on the cobbles in the arms of his arch-nemesis Ken Barlow, Mike Baldwin died after suffering a heart attack.
  • 2007: Tracy Barlow was jailed after murdering evil boyfriend Charlie Stubbs by hitting him with a miniature statue.
  • 2010: Tony Gordon held Carla Connor and Hayley Cropper hostage in the Underworld factory but died when the building exploded.
  • 2010: The spectacular tram crash in the live 50th anniversary episode resulted in Molly Dobbs and Ashley Peacock dying.
  • 2014: Tragic Hayley Cropper took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
  • 2015: Kylie Platt killed Callum Logan in a live episode. David, Kylie and Sarah took advantage of building work at their house to bury the body there.
  • 2018: After shooting Michelle Connor at her own wedding, evil Pat Phelan was fatally stabbed by Anna Windass.

Who Ken that be?

MANY famous faces have graced the cobbles over the years – some when they were starting out in their careers, others as household names and fans keen to add a Corrie cameo to their CV.

Here, we reveal some of the biggest stars to appear on Britain’s best-known street before – and after – they found wider fame.















Who’s who in Street crew

DUE to Covid restrictions, the cast could not get together for a 60th anniversary photo, so we’ve used their last group shot from the 50th anniversary (see above).

Character name – actor name

  1. Sunita Alahan – Shobna Gulati
  2. Dev Alahan – Jimmi Harkishin
  3. Baby Liam Connor – Ollie and Elliott Barnett
  4. Kirk Sutherland – Andrew Whyment
  5. Claire Peacock – Julia Haworth
  6. Maria Connor – Samia Longchambon
  7. Carla Connor – Alison King
  8. Ashley Peacock – Steven Arnold
  9. Nick Tilsley – Ben Price
  10. Claudia Colby – Rula Lenska
  11. Chesney Brown – Sam Aston
  12. Bill Webster – Peter Armitage
  13. Fiz Stape – Jennie McAlpine
  14. Eileen Grimshaw – Sue Cleaver
  15. Cheryl Gray – Holly Quin-Ankrah
  16. John Stape – Graeme Hawley
  17. Chris Gray – Will Thorp
  18. Trevor Dean – Steve Jackson
  19. Ciaran McCarthy – Keith Duffy
  20. Michelle Connor – Kum Marsh
  21. Gary Windass – Mikey North
  22. Ryan Connor – Ben Thompson
  23. Lloyd Mullaney – Craig Charles
  24. Anna Windass – Debbie Rush
  25. Eddie Windass – Steve Hudson
  26. Aadi Alahan – Zennon Ditchett
  27. Asha Alahan – Tanisha Gorey
  28. Peter Barlow – Chris Gascoyne
  29. Katy Armstrong – Georgia May Foote
  30. Leanne Battersby – Jane Danson
  31. Owen Armstrong – Ian Puleston-Davies
  32. Audrey Roberts – Sue Nicholls
  33. Janice Battersby – Vicky
    Entwistle
  34. Gail Platt (was McIntyre at the time) – Helen Worth
  35. Natasha Blakeman – Rachel Leskovac
  36. Julie Carp – Katy Cavanagh
  37. David Platt – Jack P Shepherd
  38. Jason Grimshaw – Ryan Thomas
  39. Tina McIntyre – Michelle Keegan
  40. Graeme Proctor – Craig Gazey
  41. Sean Tully – Antony Cotton
  42. Sian Powers – Sacha Parkinson
  43. Mary Taylor – Patti Clare
  44. Hayley Cropper – Julie Hesmondhalgh
  45. Norris Cole – Malcolm Hebdon
  46. Roy Cropper – David Neilson
  47. Tyrone Dobbs – Alan Halsall
  48. Molly Dobbs – Vicky Binns
  49. Pam Hobsworth – Kate Anthony
  50. Izzy Armstrong – Cherylee Houston
  51. Russ Gray – Finton Flynn
  52. Simon Barlow – Alex Bain
  53. Betty Williams – Betty Driver
  54. Rita Sullivan – Barbara Knox
  55. Sally Webster – Sally Dynevor
  56. Kevin Webster – Michael Le Vell
  57. Deirdre Barlow – Anne Kirkbride
  58. Rosie Webster – Helen Flanagan
  59. Ken Barlow – William Roache
  60. Sophie Webster – Brooke Vincent
  61. Emily Bishop – Eileen Derbyshire
  62. Liz McDonald – Beverly Callard
  63. Jack Duckworth – Bill Tarmey
  64. Steve McDonald – Simon Gregson
  65. Becky McDonald – Katherine Kelly
  66. Kylie Turner – Paula Lane
  67. Amy Barlow – Elle Mulvaney
  68. Joshua Peacock – Benjamin Beresford
  69. Freddie Peacock – Niall and Luke Beresford
  70. Eccles
  71. Schmeichel
  72. Ozzy

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