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Celebrating 60 years of the Weatherfield cobbles

Philip Stevens looks back over 60 years of ITV's Coronation Street

On December 9th 2020 Coronation Street will celebrate its 60th anniversary cementing its place in television history as the world’s longest running drama serial.  

The show, created by a young scriptwriter named Tony Warren, was first screened live at 7pm on Friday 9th December 1960 and changed the face of British television forever. It has been captivating audiences and proving a ratings success ever since.

More than 10,000 episodes later the Guinness World Record holding programme has seen 57 births, 146 deaths and 131 weddings alongside affairs, murders, secrets and lies, and not forgetting that unique blend of pathos and northern humour that makes the show just as popular today as it was all those years ago.

To celebrate this incredible milestone ITV is screening special shows, publishing an anniversary book, launching new products, unveiling unique social media content and of course at the centre of it all will be a fantastic week of drama on the cobbles of Weatherfield.

The anniversary week will see three storylines reach spectacular conclusions whilst at the same time starting off new chains of events which will take the show into 2021 and beyond. 

For months the nation has been gripped by the appalling abuse inflicted by Geoff Metcalfe upon his wife Yasmeen. With Yasmeen on remand charged with Geoff’s attempted murder, the anniversary week will see the end of her trial. Will justice be done or is the nightmare only just beginning for Yasmeen and Alya?

Meanwhile Carla and Adam battle to keep the shameful secret of their illicit night together, knowing that if the truth comes out it will ruin their lives and those around them. Nothing stays quiet for long in soaps, and as the week progresses the web of lies and deceit they’ve created threatens to destroy them with shocking consequences.

At the centre of the anniversary drama is of course Coronation Street itself as the residents unite to save the cobbles from the dastardly dealings of Ray Crosby. Having bought up most of the property and businesses in the area, Ray is ready to flatten the lot to make way for his new development. As the bulldozers arrive on the cobbles the race is on to save Britain’s most famous street.

The show will be screened on ITV as three one-hour episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7.30pm. During the anniversary week fans will also be treated to two new ITV documentaries; Coronation Street 60 Unforgettable years and Queens of the Street.

BritBox subscribers can also watch a selection of dramas and episodes celebrating Britain’s favourite and longest-running soap. This includes The Road to Coronation Street (a drama documenting the journey of Coronation Street from conception to its first transmission in December 1960), Against The Odds: The Pat Phoenix Story (a drama following Pat Phoenix’s ill-fated affair with fellow actor Tony Booth in the 1950s) and Coronation Street: 60 Years in 60 Episodes (60 handpicked episodes which showcase the very best Corrie moments).

With average viewing figures in the UK still topping 7 million per episode, Coronation Street is a worldwide phenomenon, having been sold to 135 countries.

On how the show has survived for 60 years, John Whiston, managing director of Continuing Drama & Head of ITV in the North, said, Coronation Street is very special. It’s about the humanity of seeing characters developed through the brains, intelligences and hearts of so many people. And seeing how they deal with situations you know you may have to deal with yourself in life. It’s a guide to humanity with a little bit of comfort blanket thrown in along with a little bit of sharp, northern wit.”

“It is the mix. Realistic storylines which tackle strong subjects – and Corrie has always had them – with more soapy affairs and people getting in other people’s faces. And then the humour, which the writers are so adept at. Coronation Street has always been characterised as strong women and feckless men. I’ve tried to keep that tradition.”

The show’s longest serving cast member William Roache MBE has been there since the first episode. Reflecting on the show’s longevity he says, “Coronation Street has got a big heart. It’s a happy place to come to work. I look forward to going to work. That comes through on screen. There’s no doubt about that. Part of Coronation Street’s success is the love and the enjoyment for the show.”

He adds, “There is no reason why Coronation Street cannot go on forever if it continues to adapt to what is happening. Coronation Street is a massive part of my life. I love it and I am eternally grateful to it. I love what I’m doing. I see the future of more of the same and more enjoyment.”