Tag Archives: Manchester

Third Generation

Tony Warren 1992

The Queen came to Coronation Street and she stood and chatted to me. I really couldn’t believe it. Because they’d just rebuilt the set. And I was standing there after she’d gone. I thought: how many writers wake up one morning and they think, well, I’ll write a show. I’ll have a pub at one end of the street and I’ll have a corner shop at the other.

And they live to see it built, first of all, in the studio in just lath and plaster. Then to see it built out on the backlot once and then to see it totally rebuilt. And my goodness, there’s the Queen of England walking down it. I was dazed by the whole thing.

Then this man came up to me and he said “have you got to the third generation yet?” And I thought go away! In fact, I thought much more strongly than that. I’ve just been talking to the Queen of England!

I suddenly realized, and I said, you know, you’ve just earned yourself a gold clock. He said, what do you mean? I said, well, there’s a gold clock for anyone who asks an original question about Coronation Street and that is an original one.

Elsie begat Linda who begat Paul Cheveski. Yes, we have got to the third generation. And where would you like the clock sent? He said, we’re not short of them at the Palace. And it was the Duke of Edinburgh!

Tony Warren with Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Street set 1982 corriepedia
L-R (facing camera) Bill Podmore, H V Kershaw, Denis Parkin, Tony Warren (backs to camera) David Plowright, Prince Philip, Denis Forman, Elizabeth II 1982 photo Corriepedia

Gold Clock Moment

Coronation Street creator Tony Warren told me, in 1992, about Queen Elizabeth opening the show’s new set 10 years earlier. About looking at it, his realm on the backlot of Granada Studios. And then, thanks to Prince Philip, thinking about the lineage of the characters he had created.

Tony Warren lived to see another incarnation of his street – larger and in a totally new area, but the same bricks and cobbles. In 2013 the new set at Media City UK opened. tony-warren and ITV tony warren building-Jtomlin1uk-2014-corriepedia

But it was still Tony’s realm, and his history. “I’m the only person here today who has been in four times to see the brand new set installed,” he told Ian Wylie (Life of Wylie). “Coronation Street hasn’t moved at all. It’s exactly where it always was. Which is wherever you want it to be inside your own imagination.”

Tony also saw the fourth generation added to his families. Not the Tanner-valerie-and-ken-barlow third generation twins-peter-and-susan-1965-maz79-corriepediaCheveski family, but the Barlows. Like Linda and her mother, Ken Barlow and his parents were in the very first episode. Sixty-eight years later, he is still there. So are his children – third generation – and his grandchildren – the fourth generation.

It’s three months since I left the Street. I miss it, yes, but my routine has shifted to fill the gap it left. Will I return? Not yet. I want to know that I will stay when I come back. I can’t just drop in for a visit.

Corrie Street 28 May 2017

To what end?

Ken says to what endWednesday, Ken asked the question I’ve been asking myself about his storyline. “But to what end? It doesn’t make sense.” Ken was commenting on why Tracy would have hit him over the head. I was commenting on the whole storyline since its early days.

Ok, I can see having each of his children a suspect for a time. But my credulity has been strained, as has my patience. Too many people getting dragged into it – to what end? The whole plot has become too busy. So many people, so much sneaking around. It doesn’t make sense.

Ken sees photo of deirdre is goneBringing Rob back? In order for that to explain that, a whole off-screen story had to be told. And why? To put Tracy and Amy in a convoluted, and unbelievable, story that involved a nice location shoot.

Tracy suspected Amy of being the one who had hurt Ken. At the end of the episode, Rob voiced something else I’d been saying to my tv. “I just did what you should have at the start. I asked her if she was the one who hurt Ken. She said no.” That was in answer to Tracy’s question of how he knew that Amy hadn’t done it. Yes, Tracy, it can be that easy! That Tracy would volunteer herself for prison and let her father believe she’d harm him? Without asking Amy for sure? Not easy to believe.

ken looks at stairwayKen’s story started as an exciting whodunit. A large cast of suspects, goody, let’s all be Hercule Poirot! But then the circles started spinning off into new circles. You need a playbook to remember everybody involved and everybody’s story. Now I don’t care who they arrest, just let it end.

Manchester Stand Strong

In real life, the Manchester bombing also raises the question “But to what end?” Twenty-two people were killed and many more injured as they left a concert. One of those killed was Martyn Hett, a Coronation Street, and Deirdre, “super-fan”.

Martyn Hett stuffed marrow videoHe has wonderful videos on YouTube. My favourite is his cooking lesson on making Deirdre’s Stuffed Marrow. Thank you for that, Martyn, and for the the “Audrey Roberts Noise”. My condolences to Martyn’s family and friends, and to all the victims of this tragedy. Like Ken said, “it doesn’t make sense.” And, as Manchester is saying, “stand strong.”

See my Aug. 2, 2015 post for stuffed marrow made by Robert Preston on the show and by Martyn Hett on YouTube.

Tony Warren

My hanging out in Manchester buddy died yesterday. Tony Warren, Tony Warren youtube 50th anniversary digital spycreator of Coronation Street and my accidental tour guide, died at the age of 79.

One day, a long time ago, Tony Warren and I walked from Granada Studios to the city centre of Manchester. He took me around his city. It wasn’t planned. We went to a nearby shop for cigarettes and just kept going.

I was interviewing him for a radio documentary on Coronation Street. We sat on a bench in the lobby of Granada House. I had my tape recorder running and he told me about the beginning of the show. It was a tale he’d told before, but he made it fresh-sounding and interesting. Great for radio.

Harry_Elton-6th-right 1963-coronationstreet-wikia
Harry Elton, 6th from right, 1963

As I listened, in my head I was intercutting what he was saying with an earlier interview I’d done with original Coronation Street producer Harry Elton. I knew the two voices, both good at storytelling and telling the same story, would play beautifully off each other. Tony liked that idea, putting together the two founding fathers of a British institution. Both had often told the story of the show’s start in 1960 and both referenced the other, of course. But with one in England and the other in Canada, the two halves were not often in the same telling.

We sat in the lobby way longer than the half hour he had allotted me. Granada closed for the day, with only a security guard there to let us out. We had smoked almost all the cigarettes we had between us, so Rovers_Return_Granada-stuart-jamieson-1987-wikicommonshe said let’s go, there’s a shop just up the road.

Out to the main road and back toward the city. We stopped at a corner store and stocked up on smokes, then kept walking. A pub stop, more walking, then dinner at a Chinese restaurant where signed photos of Coronation Street stars decorated the walls and staff greeted Tony like a long-time family friend.

Talk about the early days of the show, and about the years he spent trying to get away from it. In Amsterdam, turning on the tv and Coronation Street being on. Turning the tv off. On a London bus, overhearing the passengers in front of him talking about what had happened in last night’s episode. Trying to read analyses of Coronation Street that gave it social significance he had not imagined possible. “You’re not doing one of those, are you?” He wouldn’t tell me which books, but I’d hazard a guess at some he was talking about.

Coronation St Oct 2007 Jordan-1972-wikicommonsHe’d moved into novel writing, about Manchester and entertainment. The same topics he’d loved since he was a young man, starting a writing career. He’d also come to terms to being defined by Coronation Street, and he was justifiably proud of the city he’d created within his city. Thank you, Tony Warren.

(See also my Coronation Street 50th 2011 post)