Happy 50th birthday Corrie
Here are some snaps from my visit to Coronation Street's famous set taken while making a report for TV news. The soap was originally slated to run for a few weeks, but then took off like one of Jack Duckworth's pigeons and established itself as part of the country's dramatic DNA.
John Betjeman was a fan - he considered it right up there with Dickens - as was (allegedly) Tony Blair. The show has frequently been lauded for picking up where John Osborne's Look Back in Anger left off. And there have been plenty of kitchen sinks, feisty women and flying ducks to entertain all classes for half a century.
The show's magic exists in the three pillars of great drama: brilliant characterisation, jeopardy and gripping story lines. A potent mix made intoxicating when added with a generous dash of dry comic wit.
I spent 15 years of my life watching the show, mainly with my dad, and therefore have far too many nostalgic memories to be able to judge it dispassionately. For me, in my Corrie watching years (1975-1990), it was the best thing on television by a northern mile of cobbled streets.
The set visit reminded me of the programme's magic ingredient: it was totally believable. The plies of bricks lying in the street after the tram crash were genuinely piles of bricks. The tools and machinery in Kevin Webster's garage appeared to be fully functioning tools and machinery. You could walk into the houses and they felt like proper houses not a set of fake walls and tactically placed scenery. Sadly The Rovers Return was shut so I didn't get a chance to pull a pint, but the cobbles were real.
I agree with Betjeman, Coronation Street is one of the great serialised dramas of our age as were Dickens's Pickwick Papers back in the 19th Century.
Happy Birthday Corrie.