List of original Coronation Street characters

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The following is a list of the original 21 regular characters from the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street. Series creator Tony Warren is heralded as the mastermind who devised each and every one of these characters, drawing inspiration from his own life growing up in the back streets of Manchester, where the series is set.[1]

Original cast[edit]

Character Actor Duration
David Barlow Alan Rothwell 1960–1961, 1963, 1964–1968
Frank Barlow Frank Pemberton 1960–1964, 1967, 1971
Ida Barlow Noel Dyson 1960–1961
Ken Barlow William Roache 1960–present
Minnie Caldwell Margot Bryant 1960–1976
Ivan Cheveski Ernst Walder 1960–1961, 1962–1963, 1966, 1967
Linda Cheveski Anne Cunningham 1960–1961, 1962–1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1984, 1987
Christine Hardman Christine Hargreaves 1960–1961, 1962–1963
Esther Hayes Daphne Oxenford 1960–1961, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972
Harry Hewitt Ivan Beavis 1960–1964, 1965, 1967
Lucille Hewitt Jennifer Moss 1960–1961, 1962–1969, 1970–1974
Florrie Lindley Betty Alberge 1960–1965
Martha Longhurst Lynne Carol 1960–1964
Concepta Riley Doreen Keogh 1960–1964, 1967, 1972, 1975
Ena Sharples Violet Carson 1960–1980
Leonard Swindley Arthur Lowe 1960–1961, 1962–1965
Dennis Tanner Philip Lowrie 1960–1962, 1963–1968, 2011–2014
Elsie Tanner Patricia Phoenix 1960–1973, 1976–1984
Albert Tatlock Jack Howarth 1960–1984
Annie Walker Doris Speed 1960–1983
Jack Walker Arthur Leslie 1960–1970

Departures[edit]

1960–1963[edit]

Of the original cast, few survived the sixties. The first to quit was Alan Rothwell, who played aspiring footballer David Barlow, although he later returned for a further four-year stint in 1964. Following his exit, Noel Dyson, who played Ida Barlow, declined a new contract and became the first regular character to die, with Ida meeting her maker under the wheels of a bus in September 1961.

In late 1961, when the show was now fully networked and at the height of its popularity, a handful of cast members were forced to leave the show due to a strike of the actors' union Equity. These included the Cheveskis, Christine, Esther, Lucille, Mr. Swindley and later Dennis. The rest of the cast were safe due to having previously signed two-year contracts, a rarity in television at the time. The long break caused actors Philip Lowrie and Anne Cunningham to decline new contracts six months later once the strike was over, though Lowrie later made a full-time return a year later.

1964–1967[edit]

The biggest change to hit the cast occurred in 1964 when Tim Aspinall, a young twenty-something bursting with ideas, was named as the new producer. Within days, he axed several fan favourites including Frank, Harry, Concepta, and most controversially, Martha Longhurst. It was later reported that ITV bosses had stepped in for the first time in order to save Albert, Ken, his wife Valerie and Lucille from the chop. Rovers cleaner Martha was a particular favourite with viewers, who enjoyed her friendship with Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell, affectionately known as 'the snug trio' due to their many scenes sat in the snug of the Rovers Return gossiping about the locals. Martha's death caused outrage with the public, so much so that actress Violet Carson, who played Ena, almost refused to take part in Martha's final scene.

Aspinall was sacked later that year, but not before Betty Alberge was given her marching orders and her final scenes as shopkeeper Florrie Lindley aired in June 1965. Weeks before, Arthur Lowe also made his final appearance. He later reprised his role of Leonard Swindley in two spin-off comedy series Pardon The Expression and Turn Out The Lights, which featured several future and, strangely, former stars of the street in different roles. Original cast member Christine Hargreaves appeared briefly in one episode as a character named Dawn.

1968–1980[edit]

Coronation Street lost its original teenagers Dennis and David in 1968, and the cast and crew were shocked in 1970 by the sudden death of Arthur Leslie from a heart attack. As his co-stars, family and fans mourned, his character, pub landlord Jack Walker, suffered the same fate off-screen weeks later when he was quietly written out of the show.

Producers were devastated in 1973 when Pat Phoenix handed in her resignation after thirteen years playing tart-with-a-heart Elsie Tanner, becoming increasingly tired of the role. Elsie left the Street later that year with husband Alan Howard, played by Phoenix's real-life husband Alan Browning. A year later, another original departed as actress Jennifer Moss' alcohol abuse forced producers to axe the character of Lucille Hewitt. 1976 saw Elsie return to the Street for another eight-year stint, while the show lost another of its stars in the form of Minnie Caldwell. Elderly actress Margot Bryant suffered with memory loss and couldn't continue in the role, so it was decided that Minnie would move away. Due to her own advancing age, Violet Carson's appearances also became increasingly sparse in the late 1970s, leading to a low-key exit in 1980.

1980—[edit]

By the time of the programme's twentieth anniversary in December 1980, only four remained - Elsie, Ken, Annie and Albert. The original landlady Annie Walker abruptly left in 1983, with Elsie departing for the final time only a couples of months later in early 1984. Grumpy war veteran Albert Tatlock was also written out in 1984 following the death of actor Jack Howarth, making William Roache the sole surviving member of the original cast having played Ken Barlow since day one.

Since Anne Cunningham ended her short return stint as Linda Cheveski in 1984, Ken has been the only original cast member still on the Street and along with the show itself, celebrated fifty years on television in December 2010.[2] In January 2011, it was announced Philip Lowrie would be reprising his role as Dennis Tanner after a 43-year absence. Lowrie's return in May 2011 meant Roache was now joined by a second original cast member on the Street for the first time since Cunningham departed 27 years previous.[3]

From May 2013 onwards the character of Ken was put on hiatus due to alleged historical sexual offences towards actor Bill Roache came out and the character was written out in July that year with the explanation on going to see his grandson Adam.[4]

In December 2013, it was announced that Philip Lowrie was going to be axed from Coronation Street and his character Dennis Tanner left in 2014, 3 years since his return.[5] He departed on 30 July 2014, again leaving Ken Barlow the only remaining original.

References[edit]