Storylines of Coronation Street

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Storylines of Coronation Street, the British ITV soap opera, have spanned more than five decades, from the programme's inception in 1960, until present-day 2013. Coronation Street has covered a number of storylines that created dispute and debate in the media and caused public outcry from viewers. Popular storylines have also seen an increase in viewer numbers, such as the jailing of Deirdre Rachid in 1998[1] as well as large media coverage, such as the sacking of Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough) in 1983.[2] Some storylines are seen as having caused controversy among viewers and in the media due to the sudden sacking of an actor by the programme's producer or as a result of a topic or theme that openly shocked viewers or was seen as taboo.

Although the programme is recognised as a drama serial, Coronation Street is known on occasion for its light humour and comic characters (see Humour in Coronation Street.)

Controversial sackings[edit]

Death of Martha Longhurst (1964)[edit]

In 1964, Coronation Street appointed new producer, Tim Aspinall.[3] Aspinall decided on a new broom policy and 'The Bloody Purge' of 1964 began, with nine actors being sacked in total.[3][4]

The first cast member to be written out was Lynne Carol, who had played Martha Longhurst since episode one and the preview of the programme.[5] Martha Longhurst was a popular character, and formed part of the trio of 'Ena, Minnie and Martha' who were regularly seen drinking milk stout in the Snug bar of the Rovers Return and gossiping about the other residents. Her sacking was so controversial that fellow actress Violet Carson (Ena Sharples) threatened to quit, but she was eventually talked round.[3] The media reported extensively on the storyline, and when Lynne Carol took a private trip to the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in London, she was mobbed by fans and asked to leave on the grounds of public safety.[6]

On 13 May 1964, the show aired Martha's death, dying of a heart attack in the Snug of the Rovers Return.

Many, including Coronation Street writer H.V. Kershaw, saw the killing of Martha as a desperate move to boost viewer ratings.[6]

Sacking of Jennifer Moss (1974)[edit]

During the 1960s and early 1970s, core cast member Jennifer Moss (who had played Lucille Hewitt since episode four) had struggled with alcohol addiction.[7] In 1974 new producer Susi Hush fired Moss rather abruptly. Moss was a fan favourite and many viewers were not happy at the turn of events, with Lucille suddenly disappearing to live in Ireland with no explanation.[8]

While actors in the 1990s might have been helped through such a period by Coronation Street production company Granada Television, Moss was offered no such support.[7]

Killing of Ernest Bishop (1977)[edit]

In September 1977 the News of the World quoted actor Stephen Hancock (Ernest Bishop) as saying 'The Street kills an actor. I'm just doing a job, not acting. The scriptwriters have turned me into Ernie Bishop. I've tried to resist it but it is very hard not to play the part all the time, even at home.' [9] This was the first sight the public had of a bitter argument between Hancock and Granada Television. Hancock objected to the cast payment system, and threatened to quit the show to safeguard his principles.[10] The main dispute was between Hancock and the show's producer at the time, Bill Podmore, with Podmore being nicknamed 'The Godfather' by the British media.[10]

The basis of Hancock's argument was that different actors were guaranteed different numbers of episode appearances per year, thus some were paid more than others. Actors from the earliest days of the programme, including Pat Phoenix, Doris Speed and Peter Adamson, were guaranteed payment for every one of the year's episodes, regardless of them actually appearing.[11] Podmore was not willing to change what he called a 'complex and well-established system',[11] leading Hancock to stand by his principles and resign.

The problem now shifted, and writers had to write Ernie out but save his wife Emily. The decision was made for Ernest to be killed off in a bungled robbery at Mike Baldwin's factory, where he worked as a wages clerk. Ernest was killed by a single gunshot to the stomach on 11 January 1978.[12] It was the first time that violence on such a scale had been shown on Coronation Street and after the episode was aired, Granada's switchboard was jammed by angry viewers. Letters of complaint arrived in their hundreds, and the Lobby Against TV Violence fiercely objected Granada's decision to broadcast the episode.[10] Granada stated that the storyline was not about violence, but that it aimed to show the desolation and loss felt by Ernest's wife, Emily.[13]

Twenty-eight years later, in 2006 Thomas Edward 'Ed' Jackson, known only as Ed, befriended Emily Bishop, having joined her church. Ed revealed to Emily that he was one of the men involved in the armed robbery, and that he had shot and killed her husband.

Killing of Len Fairclough (1983)[edit]

Peter Adamson, who had played Len Fairclough since 2 February 1961,[14] was sacked in 1983 for breach of contract. He had been warned by Granada Television for writing unauthorized newspaper articles criticising the show and cast. Coronation Street producer Bill Podmore sacked Adamson when it was revealed he had sold his memoirs after the previous warning.[15]

The sacking coincided with allegations of Adamson having indecently assaulted two young girls. In April 1983, a Sunday newspaper reported that Adamson had been arrested for indecently assaulting two eight-year-old girls in a swimming pool.[16] The police complaint was that Adamson's hands had strayed while giving the girls swimming lessons. Granada Television gave Adamson financial support through his legal problems, with a Crown Court jury finding him not guilty in July 1983.[15]

Adamson's dispute over his memoirs and newspaper articles was not known to the public, and the media reported that Adamson had been dismissed because of the shame indecent assault allegations had brought on Granada and the Coronation Street brand.[15]

Len Fairclough was killed off-screen in a motorway crash on 7 December 1983. To demonise the character, it was revealed that he had been returning home from an affair, cheating on wife Rita (Barbara Knox).[17]

Adamson celebrated the character's death by delivering an obituary on TV-am dressed as an undertaker.[18]

Killing of Brian Tilsley (1988)[edit]

In 1988, actor Christopher Quinten, who had played Brian Tilsley since 27 December 1978,[19] told bosses at Granada that he was going to move to the United States to marry his then-fiancée, American talk show host Leeza Gibbons and to build an acting career in Los Angeles.[20] In announcing his resignation, Quinten tried to ensure that his role would be left open for him to return in the event that his American career failed.

At the time, his character Brian Tilsley was married to Gail (Helen Worth), and the story conference called to write Brian out struggled to find a justifiable way to write him out while still leaving enough scope for a possible return. The decision was made that Brian should die.[21]

Quinten was in L.A. when the storyline was decided, and on returning to the United Kingdom he was shocked at Brian's fate and threatened to fly back to America so that scenes could not be filmed.[21] He was talked round by co-star Helen Worth, who pointed out that he may be blacklisted by Equity if he quit the programme abruptly.[21]

Brian Tilsley's death aired on 15 February 1989. After the breakdown of his marriage to Gail, Brian started spending his evenings going to discos and meeting a selection of women. He tried to protect a young lady from a group of thugs outside a nightclub and was stabbed in the stomach. He died from his injuries.[22] The stabbing brought massive complaints from viewers, and Mary Whitehouse delivered an angry sermon about television violence.[21]

Controversial themes[edit]

Sheila Birtles' suicide attempt (1963)[edit]

In 1963, Coronation Street announced that the character of Sheila Birtles (Eileen Mayers) would commit suicide, after her husband Neil Crossley (Geoffrey Matthews) hit her in an angry rage. The public were outraged to hear of Sheila's suicide. Instead, the storyline was re-written so that the viewers only saw Sheila taking the pills and the screen faded into blackness. Actress Eileen Mayers stated that, "It was disappointing, it was good and it wasn't shown", referring to Sheila's suicide scenes. However, in 2011, the scenes were shown in the documentary series, The Corrie Years, for the first time. Upon the announcement that the suicide scenes were to be shown 50 years later, a Coronation Street insider said in an interview, "At the time, it deemed controversial. But compared to what goes on in soap operas nowadays, I don't think the scenes will be very shocking". Sheila's suicide attempt has been compared to that of Natasha Blakeman's (Rachel Leskovac) in 2010 in the soap.

Valerie Barlow's attack (1968)[edit]

In 1968, Coronation Street scriptwriters developed one of the programme's most dramatic storylines to date.[23] While Ken Barlow was working on a school play, his wife Valerie was kept hostage after a convicted rapist, Frank Riley, who had escaped from prison, forced his way into the Barlow flat. The Barlow twins were asleep in their bed, with Valerie insisting that she was alone, only for one of the twins to wake up crying allowing Riley to use them as a threat to Valerie if she did not comply to his wishes. The story was spread across two episodes, the second seeing the police surround the Barlow flat and Riley tell Valerie that he may as well have some fun with her now he had been caught. The storyline saw a turning-point in the Barlow marriage, as Ken refused to believe that Valerie had not been raped.[24]

Parentage of Gordon Clegg (1974)[edit]

In 1974, Irene Sutcliffe decided to leave the show, having played cornershop owner Maggie Clegg since 1 April 1968.[25] Maggie emigrated to Zaire in 1974 with old-flame, Ron Cooke. Producer at the time, Susi Hush, decided to write a storyline where Gordon Clegg was revealed to be not the son of Maggie but the illegitimate son of her sister, Betty Turpin.[26]

Sutcliffe made it known that she felt very hurt by the storyline, since she believed it tore apart the foundation of the character she had spent six years building.[26] In an attempt to extend an olive branch in an informal apology, Hush invited Sutcliffe to return for Christmas festivities in a couple of episodes at the end of the year, which she accepted.

Deirdre Langton's attack (1977)[edit]

In 1977, the writers of the show wrote a controversial storyline turn for actress Anne Kirkbride and her character, Deirdre Langton. In the story, Deirdre walked home from her exercise class and was attacked by a man who tried to rape her. He molested her, but she managed to run home. Filled with guilt and shame, she would not tell her husband, Ray, what had happened. Eventually, her thoughts turned to suicide. Deirdre decided to jump off a bridge, but was distracted when a passer-by asked for directions. At that time, she had an epiphany and told Ray what had transpired.

Although the subject matter was very controversial, the storyline's execution taught many other women who had been in the same situation to tell the police, a loved one, or both, about their respective ordeals.

Ken, Deirdre and Mike (1982)[edit]

In late 1982, writer Adele Rose came up with the idea that Deirdre, quickly bored in new marriage to Ken Barlow, would have an affair with Mike Baldwin. In Rose's line of reasoning, Deirdre would strongly believe that Ken was neglecting her, and that being with Mike would make her feel alive. In the widely viewed episode in which Deirdre confessed all to Ken, she told him that she felt like "the wallpaper, or a piece of furniture that's been around forever... it's like [they've] been married for twenty years." In an unscripted move, Ken, blinded by anger, grabbed Deirdre by the throat and started to strangle her. Anne Kirkbride, who did not know of the sudden change in direction, reacted with more conviction, she admitted later, than had she known of the action beforehand. Eventually, Deirdre began to have doubts about staying with Mike Baldwin. The writers of the series scheduled the episode, in which Deirdre reconciled with Ken, effectively ending her relationship with Mike Baldwin, on the night that popular football teams Manchester United and Arsenal F.C. played at Old Trafford. At the end of the episode, which aired on 23 February 1983, Deirdre slammed the door of No. 1 in Mike's face. Dejected and with a shattered hubris, Mike drove away from the Street. As soon as the credits finished rolling, the scoreboard at the stadium read "Deirdre and Ken United Again!" and "Ken 1 Mike 0" in big letters, to the excitement of cheering fans. The episode was one of the highest-rated in Corrie's history.

First transsexual person in a British soap opera (1998)[edit]

In 1998, the Street introduced the first transsexual person in British soap history. Its handling of the story, and Hayley Patterson (Julie Hesmondhalgh) ultimately "marrying" bookish nerd Roy Cropper, proved immensely popular, and was praised by transgendered groups, not least in how it highlighted transgender issues, such as how she remained registered for tax purposes as a man called "Harold", leading to ridicule from her boss, Mike Baldwin.

Coronation Street did not feature a gay resident until 2003, unlike EastEnders which had gay-themed storylines in the 1980s, and Emmerdale which has a lesbian vet and a number of other gay characters, both male and female. Recently the soap introduced its first lesbian couple, Sophie Webster and Sian Powers. The young teenage pair had been the talk of controversy on the show and gave young girls a way "out" so to speak. They split up at the end of 2011.

Deirdre Rachid jailed (1998)[edit]

On the 29 March 1998, Deirdre Rachid was sent to prison after a former lover implicated her in a bank fraud scheme. A campaign led by tabloid newspapers and the occasional graffiti artist, with the slogan of "Free the Weatherfield One!", petitioned the Home Secretary to become involved on Deirdre's behalf. Even Tony Blair called for Deirdre to be freed. After three weeks, Deirdre was released from prison and four different newspapers claimed victory for themselves and their readers. However, the producers of the programme had planned the entire time for Deirdre to stay in prison for three weeks.

Illegal Immigration (2007)[edit]

In Spring 2007, Coronation Street began broadcasting one of its most politically sensitive storylines for some time with an illegal immigration storyline. Polish workers were taken on at the Underworld factory co-owned by Connor brothers Paul (Sean Gallagher) and Liam (Rob James-Collier). The storyline included the police raiding the factory after receiving a tip off from a disgruntled Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle), only to declare all the Polish workers legal. However, it was discovered that factory worker Joanne Jackson (Zaraah Abrahams) is an illegal immigrant due to her being a Liberian national. She was arrested and placed in a deportation centre. Joanne was since released without being deported and briefly returned to the series before leaving after receiving a pay-off from new majority owner Carla Connor (Alison King).

Baby Freddie & the Fire (2007)[edit]

In May 2007, there was a problem surrounding the storyline which saw the burning of Ashley and Claire Peacock's house and the death, and then the disappearance of baby Freddie. The storyline reflected the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal which was ongoing simultaneously. As a result of this, the storyline was bent slightly in order that no offence would be caused to the McCann family.

Tony Gordon's escape from prison and the gun siege in Underworld (2010)[edit]

Over the week of 31 May-4 June 2010, it was intended to show an episode of Coronation Street each night where Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) had escaped from prison and was intending to take revenge on those who he had believed wronged him, Carla Connor (Alison King), Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) and (by accident) Maria Connor (Samia Ghadie), hostage at gunpoint in Underworld. However, on 2 June 2010 in Cumbria, gunman Derrick Bird went on a killing spree killing 12 people and injuring many others before turning on himself. As a mark of respect to the victims, the remaining episodes were pulled from the rest of the week and were rescheduled for the following week in double bills with the scheduled episodes of that week. The storyline ended with Tony shooting dead his accomplice, former cellmate Robbie Sloan (James Fleet), before letting Hayley and Maria go and then setting fire to Underworld. Carla escaped but Tony perished in the blaze.

Hayley Cropper's Suicide (2013)[edit]

In July 2013, long-standing character Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) was diagnosed with stage-two pancreatic cancer, and was told she must undergo two operations and chemotherapy to try and eliminate the cancer. In September, when she had her major operation, the consultant revealed that the cancer was incurable and that she was dying, devastating Hayley and her husband, Roy (David Neilson). During a conversation with Roy, Hayley decided that she wanted to end her life on her terms, meaning that she wanted to commit suicide when her pain became unbearable. Roy could not come to terms with Hayley's decision, and eventually lied to her that he was fine about her killing herself. By January 2014, Hayley was taking extremely strong painkillers and and needing to travel in a wheelchair. On 20 January, Hayley said her goodbyes to her friends, and sat on her bed, with Roy by her side. She drank and lethal cocktail, which killed her within a few minutes. Roy and Hayley's friends Anna Windass (Debbie Rush) and Carla Connor (Alison King) rushed up to their flat, where they found Hayley's corpse on the bed, with Roy's arm around her.

The public started the believe that the storyline was a "right to die" storyline, but Hesmondhalgh later announced that it was not a "right to die" storyline, and merely a pancreatic cancer storyline. The episode in which Hayley killed herself with Roy by her side attracted 9.7 million viewers, the show's largest figure in almost a year. The storyline, Hesmondhalgh and Neilson have won numerous awards.

Other storylines[edit]

Collapse of the Viaduct (1967)[edit]

In 1967, one of Coronation Street's biggest storylines took place. This was when the viaduct collapsed. Many of the show's popular characters including Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) and Jack Walker (Arthur Leslie) were feared dead but survived. One person died in the ordeal. This was done once again in 2010 to celebrate the soap's 50th Anniversary.

Death of Valerie Barlow (1971)[edit]

Anne Reid joined the cast of Coronation Street in August 1961 on a temporary basis. She left the soap in November but her character had been popular, especially the storyline centred around her and Ken Barlow's (William Roache) romance. She returned in June 1962 and on 1 August she married Ken. Over the next eight years fans would watch their stories, including two separations, the birth of twins, and Valerie's affair with Ken's best friend. Ken and Valerie were a very early example of a television supercouple. But late in 1970, Anne Reid asked to be released from her contract. She had married one of the soap's producers and was pregnant.[citation needed] The show's main producer reluctantly agreed and Valerie was killed-off on 27 January 1971 in one of the show's most famous episodes. She died of a massive electric shock whilst plugging in her hairdryer with wet hair and hands. The story had wide media coverage and many angry viewers wrote to Granada. On 3 February 1971 more than 15 million viewers tuned in for Valerie's funeral.

The Rovers Return fire (1986)[edit]

The programme moved to modernise its sets in 1986. Its producers and writers chose to do this by having The Rovers Return Inn set ablaze on-screen, then re-built.

Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) was on the upper storey of the pub when the fire broke out. Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and Sally Seddon (Sally Dynevor), coming home from a late-night rock concert, happened to walk past at the time, noticed the fire, and alerted the neighbours. The fire brigade eventually rescued Bet when Kevin could not, and she later recovered from smoke inhalation.

Vera Duckworth (Liz Dawn) remarked sarcastically that she was "probably smokin' in bed again," when in reality, Jack Duckworth (Bill Tarmey) had attempted to repair a fuse and, in failing to do so, accidentally sparked a fire in the fusebox which spread to the rest of the establishment.

Following the fire's devastation, Bet decided to knock The Rovers' main bar area, the Select, and the Snug into one larger bar. It has stayed the same layout ever since, but its wallpaper and fittings were updated in 2008.

The serial killer: Richard Hillman (2002-03)[edit]

In 2002-03, Coronation Street featured storyline of Richard Hillman (Brian Capron), who entered as a relative of the late Alma Halliwell (Amanda Barrie). Initially the character was seen offering financial advice to residents and buying the house of Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), in an arrangement where she would have the right to live in it for her lifetime, but on her death, Hillman would inherit the house. He then married Gail Platt (Helen Worth). Over the months, questions were raised about his trustworthiness, with suggestions of some irregularities in his dealings with people elsewhere. He left a business partner, Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe) to die after falling over a balcony. Hillman then murdered his second wife, Patricia, (Annabelle Apsion) and buried her under concrete at a housing development he owned. In late 2002, Hillman subtly made his wealthy mother-in-law, Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls), question whether she was experiencing the onset of dementia, through such things as unlocking doors she had locked, hanging out washing that she could not remember hanging out, turning on lights she had switched off and taking a dress in to be dry-cleaned, which she could not remember taking. Finally, he tried to kill her in a house fire, made to look like the result of her dementia, with Hillman removing the battery from the smoke alarm. She was saved by her friend, undertaker Archie Shuttleworth (Roy Hudd) and taxi driver Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson).

In 2003, Hillman was in severe financial trouble, and failing in his attempt to get his hands on Audrey's considerable wealth, he planned to murder Emily and thus claim her house. While Emily was babysitting Joshua Peacock (Benjamin Beresford), he planned to kill her and frame his stepdaughter, Sarah-Louise's former boyfriend, Aidan Critchley, who was sleeping rough nearby. Hillman broke into the Peacock's house and struck Emily round the head with a crowbar, but unfortunately Maxine Peacock (Tracy Shaw) returned to check on her son, and Hillman brutally attacked her with the crowbar. Maxine died instantly, but Emily survived.

Following Maxine's murder, February 2003 saw a number of street residents, along with Audrey, suspect Hillman of Maxine's murder, with Audrey challenging him at Maxine's funeral. Audrey had realised he had made two slip ups with her; knowing there was no battery in a smoke alarm before the fire brigade had checked it, and leaving in the dress to be cleaned on a day when she had independent witnesses to confirm that she had been with them all that day. She managed to convince Archie of Hillman's evil doings (the undertaker had been suspicious of Richard when he was quick to identify a woman's body as that of Patricia, only to be mistaken afterwards). Emily's lodger Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) had also suspected that Richard was less-than honest in his financial dealings with his elderly clients. Meanwhile, Ken Barlow (William Roache), having seen the drunken state of Aidan on the night of the murder, doubted his ability to carry out the crime. However, Audrey, Archie, Norris and Ken were boycotted by other residents, especially Hillman's wife, Gail, who became estranged from her mother, Audrey, after she accused him of lighting the fire in her house. Maxine's family and Emily (who survived with no memory of the attack) all saw Hillman as a perfect husband, neighbour and friend.

Hillman himself was racked by guilt at his actions, all the more so when it turned out that someone else whose house he owned had died the previous week, meaning that his financial problems were already solved before he tried to murder Emily and murdered Maxine. Hillman's trusting wife, Gail, finally twigged and challenged him, leading to his full and frank admission, in the belief that she would stand by him and not reveal his actions. She however refused to protect him and Hillman disappeared, pursued by the police, who eventually found his second wife's body. He returned to kidnap his family and try to gas them in the family car, before being discovered, and driving off and crashing the car into a canal, where Hillman died but Gail, Sarah, David and Bethany survived. In the aftermath, Hillman's financial dealings saw his wife and family face the possible loss of their home, as did Emily, while the Duckworths lost their entire life savings.

Mad Maya (2004)[edit]

In 2004, Maya Sharma (Sasha Behar) was unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, Corner Shop owner Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin). He discovered that his all-time love Sunita Parekh (Shobna Gulati) had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Maya who had shown glimpses of her true self on a few previous occasions including dog-napping Tyrone Dobbs' (Alan Halsall) pet greyhound Monica and dumping it on the Red Rec, stealing an expensive vase on impulse from a designer shop, and driving high speed with Dev into the countryside in her characteristic red MG sports car, refusing to stop until he proposed to her, was hell-bent on revenge. She trashed the apartment he shared with her in Weatherfield Quays causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

She disappeared for a few weeks but returned, posing as Sunita entering into illegally arranged marriages to immigrants seeking residency in the UK. She then tipped off the police and had both Sunita and Dev arrested on their wedding day in front of most of the Street's shocked residents with Maya lurking in the background.

Maya then began a campaign of destruction against Dev's business empire. One of his employees working in his Eccles shop called Dev saying it was on fire. It soon became clear his shops were being targeted and Dev knew from that point on that Maya was behind the arson attacks. He soon realised that Sunita herself might be in danger and when he called home his worst fears were realised when Maya answered the phone saying she had Sunita hostage. When Dev returned to the apartment he discovered Maya and Sunita were nowhere to be seen and he drove straight to the remaining shop not yet targeted, the Coronation Street shop in Weatherfield. Maya tied up Sunita in the upstairs flat (No. 15A) and when Dev entered she hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher. She then tied and gagged them both before turning on the gas on the cooker in the flat, before moving downstairs and starting a fire in the shop itself. They were rescued by Ciaran McCarthy (Keith Duffy) and Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward) as the building sensationally exploded in a large ball of flame which led to the panic stricken Websters evacuating their house next door and all the residents of Coronation Street rushing outside to a scene of utter devastation. With her first attempt to kill her former fiancé and his lover thwarted, in desperation she tried to run down the couple in front of virtually all the Street residents but missed and crashed into the viaduct. While attempting a second try her MG was shunted by a refuse truck and forced into a small business on Viaduct Street leading to her being seriously injured.

Both Dev and Sunita survived the ordeal and Maya was admitted to hospital under police guard.

The murder of Charlie Stubbs (2007)[edit]

In January 2007, Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward) was killed by former lover Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford). The storyline had started when Tracy had claimed to neighbours that she was being domestically abused by Charlie, persuading Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth) to keep a diary of the "attacks" on Tracy, which she'd inflicted herself. The murder itself was planned when Tracy had found out that Charlie had been having an affair with fellow street resident, Maria Sutherland (Samia Ghadie). The murder, involved Tracy knocking him out with an ornament, and then carelessly placing a knife, to make it look like self-defence. Ken (William Roache), Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) and Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) at this point, rushed over to the house, to try to find out what was happening. Getting no answer at the door, Peter forces the door down, revealing a "shocked" Tracy on the phone to the police. The police arrived later, along with an ambulance, revealing Charlie still alive at this point. Tracy was at this moment disturbed by it, however, she is relieved when Charlie later expires in hospital.

After the murder, David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) claimed that he had seen the murder, and claimed it was indeed self-defence. It was revealed that he wanted to use Tracy for sex, which he never did do, as the outcome was guilty. The trial was aired from March until April 2007 in which ITV had filmed two different endings; the outcomes were that she was to be found guilty or not guilty. She was found guilty by the jury, even with David's testimony - and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of fifteen years.

Liam Connor's murder and Tony Gordon's relationship with Maria (2008)[edit]

In October 2008, after discovering Liam Connor's (Rob James-Collier) affair with his then fiancée, Carla Connor (Alison King) - Liam's ex-sister-in-law - Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) ordered his henchman, Jimmy Dockerson (Robert Beck) to run over Liam at his stag night. Tony held Liam in his arms as he died.

At Carla and Tony's wedding, a drunken Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) showed Liam's widow, Maria (Samia Ghadie) footage of Liam and Carla kissing on her daughter, Rosie's (Helen Flanagan), mobile phone. Maria then became convinced that Tony had killed Liam, even trying to run Tony over in her car.

In 2009, Carla became suspicious of her husband after Jed Stone (Kenneth Cope), who Tony had previously attacked, showed her marks on his neck from where Tony had strangled him. Tony finally confessed to Carla he murdered Liam; Carla made a dramatic exit.

Filled with remorse, Tony visited tearfully visited Liam's grave. Maria saw Tony and he gave her a lift home. The pair began a gradual friendship, with Tony moving in with Maria whilst she was pregnant.

In June 2009, Tony helped Maria deliver her baby, which she named Liam. When Maria's in-laws visited their grandson, Tony moved out, but the pair realised how much they could not be without each other and gave in to temptation, kissing passionately.

Since then, they had been a happy couple and became engaged on the date of Liam's death. Carla learned of their engagement from Leanne and threatened to expose Tony to the police if he didn't leave Maria. However, when she attacked Tony's henchman Jimmy and thought him to be dead, Tony turned the tables and told Carla to leave if she didn't want to end up in prison.

In November 2009, Tony suffered a heart attack. Roy Cropper (David Neilson) found him in the street and saved him. Roy refused to leave Tony's side at the hospital, and they talked all night. Tony then suffered another heart attack, and grabbed Roy, confessing, "I killed Liam Connor." Roy then began stalking Tony, acting as his "conscious", insisting he tell Maria everything. Furious, Tony threatened to kill Roy and his wife, Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh). Hayley and Roy then reported Tony to the police.

Tony was taken in for questioning, but released due to lack of evidence. Roy, believing Tony was in police custody, went to the canal to do some bat-watching. Tony confessed to Maria he'd been questioned by the police over Liam's murder. Scared, Maria left. When she returned, Tony was gone - he was at Roy's Rolls, hiding behind the counter with a knife in his hand. Maria arrived at the café and begged Hayley to tell her what was going on, to which Hayley admitted Tony killed Liam. As Maria sobbed, Tony was shown silently crying, digging the knife into his hand.

Once it was safe to leave, Tony went to the canal and taunted Roy, implying he had murdered Hayley by revealing the knife when Roy asked what he'd done to his wife. Roy then took Tony by surprise, attacking Tony. Tony then pushed Roy into the canal and watched him sink to the bottom from the bridge above. As Tony was about to leave, guilt sank in and he dived into the canal and rescued Roy. After giving him the kiss of life, Roy coughed up water. Tony asked Roy if he was all right, then left and handed himself in to the police.

Maria found out Tony was at the police station and demanded to see him. She then asked Tony why he did it, then asked if her or baby Liam was planned to be next. Tony insisted he'd never lay a finger on the baby, and said he regretted what he did to Liam but regretted what he'd done to her even more. Maria then told Tony baby Liam was nothing to do with him, and that if there was any justice in the world he'd be hanged. She said she'd stand and watch and cheer, then dance on his grave afterwards. The police officer then told Maria her time with Tony was up. As she left, Tony called to Maria that he loved her. Outside, Maria began to sob. Inside the cell, Tony began crying too.

The tram crash (2010)[edit]

In Summer 2010, to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary, it was reported that the street would be at the centre of a "major disaster". It was later announced by producer Phil Collinson that a tram would crash into the cobbles and the resulting incident will change everyone's lives forever.

The storyline aired across the entire birthday week, 6–10 December, with a special live episode broadcast on 9 December.

The storyline saw the deaths of Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold), killed by falling debris in the remains of The Joinery, Molly Dobbs (Vicky Binns), who died of internal injuries when waiting to be rescued from the Corner Shop rubble and Charlotte Hoyle (Becky Hindley), who was struck on the head by a hammer from John Stape (Graeme Hawley) in the minutes leading up to the tram crash and later declared brain dead. The fourth death was an unknown taxi driver, which caused outrage with fans.[27]

The drama is set on the night of Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and Peter Barlow's (Chris Gascoyne) hen and stag parties ahead of their wedding the next day. On that night, Nick Tilsley (Ben Price), who had been having an affair with Leanne, ushered Peter into his office of The Joinery bar, with the intention of revealing all. Molly decided to leave her husband Tyrone (Alan Halsall), however, when he refused to allow her to leave with baby Jack, was forced to reveal to him that he wasn't the boy's father but didn't name Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) as his actual biological father. As a result, a devastated Tyrone allowed her to leave with him and she headed to the corner shop to say her goodbyes. Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) discovered that her nephew Max Turner had gone missing resulting in her and her husband Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) frantically combed the Street searching for him.

But just before Nick can tell Peter his shocking secret, a sudden explosion rips through the building as a result of a gas leak, trapping the pair and Ashley Peacock. The resulting force of the explosion also severely damaged the above viaduct, resulting in a nearby tram derailing, despite the best efforts of the tram driver to bring it to a stop beforehand, and crashed into the Alahan's Corner Shop, injuring Dev (Jimmi Harkishin) and Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati) along with Molly and baby Jack. After a moment of suspense, one of the carriages tipped down and smashed into The Kabin, with Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) being crushed by a falling shelf case. The crash also set No. 13 Coronation Street, the Peacock's home, on fire, trapping Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth), her two children, Freddie (Niall Beresford) and Joshua (Benjamin Beresford), their friend Russ (Finton Flynn), and Simon Barlow (Alex Bain). A telegraph pole is also struck down in the carnage, knocking out the electricity across the street.

The initial blast briefly knocks several people out cold and with emergency services delayed due to a motorway traffic accident, the residents began the rescue efforts. Lloyd Mullaney (Craig Charles) manages to save Claire, her children and Russ from their burning house before Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) ventures inside to search for Simon. During the furore, Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine) is caught in the debris and goes into premature labour. Her husband, John, is warned that if ambulances don't come sooner and if Fiz isn't able to stop the contractions, both she and the baby will die.

After a lengthy delay, fire crews, police and ambulances finally arrive on the scene and relieve the residents of their work. The first casualties, Sunita and Fiz, are taken to hospital whilst Molly's baby Jack is pulled out from the rubble of the corner shop and Jason is able to get Simon out the Peacocks' house. Meanwhile, Becky and Steve frantically continue to search for Max but soon find themselves in trouble when Max's mother Kylie (Paula Lane) unexpectedly turns up. Rita remained trapped in the remains of The Kabin and was undiscovered as everyone thought she had gone out for the evening with a friend, not realising that her friend had cancelled resulting in Rita deciding to stay in for the night.

Inside the remains of The Joinery, Nick and Ashley continue to struggle in getting a seriously wounded Peter to safety. Rescue workers are able to locate them in time and quickly pull Peter out and into a waiting ambulance. Weakened by the fumes and dust, Ashley tells Nick to get out immediately, sacrificing his life for him. Nick reluctantly does so, just as the roof of the building caves in and collapses on top of Ashley, killing him instantly.

The drama continued throughout a special live episode, broadcast on December 9, the soap's date of birth 50 years ago. The 60-minute instalment saw Fiz give birth to a baby girl 3 months premature; John attempting to hide the body of Charlotte, whom he had supposedly killed in the second 6 December episode only to be caught by the police, but got away as he had already discarded the evidence however he was horrified to discover she was still alive; Claire attempting to cope with the devastating news of Ashley's death; Gary Windass (Mikey North) opening up over his refusal to help out as it reminded him about the trauma he suffered when on his army tour of duty in Afghanistan; Kylie admitting to Steve and Becky that she had removed Max and, after already spending the £20,000 they had given her so they could keep him, demanding another payment of £5,000 from them if they wanted him returned; Molly telling Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) the truth about baby Jack's father before succumbing to her injuries and Peter marrying Leanne before suffering a cardiac arrest as the episode ended.

As the tragic situation continued to unfold, Peter was rushed into emergency surgery which was successful but still remained critically ill. John made an attempt to switch off Charlotte's life support machinery and nearly got caught by her parents and John passed himself off as Colin Fishwick (David Crellin), who died during a heated argument with John and Charlotte back in July. John later got his wish when doctors declared Charlotte as brain dead.

Left stunned by the claims of Kevin cheating on her, Sally was left devastated when she forced Kevin to admit all. Upon learning that Kevin had planned to leave her before discovering she had cancer the previous Christmas she told him their marriage was over. Meanwhile Tyrone pledged to Kevin that he would continue to care for baby Jack despite not being his true father, but swore revenge on the man who Molly had an affair with and got her pregnant not realising it was Kevin himself. Meanwhile, after having been trapped inside The Kabin for several hours with no notice, Rita was finally found and taken to hospital. The night's activity ended with most of the residents sleeping inside Tthe Rovers Return as the police had cordoned off their houses.

ITV have published the entire week of episodes for DVD release on 21 February 2011.[28]

Who Killed Frank Foster? (2012)[edit]

After he was found not guilty of raping Carla Connor (Alison King), it was announced that Frank Foster's (Andrew Lancel) departure from the soap would be centred across a murder mystery, which was aired in March 2012.

Before his death, several people in Weatherfield had well-known reasons for wanting Frank dead with the investigation being focused on five main suspects.

Shortly after officially signing the contract to take full control of Underworld, Frank was battered to death by a whiskey bottle. The prime suspect was Carla Connor (Alison King), and she was soon arrested by police after a DNA test revealed traces of her blood on the bottle.

The majority of viewers believe that all 5 suspects are innocent and that there will be an upcoming twist, revealing that Anne Foster (Gwen Taylor) - Frank's mother - will turn out to be the killer. It was also leaked online that that was the upcoming plot twist.

The murder of Tina McIntyre (2014)[edit]

In April 2013, Michelle Keegan, who had played the feisty Tina McIntyre since 2008, decide to leave the soap. The show's bosses managed to persuade her to continue appearing in the show regularly until May 2014. In January 2014, it was announced that the character of Tina would be murdered.

Here are the four suspects who could have killed Tina:

  • Carla Connor - Tina had been sleeping with her husband Peter Barlow behind her back.
  • Peter Barlow - Tina had been threatening to tell Peter's wife Carla Connor about their affair for some time.
  • Tracy Barlow - Tina and Tracy had been arch-rivals for a while. When Tina found out that Tracy and her fiancé, Rob Donovan, where doing illegal dealings for their shop, it brought the feud to a different level.
  • Rob Donovan - Like his fiancée Tracy Barlow, Rob wanted Tina to keep quiet about their illegal dealings. He also didn't want Tina to tell his sister Carla Connor about her affair with her husband Peter Barlow, as it could have effects on her unborn child.

It was later announced that Tina would be pushed from a balcony to her death. Before the episode was aired on 27 May 2014, Coronation Street bosses announced that Tracy would definitely not be Tina's killer, leaving only Peter, Carla and Rob in the frame. By the end of the episode, it was shown that Rob was Tina's murderer, after pushing her from the balcony unintentionally following an argument. In the following episode, it was revealed that Tina survived the fall, but when she threatened to tell the police that Rob deliberately pushed her in an attempt to kill her, Rob picks up a metal pipe and beats her to death. Tina made her final appearance on 2 June 2014, after dying in hospital. A few weeks after Tina's death, it was announced that Marc Baylis, who plays Rob, would be leaving the soap, and will presumably be arrested for killing Tina.

Smaller storylines[edit]

  • On September 11, 1961, Ida Barlow was struck by a bus and killed.
  • In 1961, Elsie Tanner received a poison pen letter during her affair with a married man.
  • In 1967, Elsie Tanner wed former GI Steve Tanner (his surname was almost changed at the last minute; no one would have changed Elsie's, since she was such a popular character) in the Street's first lavish wedding shoot. Steve Tanner was played by Canadian actor Paul Maxwell.
  • In 1969, in time to usher in colour television transmissions, the show planned an outing to the Lake District, so that viewers could see the autumn foliage in all its glory. However, there was no colour film available for the episode, leading to the videotaped studio footage being in colour and the filmed exterior footage being in black and white. So the first full colour episode aired was to be after the core cast members had been involved in a car accident on the way back from the Lake, and were all in hospital.
  • In 1975, a warehouse fire killed Edna Gee.
  • In 1980, Renee Roberts (Madge Hindle) was killed off after public opinion polls showed the character (as well as her marriage to Alf Roberts, played by actor Bryan Mosley) to be very unpopular. She died when a lorry hit her car head-on while Alf was giving her driving lessons.
  • In 1984, Bernard Youens's character, Stan Ogden, died in hospital (in conjunction with Youens's real-life death). The episode featuring his funeral (filmed only months following Youens's funeral) ended with his grief-stricken widow, Hilda, crying over his glasses case.
  • In 1998, Ann Malone froze to death after being accidentally locked in a store freezer at Firmans Freezers. She was plotting a smear campaign against Curly Watts.
  • In 2000, a hostage siege occurred at Frescho's supermarket. Characters including Ken Barlow, Fred Elliot and Mike Baldwin were being held hostage by Dean Sykes, the brother of Mike's fiancee Linda. Policewoman Emma Watts fatally shot him as the hostages were rescued.
  • 2001 featured the rape of Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor), Les Battersby's teenage stepdaughter.
  • In 2001 Alma Sedgewick (Amanda Barrie), the ex-wife of Mike Baldwin, died from cervical cancer.
  • In 2001 Sarah Louise Platt (Tina O'Brien), daughter of Gail Platt, fell foul of an internet stalker whom she met through a chatroom.
  • 2000–2 featured the pregnancy of thirteen-year-old Sarah Louise Platt.
  • In 2003–4, the soap showed its first homosexual kiss when Todd Grimshaw (Bruno Langley) kissed Nick Tilsley (played by Adam Rickitt). When Todd could no longer deny his sexuality he fell into a relationship with Karl Foster, a co-worker, even though he was engaged to Sarah-Louise and she was expecting his child.
  • In 2005 Katy Harris (Lucy-Jo Hudson) beat her father, Tommy Harris, to death with a wrench, after he had instigated the collapse of her relationship with Martin Platt, who was at least 20 years older than her and then joked about it. Her grief-stricken but practical mother Angela Harris decided it was best if they denied all knowledge of the murder. When the police arrested Angela on suspicion of the murder of her husband, she believed Katy wouldn't survive in jail so she took the blame, plead guilty in court, and was sentenced to prison. Katy, who is diabetic, felt overwhelmed with the guilt of her parents' fate and committed suicide by drinking a bag of sugar mixed with cola and not taking her insulin. Although her suicide note exonerated Angela of the murder, she was still sentenced to prison for four years for perjury. As a result, Katy's brother Craig lost his mother, father and sister in just one month.
  • In 2005 Craig Harris and Rosie Webster had underage sex and were caught by Rosie's mother, Sally.
  • In 2006 Mike Baldwin died after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for many months. He first showed signs of having the disease after he arrived back from holiday with long-term partner Penny King. While he was suffering from the illness his son Danny Baldwin (Bradley Walsh) and his girlfriend Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) attempted to convince Mike to change his will, leaving Danny as the main beneficiary and his other two sons Mark and Adam out of the picture completely. Mike died in the arms of his nemesis Ken Barlow outside his beloved Underworld factory.
  • In 2007, Sarah-Louise Platt married Jason Grimshaw at the second attempt after their first wedding was called off. At the same time, Sarah-Louise's wayward brother, David, faked his own suicide by crashing his car into the canal after he was barred from attending the wedding by his own family.
  • In 2008, Vera Duckworth played by Elizabeth Dawn died at home, after fifty years of marriage to Jack Duckworth.
  • In 2009, on Christmas Day, Sally Webster reveals to husband Kevin that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. This results in Kevin ending his affair with neighbour Molly Dobbs.
  • In 2010, Sophie Webster and Sian Powers became the first lesbian couple after Sophie kissed Sian. Though Sian was initially disgusted she soon warmed to the idea and they started a secret relationship, which was unmasked at Roy and Hayley's wedding by Claire Peacock, who had caught them kissing on her sofa a few days before when they were babysitting.
  • In 2010, Roy and Hayley Got married.
  • In 2010, Jack Duckworth played by Bill Tarmey was diagnosed with cancer. He died at home where he saw a vision of Vera before he passed on.
  • In 2011, Sophie Webster falls from a church roof after getting drunk on cider following a massive argument with girlfriend Sian Powers that ended in the pair splitting up, on top of being constantly ignored by her family due their own personal problems. Miraculously, she survives the fall with nothing more than a broken arm and concussion.
  • In 2011, Graeme Proctor marries Xin Chiang in a scam wedding organised by Tina McIntyre in order to prevent Xin from being deported.
  • In 2011, John Stape's murderous crimes were exposed and he appeared to commit suicide by jumping off a hospital roof. Ironically, he managed to survive the fall and went on the run. It left his wife, Fiz to take the rap and she was put on trial. After being found guilty and left facing a possible life sentence, it was reported that John had reappeared. John had kidnapped his ex-lover Rosie Webster for a second time before his cover was blown by Kevin Webster. A resulting car chase left John seriously injured and he later passed away, but not before confessing all about his murders.
  • In 2011, Sophie Webster and Sian Powers plan to marry in a civil partnership. However, both Sophie's nerves and the revelation of her kiss with Amber Kaliari lead to the wedding being called off. It eventually results in Sian leaving Weatherfield for good.
  • In 2012, Becky McDonald ruins Steve McDonald and Tracey Barlow's wedding reception by exposing Tracey's lie in claiming she killed Tracey's unborn twins by pushing Tracey down the stairs when Tracey had actually miscarried beforehand. Straight afterwards, Becky leaves to start a new life in Barbados.
  • In 2012, long-serving characters Rita Sullivan and Dennis Tanner marry, but not before Rita is kidnapped as part of a drug smuggling plan.
  • In 2012, Tina McIntyre discovers that Tyrone Dobbs is being constantly abused by his fiancée Kirsty Soames.
  • In 2012, Sophie Webster is run over by car on a dual carriageway after saving her friend, Ryan Connor, from the same fate when he got high on cocaine and decided to play a game of chicken. She is left badly injured with the possibility of being paralysed.
  • In 2013 Sunita Alahan was killed and Stella Price got rushed to hospital with smoke inhalation when Sunita's ex lover and Stella's lover Karl Munro set fire to the Rovers Return in a plot to frame Jason Grimshaw.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Little, Daran. p.241-242.
  2. ^ Little. (2000) p.153.
  3. ^ a b c Little. (2000) p.28.
  4. ^ Tinker, Jack. p.31.
  5. ^ Little. (2000) p.6.
  6. ^ a b Tinker. p.31.
  7. ^ a b Little. (2000) p.93.
  8. ^ Little. (2000) p.96.
  9. ^ Little. (2000) p.114.
  10. ^ a b c Podmore. p.33.
  11. ^ a b Podmore. p.34.
  12. ^ Little. (2000) p.21.
  13. ^ Podmore. p.36.
  14. ^ Little. p.10.
  15. ^ a b c Podmore. p.78.
  16. ^ Podmore. p.77.
  17. ^ Little. p.153.
  18. ^ Podmore. p.76.
  19. ^ Little. p.121.
  20. ^ Podmore. p.135.
  21. ^ a b c d Podmore. p.136.
  22. ^ Little. p.190.
  23. ^ Little. (1995) p.84.
  24. ^ Little. (1995) p.85.
  25. ^ Little. p.51.
  26. ^ a b Little. p.93.
  27. ^ http://www.metro.co.uk/tv/850589-coronation-streets-four-funerals-and-a-wedding-tag-line-deemed-a-cop-out
  28. ^ http://www.play.com/DVD/DVD/4-/18438376/Coronation-Street-Tram-Crash/Product.html

Print References[edit]

  • Little, Daran. 40 Years of Coronation Street, Granada Media, 2000. (ISBN 0-233-99806-3)
  • Tinker, Jack. Coronation Street; A fully-illustrated record of television's most popular serial, Treasure Press, 1987. (ISBN 1-85051-229-9)
  • Podmore, Bill. (with Peter Reece). Coronation Street: The Inside Story London: Macdonald, 1990 (ISBN 0-356-17971-0)