The Road to Coronation Street
|The Road to Coronation Street|
|Written by||Daran Little|
|Directed by||Charles Sturridge|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||1|
|Running time||75 minutes|
|Production company(s)||ITV Studios|
|Original network||BBC Four, BBC HD|
|Picture format||1080i 16:9 (HDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||16 September 2010|
|Related shows||Coronation Street|
The Road to Coronation Street is a British drama first broadcast on BBC Four documenting the journey of Coronation Street, the UK's longest-running television soap opera, from conception to its first transmission in December 1960. Set mainly at Granada Studios, Manchester in 1960, the 75-minute-long programme follows the true story of Tony Warren, a struggling scriptwriter who creates a vision of a television programme depicting normal life in a Salford street of terraced houses.
The Road to Coronation Street was written by Daran Little, a long-time archivist on Coronation Street who became a scriptwriter. At the time, however, Little was a scriptwriter for Coronation Street's rival, EastEnders, broadcast on BBC One. Though Coronation Street is, and always has been, broadcast on ITV, a competing network, the idea of documenting the show on the anniversary of its half century running was picked up by its natural rival, the BBC. It has, however, been repeated several times on ITV3  and, on the occasion of Tony Warren's death, ITV.
Filming was taking place throughout July on location in Manchester, and were even filming in Granada Studios, where much of the episode is set. The drama was being filmed on the set next door to the real life Coronation Street set, who were also filming.
The role of Tony Warren, Coronation Street's creator and writer, was given to actor David Dawson. Coronation Street's producer, Canadian-born Harry Elton, was played by Christian McKay. Casting director Margaret Morris and her young assistant Josie Scott, who befriends Warren, were played by Jane Horrocks and Sophia Di Martino, respectively. Derek Bennett, the director, was portrayed by Shaun Dooley, while Sidney Bernstein was played by Steven Berkoff.
Jessie Wallace was given the role of Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street. Wallace, a Londoner most famous for her role as Kat Moon in EastEnders, "religiously" watched YouTube footage of early episodes to master the "old-fashioned Mancunian" accent as she described it. Wallace also briefly had sessions with a dialect coach before filming commenced. James Roache plays his father William Roache in the drama. The elder Roache has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street since its inception. As well as acting in The Road to Coronation Street, James was filming scenes for Coronation Street in a non-regular role as Ken Barlow's grandson at the same time. Celia Imrie played Doris Speed, who played the character of Annie Walker, and Lynda Baron played the role of Violet Carson, who played one of Coronation Street's most iconic characters, Ena Sharples. John Thomson and Michelle Holmes, who had previously been members of the Coronation Street cast, appeared as H.V. Kershaw and Harry Elton's secretary respectively.
The drama achieved a peak of 852,000 viewers on its first transmission, making it the second most popular programme in BBC Four's history, behind 2008's The Curse of Steptoe at 1.41m viewers. Sam Wollaston, a critic for The Guardian, gave a positive review, stating "The Road to Coronation Street is fond, and warm, and charming", and stated there were "fine performances" from the entire cast, in particular from David Dawson and Steven Berkoff. Phil Hogan for The Observer also commented on the "superb" quality of acting, and also praised Jessie Wallace personally, saying: "Watching EastEnders star Jessie Wallace storm through her audition as blowsy Street firebrand Elsie Tanner – tearing into her delinquent son Dennis for nicking two bob out of her purse – made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end." Grace Dent of The Guardian echoed Hogan's comments, saying "Obviously, the star of this show is the sublime Jessie Wallace playing 60s megastar Pat Phoenix, who played Corrie's Elsie Tanner." Jane Simon of the Daily Mirror stated the programme was "a triumph on every level". The Road to Coronation Street was awarded Best Single Drama at the 2011 British Academy Television Awards. Additionally, Jessie Wallace and Lynda Baron were both nominated in the Best Supporting Actress Category for their performances as Pat Phoenix and Violet Carson, respectively, however, Lauren Socha won the award for her role in the E4 series Misfits.
- Anne Aris as Nita Valerie
- Lynda Baron as Violet Carson
- Steven Berkoff as Sidney Bernstein
- David Dawson as Tony Warren
- Sophia Di Martino as Josie Scott
- Shaun Dooley as Derek Bennett
- Enid Dunn as Agnes
- Henry Goodman as Cecil Bernstein
- Michelle Holmes as Brenda
- Jane Horrocks as Margaret Morris
- Celia Imrie as Doris Speed
- Christian McKay as Harry Elton
- Tara Moran as Edna Walker
- Phoebe Nicholls as Mrs Simpson
- James Roache as William Roache
- John Thomson as Harry Kershaw
- Jessie Wallace as Pat Phoenix
- David Williams as Commissionaire
- Jane Simon (16 September 2010). "The Road to Coronation Street – BBC4, 9pm". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Laura Collins (28 August 2010). "In 1960, a gritty new ITV drama called Coronation Street first aired: 7,412 episodes later its origins have been recreated – on the BBC". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- "The Road to Coronation Street". BBC. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- "Jessie Wallace watched YouTube footage 'religiously' to get her Northern accent right for Coronation Street drama". Daily Mail. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Liz Thomas (9 July 2010). "William Roache's son plays young Ken Barlow in new BBC drama about how Corrie started". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Sam Wollaston (17 September 2010). "TV review: The Road to Coronation Street". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Phil Hogan (19 September 2010). "Rewind TV: The Special Relationship; The Road to Coronation Street; First Light; Wellington Bomber". The Observer. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Grace Dent (11 September 2010). "Grace Dent's Screen burn: The Road To Coronation Street". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Sarah Bull & Georgina Littlejohn (22 May 2011). "The Only Way Is Essex beats Downton Abbey and Sherlock to take home the YouTube Audience prize at the BAFTA Television Awards". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- "Three Bafta nominations for The Road to Coronation Street". Manchester Evening News. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.