Monday, 25 February 2013

Man who put Coronation Street on TV dies aged 95

Sir Denis Forman, the former Granada TV chairman who was responsible for putting Coronation Street on TV in 1960, has died aged 95.

The Guardian carries his obituary detailing a remarkable 50-year career.  Sir Denis, who died on Sunday night in a nursing home in London, was also director of the British Film Institute and deputy chairman of the Royal Opera House but it was his work in television of which he was most proud.

One of the founding executives of Granada TV in the mid 1950s, Forman went on to become is joint managing director and chairman between 1974 and 1987.

He was responsible for a new generation of programmes that helped to redefine British TV, including Coronation Street.  In an interview with The Guardian he once said this about the show:

"I recognised its merit and I supported the move to get it on air, but I was not 100% behind it. I was nervous. Everyone was. Look at those accents. Anyone in broadcasting reading one of those scripts would say: 'It's impossible.'"

Granada made it possible, though initially only as a 13-part series. The Daily Mirror's review of the first episode was scathing. "The programme is doomed from the outset," it intoned, "with its gloomy tune and grim scene of a row of terraced houses and smoking chimneys." But it was a ratings triumph, became a twice-weekly fixture, and within six months was the most-watched programme on British TV.

And here at the Coronation Street Blog we've just checked through Sean Egan's book - 50 Years of Coronation Street, the Unofficial Story. It says Sir Forman gave Tony Warren his first exclusive writing contract at Granada TV.  And as we all know, Tony ended up penning the first episodes of Coronation Street, of which Sir Forman says this:

"If we'd been in London, I don't think we would have made Coronation Street.  I don't think anyone in London would have made Coronation Street".

And his verdict on Tony Warren's first script for Florizel Street, as Corrie was originally known was this: "Good characters, good dialogue."

At the end of the day, I think that's all we really need. 


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4 comments:

Humpty Dumpty said...

I'll show my ignorance and admit I've never heard of Sir Denis Forman, but agree 100% with that last statement about 'good characters and good dialogue'. That's really why I've gone off Gloria. Fab actress, great character but where's the witty dialogue she had on her first appearance? The vitriol she spews out now is not clever or funny. No-one will replace Blanche but the writers would do well to remember how dialogue is supposed to work.

Mark said...

Sad to hear that - one of the old breed of Tv executives. his book is worth a read too.
Would also like to mark the passing of former Corrie locations manager Anne Wilkie-Millar, a lovely lady who gave her all to the show. She was also mum to Scamper the dog and Mavis's budgies!

Anonymous said...

No, Coronation Street would not have been made if Granada was in London. It wouldn't have been made today either - too much of a risk and too few men like Sir Denis in TV.

Mary Prankster said...

Where does the original executive producer, Canadian Harry Elton, who championed Tony Warren, and put the 1st episodes on air, fit in this story?

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