Wednesday, 20 October 2010

50 Years Of Corrie In 50 Days - 1961

Day 1 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.

Elsie Tanner was probably the most gossiped about woman on Coronation Street. 1961 saw her first screen kiss, in a telephone box with Bill Gregory who was to whisk her away from the cobbles to Portugal 23 years later. In between she attracted the attention of an endless supply of men and fell in love and had her heart broken countless times. She married 2 of these, Steve Tanner and Alan Howard, and was proposed to many times by Len Fairclough, who she regarded more as a best friend than a lover and refused to marry him for fear of losing his friendship. But he was always there to pick up the pieces after another disastrous affair.

Having been through the mill herself Elsie was more than happy to keep a motherly eye on young women passing through Weatherfield and give them the benefit of her years of experience. They never listened of course but she’d be there to provide tea and sympathy and a shoulder to cry on when the inevitable happened.

Behind the scenes, 1961 saw a crisis that nearly saw the end of the Street before it really got started. A strike was called by the actors’ union, Equity, for a new pay deal to reflect the success of commercial television. Fortunately 14 of the 25 cast members had signed contracts before the strike started and so the programme continued to run twice a week throughout the strike. However Granada were unable to employ anybody new or any extras so places like the Rovers suddenly seemed deserted.

As the strike continued into 1962, contracts that had expired couldn’t be renewed and at one point it got to the stage where there was nobody to serve behind the bar at the Rovers and a props man had to slide a pint into view. By the time the strike ended after nearly 5 months, the writers were having a hard time trying to find stories for the remaining 6 or 7 cast members. Bizarre stories were dreamt up that included the appearance of a chimpanzee and some performing sealions as they didn’t need Equity cards.

Also in 1961: Paul Cheveski is born; The Cheveski’s emigrate to Canada; Ida Barlow is run over by a bus; Joan Walker marries Gordon Davies; Concepta Riley marries Harry Hewitt; Violet Carson switches on Blackpool Illuminations with a Corrie theme; and Coronation Street is fully networked.

6 comments:

Flaming Nora said...

I'm loving these year by year, day by day!

Tvor said...

I knew about the strike, that was why Alf Roberts was in the show near the start and then never appeared again for a few years. He was one of those affected. I didn't realize it went on that long and affected so many!

David the Wavid said...

Actually there were never fewer than 13 actors in the cast during the strike. Philip Lowrie's contract ran out in March (Dennis's last appearance that year was in the sealions episode mentioned above) and the strike ended on 3rd April. Characters seen throughout the strike months were: Annie, Jack, Ena, Minnie, Martha, Len, Ken, Frank, Florrie, Harry, Concepta, Elsie and Albert.

Adam said...

This is great! Does anyone have anymore information on Philip Lowrie? I assume he's still around?

Coronation Street Corner said...

Philip Lowrie's profile:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Lowrie

Martin Rosen said...

Was it another strike (technicians?) that actually put Corrie off the air for some time? When it resumed 'Len 'and 'Elsie' (?) had to give viewers a short resume (reminder) of what had happened previously.

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