Friday, 22 October 2010

50 Years Of Corrie In 50 Days – 1963

Day 3 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.

In September 1963 scandal hit Coronation Street. The contract of Eileen Mayers, who played dippy Sheila Birtles, was coming to an end and the producers decided to kill her off. Sacked from her job at the raincoat factory and crushed by her rejection by married petty crook Neil Crossley, who had taken her virginity, she found herself pregnant by him and unable to face the shame of having a child out of wedlock, she was set to commit suicide. The intention was for her to take an overdose of sleeping pills and then after vomiting them up, resort to gassing herself.

The story leaked to the press and Granada had to contend not only with shock-horror headlines in the tabloids and calls of protest from the public but the deputy coroner of Manchester objected. ‘A suicide would be a disgraceful thing to show. I fear that the screening of a suicide would remove the stigma from it, which would be very bad’, he is reported to have said. The producer, Margaret Morris, responded that Coronation Street was produced as a true-to-life drama but the ITA and Granada lost their nerve and the offending five minutes was removed from the broadcast.

The story was hastily rewritten to have Dennis Tanner smell the gas and save her life by forcing his way into her room above the corner shop. And instead of a bottleful of sleeping pills, she was seen to take a couple of aspirin and turn the gas on. Mayers herself was very disappointed that having worked herself up to such a harrowing and powerful story, the scene was wasted. She had been hounded at home by the tabloids: ‘The garden was full of press. They shouted through my letterbox, they climbed, they hammered on the windows … my little girl was upstairs crying.’

Dennis Tanner returned to the Street to manage the northern branch of the Lenny Phillips theatrical agency. He discovered window cleaner Walter Potts and launched his pop career as Brett Falcon. Timed to coincide with its release in the real world, his single, ‘Not Too Little, Not Too Much’ was played over the end credits which helped it reach no. 17 in the charts.

Also in 1963: Myra Dickenson marries Jerry Booth; Albert Tatlock is fined £10 after hitting a copper on a darts team outing to New Brighton; Len Fairclough proposes to Elsie Tanner but she says no; Frank Barlow opens DIY shop on Victoria Street.


Anonymous said...

These are great, Sunny Jim, thank you!

maggie muggins said...

These 50 Years of Corrie are great, Sunny Jim! I haven't watched from the beginning, so getting a quick overview of what happened over time is such a nice anniversary gift for us on the blog. Thanks for your work & yay Corrie!

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