Gritty sagas by Corrie blog editor Glenda Young, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Celebrations on t'cobbles

Hurrah! It's time to raise a glass to ten thousand glorious episodes of our favourite continuing drama. It's by way the daddy (or hair-netted granny) of the UK soaps. Emmerdale has so far notched up 8,715 followed by EastEnders on 5,799. Defunct soaps Brookside and Crossroads bowed out at 2,915 and 1,700 episodes respectively. Of course, nothing matches the BBC Radio 4 soap, The Archers which has over 19,100 episodes to its name. Way to go Corrie.

A time for celebration then and on Friday viewers will be treated to a good old-fashioned charabanc trip to Blackpool. Lives, we are told, will change forever. At least this milestone isn't likely to feature Eileen being shot dead by police marksmen, the coach plummeting from the top of Blackpool Tower for no apparent reason or, please God, Rita delivering a performance of 'To All the Men I've Loved Before'.

Celebrating a big birthday seems to have been a bit hit and miss for Corrie down the years. Bizarrely, the records would appear to show that episode 1000 doesn't even exist. Apparently there was some hoo-hah about 'production codes' (are you still with me? Good) which meant the the episode sequence jumped from 999 to 1001. However, the episode broadcast on 19 August 1970 is cited as the 'celebration' instalment and Granada really went for it. Bet Lynch, Sandra Butler and Lucille Hewitt had a night out in Manchester. Be still my beating heart. One can only guess at the skirt length and eye shadow coverage on offer. There was also some laugh-a-minute storyline about Alan Howard owing money left, right and centre despite Elsie swanning around like a backstreet Avon lady. The episode had a vintage Corrie cast though with Ena, Minnie, the Ogdens, Maggie Clegg, Annie, Betty, Ken and Val all appearing. A notable guest was June Brown aka Dot Cotton. Ooh I say . . .

Episode 2000 occurred on 2 June 1980 and I recall TV Times doing a big feature which included Violet Carson on the cover, even though she was no longer filming the show. The big news was that Gail announced her pregnancy to Our Brian and so the first of 'them babbies' was on the way. Sadly it was Nick who gravitated from sparky child to Easter Island statue over four decades. Arnold Swain, pet shop owner and bigamist (although a lot less comedic than Tim Metcalfe) was sniffing around the fragrant Emily. It wouldn't end well but at least we'd get to enjoy Emily's weary countenance yet again. As for the rest of the cast? More vintage stuff courtesy of Bert and Ivy, Annie, Betty, Ida 'wig' Clough, Renee Roberts (unavailable for balm cake orders after July), Albert, Mavis, Ken and Deirdre.

Corrie's episode tally hits the 3000 mark on 4 December 1989. Many of that 1980 cast have now gone but there's enough of the old guard around to give it flavour. Indeed, the main focus of events is Rita who is in her Bradley phase and has had a breakdown. Bet, dressed with all the flair of a transvestite flamenco dancer, tracks Rio Rita down to Blackpool (again) where she's singing in a hotel. Alf-eh and Audr-eh are preparing to vacate number 11 for the incoming McDonalds (skinny jeans, 'trick or treat' perm, Ulster fry . . .) and La Roberts is trying to ditch all of her furniture. Adding to the celebrations are Don or DON as Ivy used to bellow, Jenny flamin' Bradley, Alec, Deirdre, Emily, the Websters and lovely Rovers barmaid Tina Fowler.

With more episodes hitting the screen, episode 4000 occurs just seven years later on 15 April 1996. It wasn't a golden period for the soap and a number of the cast are facing their final hurrah including Derek & Mavis, DON, Maureen Holdsworth and Percy Sugden. Storywise, DON has become Kevin's boss at the garage, Maureen has a rant at Maud and Ashley goes on a date with Daniel Osbourne's slightly odd nanny, Kelly. The cast still has the likes of Mike, Deirdre (now the Widow Rachid), Rita, Alec and Audrey. Fred Elliott is booming at us by this point too and Tracy Brabin MP is a regular.

Episode 5000 falls on 11 March 2001 and the cast has changed considerably. We've still got the likes of Ken, Deirdre, Blanche, Fred, Ashley and the Platts, the latter of which has the current incarnations of Sarah and David. We get to see Mike and Ken battling it out for custody of Adam (version one) and Emma Watts being terrorised by Linda Baldwin's brother. Linda Baldwin - all attitude and roll-ups. She wouldn't be troubling the cobbles for much longer though.

It's only another four years until episode 6000 hits the screens on 11 April 2005. A pivotal one too. Ray Langton has just died in the Rovers following Ken and Deirdre's wedding. Other than that though, it's fairly light on cast members. Other than the Barlows and Mike, it's down to the likes of Sunita Alahan, Charlie Stubbs and the grim Katy Harris to carry the load. We're also into the unsavoury tale of Danny Baldwin and Leanne Battersby. Flirting at this stage will eventually lead to some horrible plot to topple a clearly sick Mike. Happy days aren't here again . . .

Any hope that life would have cheered up by episode 7000 (28 January 2009, fact fans) was cruelly dashed. It's something of a curate's egg though. There are lovely bits melding the old (Blanche) will the relatively new (Leanne) as they work together at the bookies. Audrey, Rita, Ken and Emily all feature. Maria seems to be up for the attempted murder of comedy villain Tony Gordon, Jed Stone is in evidence and Mary has just won her motor home. There's also the appearance of one of Corrie's forgotten characters - Ted Page. Ted was Gail's dad and a good friend of Ken. Then he disappeared and we can only surmise that he languishes in the Corrie Cupboard to this day.

Episode 8000, which went to air on 19 November 2012, seemed to be something of a non-event. There was little publicity and few of the old guard appeared. Indeed, Gail is the 'senior' character on duty, followed by Steve McDonald. Plot wise, the abuse story featuring Tyrone and Kirsty Soames is underway and it made for difficult viewing. Eva Price is much in evidence but it's prior to her 'nice' makeover and at this point, she's anything but. In addition to horrible Eva and horrible Kirsty, there's also horrible Kylie (again, at this point she hasn't been reformed). There's also Michelle. Others present for episode 8K include Lewis Archer, Rob Donovan and the unbelievably dull cook, Mandy Kamara.

Our last big cause to crack open the Freshco own-brand prosecco was for episode 9000 which we settled down to on 28 September 2016. It's an odd one too, with no real high point and a dearth of senior cast members, with Kevin flying the flag for the 'oldies'. The story seems to focus on the impending death of Maria's dog, Ozzie. Dev's partner, Erica, is present and trying to exert authority over his kids. Erica was such a waste of a character. No wonder Claire King hot-footed it back to the dales! By 2016 we are also firmly in Pat Phelan territory so there's angst from Todd Grimshaw and the usual hapless sight of Eileen of the Miseries. All of the remaining Nazirs are present for this episode as well as long-forgotten characters like Caz Hammond. Remember her? She was Kate Connor's . . . err, ok, remember Kate? Bored us all rigid in a collapsed factory?

Celebrations take many forms and as we've just discovered, sometimes not at all. Whatever awaits the folk of Coronation Street in Blackpool, let's hope for drama, a splash of comedy and a dash of intrigue. It's a recipe as successful as Betty's Hotpot.

By David Bridgman, twitter: @bridglondon

All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Anonymous said...

Why mention the Archers? It takes away from Corrie's accomplishment, and there is no comparison, a radio show vs a television show.

Louby said...

Great post, thanks! I hope this 10000th episode lives up to the hype. It certainly looks promising.


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