Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Sunday 29 March 2020

Corrie Connections - Part One

Guest blog post from Mark Llewllin
Fancy writing a guest blog post for us? 

Mark Llewellin is a friend of us all here on the Coronation Street Blog. He's a man who knows a thing or two about life behind the scenes at our favourite soap. You can find out more about him here.

Mark has very kindly offered to share some of those memories with us here on the Blog. We'll be running a blog post from Mark each day with some of Mark's memories.

And so, here we go with the first of many wonderful blogs from Mark!

Corrie Connections - Part One

Just a few short miles from Manchester city centre is Oldham – a borough which was built on cotton – in fact, at its height there was a cotton mill for every day of the year.  The borough, and its main town also confusingly called Oldham, has changed hugely since the decline of the mills in the 1950s and ‘60s – but sitting at its heart is a theatrical institution which has weathered the changing fortunes. 

In the centre of the town, on Fairbottom Street, sits the Coliseum Theatre.  Built in the 1880s originally as a circus the Coliseum has been used as a lecture theatre, cinema and variety theatre but in 1939 it was made the home of a repertory theatre.  The resident company performed one play at night for a week whilst rehearsing the following week’s play during the day. The number of familiar names who have performed at the Coliseum down the years is amazing – from Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) to Oldham’s own Eric Sykes, Dora Bryan and Bernard Cribbins, to Dame Thora Hird and Ralph Fiennes.  

It was here, to the Coliseum, that Granada’s first casting department turned when they were in need of actors with the skills to learn scripts for continuing dramas (or ‘soap operas’ as many call them).  William Roache (Ken), Barbara Knox (Rita), Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre), Julie Goodyear (Bet), Roy Barraclough (Alec), Peter Dudley (Bert Tilsley) – and many more appeared on the Coliseum stage before joining Coronation Street.  Then there’s Jean Alexander (Hilda) who was the Coliseum’s wardrobe mistress until she saw a rat in a pile of costumes and that convinced her to become an actress instead! 

When I joined the staff in 1996 I didn’t immediately appreciate the Corrie connections but it was ever-present.  My boss was Kenneth Alan Taylor, who played Corrie’s brewery owner Cecil Newton (his real wife is actress Judith Barker who played Ken Barlow’s second wife Janet) and our guest directors during my time included Alan Rothwell (David Barlow) and Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole).  In the late 90s I wrote a book on the theatre’s history and during the research I realised just how many actors were discovered at the ‘rep’ (as it’s known locally).

The success of the book led to a phone call which would really cement the Corrie link for me ….

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!
Glenda Young
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor
Fancy writing a guest blog post for us? All details here!  

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

1 comment:

Emma Hynes said...

Oh now this is a treat! I'll be looking forward to these each day, Mark.


You might also like...

Coronation Street Books for Fans