It’s the soap opera we all know and love, and it turns 60 years old this week. Coronation Street’s cast share why they think the show has endured for so long.
It would take over 175 days to binge watch the 10,101 episodes of Coronation Street made since 1960. We can all agree that’s half a year well spent, because even if you’ve never watched an episode of Coronation Street before, you’ll somehow know what it is. You might recognise the iconic theme song, or some of the show’s most well-known characters. You may even feel like Coronation Street’s been on television forever, but that’s because it has.
This week Coronation Street turns 60, which means it’s been running as long as New Zealand has had television. Yep, it’s really old.
Coronation Street debuted in the UK in December 1960, a working-class drama about ordinary people living on the same street in the fictional Manchester suburb of Weatherfield. Since those humble beginnings, Coro has evolved into a soap opera powerhouse filled with murders and affairs, romance and betrayal, knicker factory disasters and kebab shop shenanigans. It strikes the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy, and links generations of viewers together in ways that no other TV show can.
New Zealanders have always had a soft spot for Coro, with fans outraged whenever TVNZ messes with the show’s timeslot. It’s a consistently high rating series, supported by the 2018 move to jump forward 18 months to catch up with UK episodes. Our loyalty is repaid with the occasional mention, like when David rang the New Zealand Embassy to enquire about emigrating and was stuck on hold listening to “whatserchops, Lorde”.
With over 48 births, 93 deaths, 98 marriages and 1 mention of Whatserchops, there’s not much that hasn’t happened on the cobbles in the past 60 years. Like a metaphorical barmaid serving up a pint of Newton and Ridley’s best, we asked some of Coronation Street’s current cast to share their thoughts on the milestone, and why they think the soap has endured.
William Roche (Ken Barlow)
“It’s about small people in a back street facing the adversity of life and everyone can identify with that. And of course it has to be well-written, well-directed and well-acted. 60 years has shown that we can do something right and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go on forever.”
Ken Barlow appeared in the first episode of Coro, and has become more iconic than Betty’s hotpot. Cambridge-educated Ken loved to impress everyone with big words and empty promises, and despite being boring, was the local studmuffin. He was married four times to three women, although his first wife was tragically electrocuted to death and favourite wife Deirdre owned a set of wall-mounted kitchen scales that looked like a cock and balls. I miss Deirdre.
Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow)
“It’s very strange for me that 20 years seem to have gone so quickly. I came in on the 40th anniversary, into a live episode, and I’m still here 20 years later. It just shows that you never know where you’re going to end up in life or what’s gonna happen.”
Time flies when you’re lovable rogue Peter Barlow, a sea-faring alcoholic bigamist who was once framed for murder and later shot with a paint gun.
Shelley King (Yasmeen Nazir)
“Coronation Street has been in my life ever since I came to England aged 10. It was iconic in the way that it exposed you to reality and it was what to TV what the kitchen sink drama was to theatre. It opened doors to reality and to the North. That was extraordinary and even as a kid I was attracted to it because it was so real.”
Yasmeen arrived in 2014 as part of Coronation Street’s first Muslim family. She’s at the centre of a coercive control storyline that will peak during the 60th anniversary, when she goes on trial for the attempted murder of her husband Geoff. Geoff is a manipulative bully who tricked Yasmeen into eating her pet chicken Charlotte Bronte. He is, as they say on the cobbles, a right wrong ‘un.
Rob Mallard (Daniel Osbourne)
“I think it’s the familiarity of it. My bedtime used to be the Coronation Street theme tune. When the credits rolled at the end and the music played that’s when I had to go to bed. Viewers live in our world at that time and it’s an attractive world. Obviously disastrous things happen to people but from the safety of your chair you can live in this world and go through it all without actually having to deal with the consequences of it.”
Long suffering Daniel has an impressive beard, but is mostly remembered for pushing his father Ken Barlow down the stairs. Also, Daniel’s mother Denise abandoned him for a lover called “Brian Dunkley”. Dunkley! That was never going to end well.
Sally Dynevor (Sally Webster)
“I’m so proud of Coronation Street. It’s such an incredible programme to be a part of. It’s amazing how many people’s lives it has touched. 60 years of fantastic stories has to be a testament to our brilliant writers and although I only had a tiny part in the coercive control storyline I think it’s one of the best I’ve been involved in.”
Legend, thy name is Sally. Our favourite social climber arrived in 1986 as Kevin Webster’s girlfriend, and went from counting ducks on Hilda Ogden’s wall to becoming Mayor of Weatherfield. Her finest moment, however, was when she bought a new hot tub for her garden, closely followed by the time she had a scrap with Anna Windlass over a bottle of tomato sauce. All class, our Sal.
Sally Carmen (Abi Franklin)
“I got to ride a digger! I’m beside myself.”
Bless you, Coronation Street, for being the digger of our soapy hearts for 60 glorious years.