5 Best Things About Coronation Street

Here at The Knowledge we watch a fair bit of TV, as you can imagine. One of our team has been a diehard Coronation Street fan for decades, and here presents the case for it to be handed our very own Most Fabulous Soap Award.

Originally created by Tony Warren and first broadcast on Granada Television in 1960, the serial drama and national treasure has become the longest running soap to date.

Its early days depicted the day-to-day minutiae of working-class life in a northern town, and has since become more sensationalised, with explosive storylines involving trams falling off viaducts, serial murderers running amok on the cobbles and a plethora of wrongful imprisonments.

This is probably due in part to the pressure from other competitors in the soap stable, as well as the intense, five episode-a-week schedule – an itinerary to challenge the finest storyliners and writers.

coronation street

Here are our 5 Best Things About Corrie, and reasons why they make the soap so good.

1) The writing. Since day one, the scripts for Coronation Street have been sharp and well-observed, with humour and pathos beautifully crafted in equal measure. Some of the more famous lines such as Hilda Ogden’s “woman, Stanley, woman” (when her husband asked what her lipstick tasted of) have gone down as classics of TV writing.

Creator Tony Warren’s shoes have since been valiantly filled by seasoned writers such as Jonathan Harvey, award-winning writer of plays such as Beautiful Thing. It is well documented that Corrie writers have always drawn very strong parts for women, with Sylvia currently and ably filling the void left by the acid-tongued Blanche.

2) The characterisation. One of the most loveable aspects of the soap is the realistically varied range of characters. The old and young mix together in social venues such as the Rovers and the Bistro, but also share exchanges in less obvious venues such as The Kabin newsagents. In fact, The Kabin’s Rita Tanner frequently takes in waifs and strays, with a seemingly overwhelming desire to nurture young people. Her current emotional investment lies with Tina, who is now the centre of a dramatic surrogacy storyline.

Another realistic aspect of the characters is the way the mostly have their own, very distinctive voice. For example, Dev’s vocabulary and drawling delivery often resembles David Essex, while Roy Cropper’s slightly obsessive nature produces some wonderful sentence structure that could only be his. TV critic Victor Lewis-Smith once said that if you picked up a Corrie script with the character’s name blotted out, it would be instantly apparent who was talking…

3) The continuity and the outside world. Corrie recognises that when the status quo changes, it is realistic that characters would comment. There were few more noticeable tumultuous events than when Deirdre finally changed her enormous spectacles for a slightly more contemporary style – a change which was commented on by the residents.

4) The double acts. The street has seen many, many, unlikely friendships and pairings over the years, some lasting for decades. For example, Steve McDonald, a character who has been in the soap since he was a young boy and who is now a somewhat feckless businessman, has a very touching and long-standing friendship with Eileen, a middle-aged mother of two who runs his taxi switchboard.

Other notable double acts include, of course, the local sage Ken Barlow and his on-off wife Deirdre; the interdependent Roy and Hayley Cropper, and the tenderly portrayed Jack and Vera Duckworth – a couple whose volatile relationship would often belie the deep love they had for each other.

5) The pace. When Corrie is in the midst of a high-octane, ratings-pulling storyline, it always takes care to offset the drama with a few scenes of mundanity: conversations about the paper not being delivered, who’s going to walk the dog, or whether a best shirt has been ironed. The writers are also generally nicely measured when they introduce new characters – they are brought in over a period of time, with a gentle build-up to any main storyline they may be starring in.

How do you rate Coronation Street? Would you put it higher than EastEnders or Emmerdale? Let us know via our Facebook page.