That’s 26.65 million people all seated around their television watching that final scene together. That shows the power of television back in the 1980s.
Those ratings are a thing of the past nowadays given the amount of choice that we now have, but still incredible to think of viewers in that scale.
Recently I attended a Coronation Street event to celebrate 60 years of Granada which was held at HOME in Manchester. I love Coronation Street and all that it encompasses.
In attendance were Sally Dyvenor (Sally Metcalfe but she’ll always be Sally Webster to me), Connor McIntyre (Pat Phelan, arguably the best soap villain since Richard Hillman and Jez Quigly), writers Debbie Oates and John Stevenson, Exec Producer Kieron Roberts and voice of Granada Charles Foster.
What followed was a truly, indulgent Corrie fest featuring TV clips from the past, voiced by the people who create the show.
I wasn’t prepared for how emotional I became watching some of those clips as they transported back to the era in my life when those characters played a central function to me. I watched Annie Walker and Bet Lynch heading up the Rovers through my young eyes, then into my late teens as Bet Lynch became Bet Gilroy and her side-kick was Alec ‘Tiger’ Gilroy.
Then onto all grown-up and responsible me as the audience were treated to a preview of Nick Tilsley and Peter Barlow fighting on the street in the 2016 Christmas Day special. It resembled the scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary when Hugh Grant and Colin Firth collided in fisticuffs in a middle-class British bust up, but instead of snow there were cobbles and gnomes.
For me, watching Hilda and Stan frantically searching a land-fill site for abandoned underwear with the hilarious Eddie Yeates was a delight for a die-hard Corrie fan such as myself. I sat in silence as I lapped up this nostalgic evening and realising how much this television soap has become such a big part of my life.
The first times that I was affected emotionally through television and characters were through Starsky and Hutch and Coronation Street.
I can recall feeling desperately anxious that Hutch was going to die from the plague in an old two-part episode in the 70s which I think was titled ‘Plague’. It caused no end of stress for my sister and I who loved the character of Hutch, so we were all behind Starsky as he began his race against time to save his partner. We were there every second of the way with him as he bravely fought the ‘baddies’ to find a cure. The relief those two little girls felt when Hutch finally awoke from his coma was huge.
Secondly, I can vividly recall watching the Ken, Deirdre and Mike love triangle unfold and feeling such anger towards Deirdre for cheating on Ken with Mike Baldwin. How dare she do that to Ken! So when Mike turned up on her doorstep I was right behind Ken Barlow and secretly praying that Deirdre would come to her senses and quickly.
And so at six years old began my love of television and characters who invoke emotion in me that continue to this day.
Coronation Street and their larger than life characters have been with me throughout school, college, becoming a young parent, through loneliness, depression, career building and now into my forties. It is a comforting friend who is always there no matter where I am in my own journey.
I’ve fallen in and out of love with the characters and can relate to it’s stories, humour, northern-ness and now I work across the water from where it is made. I often see Nick Tilsley going for his run in the morning as I walk to work, have ordered a pint next to Tyrone and queued up for the toilet behind Carla.
I thank Granada for delighting me with this trip down memory lane, a remarkable evening celebrating the past and the future of the street. I think my love for Weatherfield will continue past retirement and into my twilight years.
It might never reach 26.65 million viewers again, but it definitely has its die-hard fans who’ll stick with it through their own milestones in life.