Dec 092016
 

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On this date in 1960, Coronation Street, a British soap opera created by Granada Television, was first aired on ITV. On 17 September 2010, Coronation Street entered Guinness World Records as the world’s longest-running television soap opera after the US soap opera As the World Turns concluded. William Roache was also listed as the world’s longest-running soap actor, having played in the show since the first episode. The show centers on Coronation Street in Weatherfield, a fictional town based on Salford (near Manchester), featuring typical Northern urban industrial terraced houses, cafĂ©, corner shop, newsagent’s, building yard, taxicab office, hairdresser, textile factory, and pub. In the show’s fictional history, the street was built around 1901 and named in honor of the coronation of King Edward VII. The show currently airs five times per week (with some repeats). Originally it was twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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I was living in South Australia when Coronation Street was first aired in England, and it took a little while to reach us. But it did get shown in Australia in 1961, back to back with Peyton Place from the U.S., and was an instant success. I watched the first few episodes, but was never engaged. I was 10 when it first appeared and its basic themes held no interest for me, nor did I relate to the culture of northern England. My family watched regularly though. My mother was a fan, but was grossly offended by the fact that South Australians saw it as representing English culture as a whole, rather than the working-class culture of the north, which was about as alien to her as South Australia was. She came from a legendarily high-toned seaside resort town on the South Coast. She did note on a trip to England in 1962 to visit her mother, however, that the streets of her home town were deserted for the 30 minutes that Coronation Street aired (twice a week).

The show was conceived in 1960 by scriptwriter Tony Warren at Granada Television in Manchester. Warren’s initial kitchen sink drama proposal was rejected by the station’s founder Sidney Bernstein, but he was persuaded by producer Harry Elton to produce the show for 13 pilot episodes. Within six months of the show’s first broadcast, it had become the most-watched program on British television, and is now a significant part of British culture (going by the nickname Corrie). The show has been one of the most financially lucrative programs on British commercial television, underpinning the success of Granada Television and ITV.

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The first episode was not initially a critical success. Daily Mirror columnist Ken Irwin said that the series would only last three weeks. Granada Television had commi