Ten things you might not know about Coronation Street

Ten things you might not know about Coronation Street

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By Sarah Carson,
Thursday, 19th November 2015
Helen Worth as Gail Platt (Credit: ITV)
Helen Worth as Gail Platt (Credit: ITV)

With our fantastic Corrie event The Secret of Soaps: The Story Behind the Stories coming up next week, it's a great time to unearth some little-known facts about the nation’s favourite – and longest-running – soap opera


1. The Rovers by numbers

Everyone's favourite local watering hole the Rovers Return Inn may seem like a fake pub, but staff still pull a hefty number of pints each week, and Betty's famous hotpot lives on long after actress Betty Driver passed away in 2011. Weekly, The Rovers serves up 1,440 pints, 100 gin and tonics, and 84 hotpots - as well as 2,500 bags of crisps per year. The beer served is actually very weak - and very sweet - shandy, and the gin and tonics are just fizzy water and lime.


2. There are three scripts per episode

For Corrie's five episodes a week, it takes 66 hours to film. Each show has three scripts per episode, the first on buff paper, the second on pink and the third and final on white paper. Their full length, if stretched out, would amount to 3.5 miles.

The Rovers Return Inn (Credit: ITV)


3. Hair and makeup are keeping Boots in business 

With so many characters with trademark looks, and notorious heavy slap, the hair and make-up team have to lay it on thick - and get through a lot of products. The character of Liz McDonald uses four lipglosses a month, Tracy Barlow uses one red lipstick per month, and Michelle Connor uses two kohl pencils a month. The rest of the cast also use 50 boxes of tissues, 20 packs of make-up wipes, ten lipsticks, five powders, six eyeliners, four blushers, six eye-shadows and 15 cans of hairspray


4. What's the most-watched episode?

An oldie but a goodie: Corrie's most-watched episode - with 26.65 million viewers - is still Christmas Day 1987, when Hilda Ogden left Weatherfield for the last time (until she reprised the role for a few specials later on). Next was 1983's love triangle between Deirdre Barlow, Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin, which garnered 20 million viewers, and the third was serial killer Richard Hillman's tense confession to wife Gail Platt in 2003, which drew in an audience of 19.4 million.


5. Superstar guest stars

A number of familiar faces have graced the cobbles before they made it big - Patrick Stewart's first role on television was in a 1967 episode, while a young Joanna Lumley appeared in 1973, a pre-Brookside Anna Friel was in two episodes in 1991, and Mel B played a supermarket worker in 1993. Sir Ben Kingsley and Pete Postlethwaite have also made appearances, and more recently, veteran stars have made cameos of varying length - from Paddy McGuinness and Peter Kay (separately), to Nigel Havers, Sir Ian McKellen, and Les Dennis.



6. ... and fans

Famous fans of the show include Michael Parkinson, Julie Walters, Victoria Wood, Julie Walters, Cheryl Cole and, bafllingly, Snoop Dogg. Sir Anthony Hopkins, too, told Beverley Callard (who plays outspoken stalwart Liz McDonald, the current landlady of the Rovers Return) that he loves her character. “[Y]ou’re so real” he apparently said, before watching some scenes being filmed, and asked to have a Polaroid picture taken with her in the Rovers. 


7. Moving with the times

When HD technology came into play, the Corrie set had to be adapted for eagle-eyed viewers with new televisions, who would now spot that parts of the set weren't completely authentic. Real bricks replaced plastic ones, the chimney stacks were replaced using fibreglass and sets were given a fresh lick of paint to brighten them up.

8. Long-serving cast members

After 55 years on the air, the only original cast member left is William Roache, who's clocked so many episodes playing Ken Barlow since 1960 that he's now the world's longest-serving television actor in a continuous role. Not far behind him is Eileen Derbyshire, who plays Emily Bishop and has been appearing since 1961, followed by Betty Driver who starred as Betty Williams from 1969 until her death in 2011. Completing the top 10 are Barbara Knox (Rita Sullivan) the late Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre Barlow), Helen Worth (Gail Platt), Elizabeth Dawn (Vera Duckworth), Michael Le Vell (Kevin Webster), Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin), and Sue Nicholls (Audrey Roberts).

David Neilson as Roy Cropper (Credit: ITV)

9. Cropper's shopper

Roy Cropper's trusty shopping bag that he totes about wherever he goes is not a meaningless prop - it belonged to David Neilson's late mother before he took up the role. He told the Radio Times, “That bag went round Loughborough market for years. You see guys standing at bus stops with bags like that and I thought I’d introduce it. It’s also very handy to carry my scripts round in.”


10. Multiple head swaps

With children in soaps, it's normal for numerous actors to play a single character. When a soap's been running so long, and so many characters stick around, it makes sense that the Platt, Barlow and Webster children have had a bit of a circus of actors taking on the roles, but the character of Peter Barlow - now aged 50 - has been played by a whopping seven different actors. Chris Gascoyne has held the part since 2000 - the longest of anyone so far - but anything can happen in Weatherfield, an eighth actor could still come along beat him later.



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With our fantastic Corrie event The Secret of Soaps: The Story Behind the Stories coming up next week, it's a great time to unearth some little-known facts about the nation’s favourite – and longest-running – soap opera