Day 9 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
In 1969, Coronation Street transmitted its first episode in colour. To mark the event a special episode was scripted by H. V. Kershaw which took the cast on an outing to the Lake District to show off its incredible beauty in full colour for those people fortunate enough to have a colour TV.
Things didn’t go to plan however as nobody had ordered any colour film for the cameras and so colour filming didn’t take place until the following episode which covered the aftermath of the trip which had ended up with the coach crashing. As a result, instead of the first colour shots being of Elsie Tanner walking in the glorious Lake District landscape, it was of a bloodied Hilda Ogden wandering round hospital corridors searching for Stan. To make things worse, some of the shots from the location shoot were to be used in the following episode which resulted in a mishmash of scenes cutting from colour to black and white and back again.
This year saw the first appearance of Manchester’s oldest barmaid, Betty Williams nee Turpin. Betty and her policeman husband first came to Coronation Street to help out her sister Maggie Clegg in the corner shop but she so took over the place and tried to organise Maggie’s personal life that Maggie sold Jack Walker the idea of her working in the Rovers when Annie went away on holiday. On her return Annie tried to get rid of her as she feared Jack would find Betty attractive. Although it feels like she’s been there ever since, Betty has been sacked, reinstated, stormed out in a huff and been begged to return more times than it would be seemly to remember.
Whilst she is usually a warm and comforting mother figure, she started out as rather loud, brash and vicious-tongued gossip. She still doesn’t suffer fools gladly and can be very disapproving of younger generations, handing out withering put downs with a pursing of her lips and adjustment of her ample, matronly bosom. But at heart she is a kindly soul who is happy to share the wisdom of her years with younger women facing a crisis.
She was widowed in 1974, when Cyril had a heart attack and she had a breakdown. She was so ill that the funeral was arranged without her and it was only at the last minute that Maggie decided she was well enough to attend. She always maintained that Cyril would be the only man in her life but she found love again in 1995 and married Billy Williams. Her secret to a happy marriage is to always fill the kettle before you go to bed in case the water isn’t on in the morning.
Also in 1969: Alan Howard arrives; Albert gets engaged to Alice Pickens (played by Doris Hare); Minnie Caldwell runs away because of gambling debt; Annie wins perfect landlady competition by installing a phone and serving hot pot; Gordon Clegg jilts Lucille Hewitt and goes to London; Emily Nugent meets Ernest Bishop.