Day 10 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
Christmas 1970 saw the conclusion of a story that had started some 2 years earlier. When Steve Tanner had been found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs in September 1968 there had been no evidence to condemn anybody of foul play. In November Joe Donnelli, a friend of Steve Tanner’s from the American base at Burtonwood turned up on Coronation Street and lodged with Minnie Caldwell. A dangerous and violent man who enjoyed going to war, he locked Irma Barlow in the flat above the shop and confessed to how he had murdered Steve over a gambling debt. Threatening her with a pair of scissors he told her he would not let her share her secret with anyone.
For over two weeks he kept her in a constant state of fear as his prisoner in the shop. Knowing something was amiss, some of the residents lured them both to the Rovers, having called the Military Police. Joe escaped and went to no. 5 where he held a terrified Minnie at gunpoint. Unaware of the gun, Stan Ogden crashed into the house to deal with the ‘damn Yank’ who had threatened his daughter, Irma. Joe let Minnie go but held turned his gun on Stan. As the end credits rolled on Christmas Eve, a single shot rang out and viewers had to wait until after the festivities to find out that Joe had shot himself and for once in his life, Stan was the hero. In June 1970, the 1000th episode was transmitted. John Braine, author of Room at the Top wrote in a TV Times supplement: ‘The most important character in the Street is the Street itself. No matter who comes and goes, the Street remains.’ Words that still hold true as we head towards the 50th anniversary.
By 1970, the programme had been broadcast in ten other countries including Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Holland, Greece and Sierra Leone, where it was voted the most watched television series, although there were only 3000 TV sets in the country.
Also in 1970: David Barlow & son Darren die in Australia; Elsie Tanner and Alan Howard marry; Dave Smith arrives; Bet starts work at the Rovers; Stan Ogden sells some of Ena Sharples’ songs to club singer Mickey Malone; Handel Gartside romances Minnie Caldwell.