Day 18 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
Stephen Hancock, who played Ernest Bishop, had his contract up for renewal. He didn’t feel that the contracts, whereby some of the cast were paid appearance money for every episode even though they didn’t appear in them all, were fair and so told the producer he wouldn’t be signing. Bill Podmore tried numerous times to change his mind but he stood firm and was adamant that under the existing system, he wanted to leave. Writer John Stevenson came up with the exit storyline. It would not have been believable for Ernest and Emily to split up and divorce and just as unlikely for him to leave the area without her. It would have been unfair to send Emily away when Eileen Derbyshire had no desire to leave the show. So it was decided that in order to save Emily Bishop, Ernest must die.
Ernest was the wages clerk at Baldwin’s Casuals and was busy making up the wages one day when two youths, Tommo Jackson and Dave Lester, burst into the office with a shotgun and demanded the cash. As Ernie handed it over, Mike Baldwin came into the office, nudging the gunman who shot Ernie in the chest. The raiders fled whilst Mike stared in horror at Ernie’s lifeless body. He was rushed to hospital but died on the operating table.
Another departure this year was Ray Langton. Ray had grown bored with his work and domestic life and started up an affair with Janice Stubbs who worked at Dawson’s café. Emily was the manager there and was horrified when she uncovered their illicit relationship. Deirdre grew suspicious and Emily was forced to tell her the truth. Deirdre confronted Ray and he was repentant promising them a new start in Amsterdam. She agreed to emigrate with him but when it came down to it she decided she couldn’t trust him enough and refused to go.
Also in 1978: Gail Potter meets Brian Tilsley; Alf Roberts and Renee Bradshaw get married; Fred Gee proposes to Betty Turpin, Bet Lynch and Alma Walsh from The Flying Horse in an attempt to get a pub of his own; the factory workers go on strike Hilda is sacked for asking for a new broom; Elsie Howard becomes Elsie Tanner again.