Saturday, 3 September 2011

50 Years Of Corrie In 50 Days – 1997

(This post was originally posted by Sunny Jim on the Coronation Street Blog in 2010, reposted to this blog with permission.)

Day 37 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
‘The Street is currently being terrorised by a smiling axeman.’ So wrote Victor Lewis-Smith in The Daily Mirror about the arrival of new producer Brian Park. Over the years various producers had come in and set about rejuvenating the Street after it had become stale and complacent but none had carried out such a large scale restructuring of cast and storylines as Park was about to. Coronation Street was losing the ratings war with Eastenders and it had gone from a programme that your mother watched to one that your grandmother did. Park also thought that it was facing bias from the press which perceived the programme as being old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy.

On his first day he sacked Peter Baldwin (though credit for this decision has to go to his predecessor Sue Pritchard), who played dopey Derek Wilton, causing outcry across the globe but he’d only just started. Other casualties of Park’s cull were Don Brennan, Percy Sugden, Andy McDonald, Anne Malone, Bill Webster, Billy Williams, Maureen Holdsworth and Scamper the dog and new arrivals included Zoe Tattersall, neighbours from hell The Battersbys and a new look Nicky Tilsley, played by Adam Rickitt. As well as making changes to the cast he also tried to introduce bigger, bolder and longer storylines and move power away from the script writers and more towards the storylining team, feeling that they took a more long-term view towards the stories than script writers who just dealt with one episode at a time.

The Battersbys arrived on the Street with a bang, They were loud, brash, inconsiderate and the sort of people who think that the world revolves around them. They weren’t popular with the residents and Percy Sugden got up a petition to have them forcibly removed, while life became unbearable for next door neighbour Curly Watts who had to suffer loud music blaring out from no. 5 at all hours of the day and night. At the end of his tether he broke into their house and threw their CD player out of the window onto the cobbles below. In response, and much to the amusement of Leanne and Toyah, Les head butted Curly, smashing his glasses.

Toyah took a part-time job at the café and Leanne joined her mother at Underworld, only to get the sack for smoking and setting off the fire alarm. Nick Tilsley returned from Canada to study PE at the local technical college and much to his mother’s horror, started a relationship with Leanne who took his virginity. Meanwhile Toyah fell for Emily Nugent’s eco-warrior nephew, Geoffrey ‘Spider’ Nugent who had moved into his auntie’s spare room. Together they liberated Teresa the turkey that Les was planning to eat for Christmas dinner but the bird wandered out on to the cobbles and was run over by Les.

Also in 1997: Brad Armstrong is born in the back room at the Rovers, delivered by Betty; Fred Elliott marries Maureen Holdsworth but she runs off to Germany with Bill Webster, Don Brennan dies crashing Alma’s car into the viaduct; Mavis Wilton moves to Cartmel to open a B & B; Alec Gilroy bails out Jack and Vera over their VAT bill; Alec opens Golden Years dating agency; Kevin Webster leaves Sally and moves in with Natalie Horrocks; Deirdre starts seeing airline pilot Jon Lindsay; Fiona Middleton is jilted at the altar after she admits to Alan McKenna to having slept with Jim McDonald; Flaming Nora and Sunny Jim meet for the first time, on the set of Coronation Street.

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