Day 40 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
In 1999 Granada closed their visitor attraction, The Granada Studio Tours, which included the outdoor set for Coronation Street. This gave the producers the opportunity to expand the set and include the exteriors of some places that we’d only ever seen the inside of and to include some new locations as well. A medical centre and chip shop (sadly not Jackson’s Chippy) were placed on Rosamund Street on the site of the old Graffiti Club and on Victoria Street shops for Elliott & Son’s Butchers, Roy’s Rolls and D & S Hardware were built. Strangely a new viaduct which had never been seen or mentioned before also appeared crossing Rosamund Street behind the Rovers. Photographs of the new additions can be found here.
The year started with the Street’s first ever two-handed full episode, featuring Raquel and Curly Watts. At 2 in the morning, just as Curly is in the kitchen mixing up something to try and help him avoid too bad a hangover, there is a knock on his back door. He thinks it's just the lads and shouts at them to go away, but the knocking persists and he opens it to see Raquel, his estranged wife. Curly hopes that she has returned for him, but although she says she still cares for him, she says she doesn't love him the way he wants and she can't some back. Her first bombshell is that she and Curly have a daughter called Alice, although she didn't know she was pregnant when she left and she didn't tell him about it because she didn't want him chasing after her to Kuala Lumpur. Curly is over the moon that he's a father, but very annoyed that she hadn't told him about her, especially as she returned to England to have the baby and stayed with her sister. In his anger, he makes cruel insinuations, asking if she's really his, but Raquel assures him there was nobody else and that she's told Alice all about her father and she's looking forward to meeting him. On a visit to the bathroom, she takes a look round her old home and sees that very little has changed, her old dressing gown is even still hanging on the back of the bedroom door.
As they look at the star that Curly bought for her, he says he's prepared to forgive and forget and that they can start again, but she drops her second bombshell when she tells him there's someone else. When she was in hospital having Alice, she befriended a French couple, the wife of which was dying of cancer. She's been working as a nanny looking after their 2 children as well as Alice and now lives in a chateau, 'a real one, detached and everything', in the Loire valley (she even speaks fluent French and knows a bit about wine). The wife died 2 years ago and since then she's helped put Armand, the husband, back together again, got him loving his children again and the pity she felt for him when his wife first died has blossomed into love. Curly realises that the next thing she'll be asking for is a divorce, which she duly does and she knows he'll give her one, because he's a nice bloke who still loves her and wants her to be happy. She finally drops her third bombshell, announcing that she's pregnant and needs to be married in case the child is a boy, for inheritance purposes. Curly opines 'Why can't it be me, why can't it ever be me', but as Raquel predicted, Curly agrees to the divorce and seems to be finally accepting that it's over. She says she wants Alice to get to know her real father and that he can come over to France any time and that when she's older, she can come over and stay with him during the holidays and they set the first visit for Easter. As dawn is starting to break, she says goodbye and leaves by the back door with tears in her eyes.
Another landmark this year came in the form of the 40th Anniversary of the programme. Rather than celebrate another decade with a special TV Times supplement and a couple of TV specials it was decide to broadcast an hour long episode featuring the culmination of a campaign to save the Street’s cobbles which the council was threatening to tarmac over. But more than that, the real headline grabber was that this episode would be broadcast live for the first time since February 3rd 1961. The only members of the cast remaining who had ever known what it was like not to be able to redo a fluffed line were Bill Roach and Eileen Derbyshire. There were significant logistical problems with the shoot as well. All the action was taking place on a single day so most outdoor scene had to be crammed in to the first part of the programme before it started to get too dark. The final scene was a major problem too as it took place outside the Rovers after everyone had emptied out of the pub, so the final interior scenes for the Rovers had to be filmed in the shell on the outdoor set. Despite all the problems the programme was a great success and the cobbles were saved when Stan Potter (played by Noddy Holder), turned up with a fake preservation order for them.
Also in 2000: Steve McDonald borrows money off Jez Quigley to start Streetcars; Bethany Platt born; Mike Baldwin marries Linda Sykes; Kevin Webster marries Alison Wakefield; Alison Wakefield commits suicide; Peter Barlow returns; Terry Duckworth sells a kidney for £25k and does a runner; Vera Duckworth donates a kidney to Paul Clayton; Eileen Grimshaw makes her first appearance; Jim McDonald kills Jez; Jim McDonald and Liz remarry; Curly Watts and Emma Taylor get married.