Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Coronation Street In 1980 - The Fantasy And The Reality...

From the 1970 Coronation Street TV Times souvenir magazine: Denis Parkin's view of the Street in 1980. Inset, the reality.

And so, there we were, in 1970, and Corrie was celebrating its one thousandth episode. The TV Times had come up with a commemorative magazine - very much as it had for the wedding of Elsie and Steve Tanner in 1967.

In the 1970 magazine, Denis Parkin, the Street's original designer, gazed into the future to give us his view of the Street in 1980.

Let's take a look at Mr Parkin's 1970 view of 1980, and the state of affairs in the real 1980.

The Rovers was all set for change, apparently. A grand revamp. Microwave ovens had arrived on the scene (at a price) in the 1960s and the Rovers would, apparently, be selling microwaved scampi and chips in 1980. And the punters would be able to watch ITV 2 (European Super League Soccer!). The regulars (joined by the inhabitants of a new block of multi-storey flats round the corner), would be able to order drinks anytime between 10.30am and midnight.

Piffle and bunk.

The '70s were a time of financial dire straits, and The Rovers was still a clapped out old boozer in 1980. Weatherfield had dabbled in high rise blocks in the 1960s, but quickly dropped the concept. There was no new colossal round the corner.

In 1980, microwave ovens were still not affordable to the vast majority - hardly anybody had them. I remember when a city centre cafe installed one where I live in 1981 - some of us were terrified of radiation poisoning! The microwave came home to roost in the 1980s, but in 1980 the Rovers certainly didn't have one.

However, Annie Walker did increase the pub's menu in 1980 - offering soup. Boiled in a saucepan, of course!

There had been talk of ITV 2 since at least the 1960s. But it never actually arrived until November 1982, as Channel 4. Plus, the Rovers had no television set in the bar in 1980. And as for the licensing laws...

Let's clack on down the Street:

Number 1 was as unchanging as Albert Tatlock.

Number 3 saw some change in 1980 - Arnold Swain, "husband" of Emily Bishop, had a new front door put on.

Denis Parkin did not foresee the changes at No 5. This house was completely modernised at the behest of cockney businessman Mike Baldwin in 1976. It reflected one of the great fixations of the mid-1970s to mid-1980s: having the middle wall demolished and knocking two cosy rooms into one great big one.

Back to Denis Parkin, and Len Fairclough and Elsie Tanner had done great things to their homes by the fantasy 1980: the frontages of No 9 and No 11 had been jointly renovated, with "neat, airy metal framed windows, re-pointed brickwork, and fancy porches".

And in the real 1980? Well, no, lovey, there was no dosh to chuck about in the 1970s, and by 1980 the frontages of No 9 and No 11 were unchanged. In 1980, Len and Rita Fairclough came close to breaking up. Len "belted 'er one" and she fled to Blackpool. When Rita finally decided to return, Len installed new kitchen units for her and, if I remember rightly, central heating. But, curiously, the draughty old wooden sash windows remained unchanged.

At No 11, Elsie Tanner had already made changes to her home in the late 1960s, installing a new kitchen. In the early 1970s, she installed a new pink bathroom suite. Very Elsie.

We'll clatter on past the Ogdens, where Stan had installed a serving hatch in 1971, and take a look at the fantasy 1980 Corner Shop:

"The Corner Shop is unrecognisable. With the nearby flats bringing more people into the area, it has been changed into a supermarket."

And in the real 1980? No, it hadn't.

The fantasy 1980 Street had been generally "improved":

"...the council have moved in, sealed off the street to through traffic and created pretty pavement triangles with flower beds and a bench."

Sounds fabulous. But, sadly, it turned out to be cobblers. It was still cobbles and cracked paving slabs in 1980.

And lastly, Mr Parkin took his fantasy 1980 view of the Street under the viaduct:

"... beneath the viaduct, British Rail have developed the arches and turned them into shops. A flashy boutique sells the latest 1980 catsuits, and over the viaduct the 150m.p.h London-Manchester express glides by on the hour."

Sadly, in the depressed (and depressing) 1970s, the viaduct arch was still associated with rag and bone man Tommy Deakin and its biggest moment of fame (I mean infamy) was Deirdre Langton being "molested" under it in 1977.

The catsuit, beautifully worn by Diana Rigg in the 1960s series The Avengers, had given way to the boiler suit in 1980.


All in all, in 1980, the Street was a bit of a dump.

Very much as it was in 1970.

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