Coronation Street is 60: The soap’s most iconic moments revisited

Coronation Street celebrated its 60th Anniversary on Wednesday, with bosses marking the occasion with a week of action-packed storylines.

The ITV soap broke ground when it arrived on screens in 1960 as the first TV series to focus on a group of Northerners, and become a runaway hit despite originally being commissioned for 13 episodes.

So after 10,000 episodes, 57 births, 146 deaths and 131 weddings, here’s a lookback at some of Corrie’s most iconic moments.

Happy Birthday! Coronation Street has celebrated its 60th Anniversary, with bosses marking the occasion through an action-packed week of storylines (2020 cast pictured)

Happy Birthday! Coronation Street has celebrated its 60th Anniversary, with bosses marking the occasion through an action-packed week of storylines (2020 cast pictured)

Happy Birthday! Coronation Street has celebrated its 60th Anniversary, with bosses marking the occasion through an action-packed week of storylines (2020 cast pictured) 

Original: The ITV soap broke ground when it arrived on screens in 1960 as the first TV series to focus on a group of Northerners (the 1960 cast are pictured)

Original: The ITV soap broke ground when it arrived on screens in 1960 as the first TV series to focus on a group of Northerners (the 1960 cast are pictured)

Original: The ITV soap broke ground when it arrived on screens in 1960 as the first TV series to focus on a group of Northerners (the 1960 cast are pictured)

The first episode – 1960

It was the scene that started it all. As the theme tune played over shots of an unassuming Northern Street, bosses could never have predicted it would be the birth of one of the most iconic programmes in TV history.

Corrie’s opening episode aired on 9th December 1960, after creator Tony Warren pitched the idea to ITV of a series focusing on a group of locals living on working-class street in Salford. 

With a cast of just 12 characters, the first episode saw the introduction of young Ken Barlow, who has gone onto become the longest-running character in soap history, with actor William Roache previously admitting his agent had to convince him to take the role.

Despite concerns viewers wouldn’t tune into a programme so grounded in social realism, the series took off, with early characters including Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) and Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) becoming breakout stars.

Wow! Corrie aired its first episode on 9th December 1960, starring a young Ken Barlow, who has gone onto become the longest-running character in soap history

Wow! Corrie aired its first episode on 9th December 1960, starring a young Ken Barlow, who has gone onto become the longest-running character in soap history

Wow! Corrie aired its first episode on 9th December 1960, starring a young Ken Barlow, who has gone onto become the longest-running character in soap history

Corrie airs its first colour episode – 1969

For much of the 1960s it was a given that TV aired in black and white, but on 3rd November 1969 Corrie fans were stunned to see the soap transition to glorious technicolor. 

The Street had embarked on its first on-location shoot as the residents enjoyed a coach ride to the Lake District, but things took a disastrous turn when the bus crashed into a tree.

As police rushed to the scene, the screen transitioned to the hospital where residents were being treated, catching many viewers off-guard as the screen suddenly burst into colour.

This wasn’t the last time Corrie would be broadcast in black and white, as due to a strike in 1971, which saw staff refuse to work with colour equipment, some episodes had to be filmed using the older cameras.

What a change! In 1969 the soap broke new ground when it aired in colour for the first time, following a dramatic bus crash which left much of the Street hospitalised

What a change! In 1969 the soap broke new ground when it aired in colour for the first time, following a dramatic bus crash which left much of the Street hospitalised

What a change! In 1969 the soap broke new ground when it aired in colour for the first time, following a dramatic bus crash which left much of the Street hospitalised

Horrific: In 1983 the soap became headline news thanks to a gripping storyline involving Ken, his wife Deirdre and her lover Mike Baldwin, leading to a dramatic confrontation

Horrific: In 1983 the soap became headline news thanks to a gripping storyline involving Ken, his wife Deirdre and her lover Mike Baldwin, leading to a dramatic confrontation

Horrific: In 1983 the soap became headline news thanks to a gripping storyline involving Ken, his wife Deirdre and her lover Mike Baldwin, leading to a dramatic confrontation

Ken confronts Deirdre about her affair – 1983

Deirdre’s affair with Mike Baldwin proved to be the turning point in the history of soap, as it was the first time a storyline became front page news. 

After several years of wedded bliss to her husband Ken, Deirdre began an illicit affair with factory owner Mike, leading to a dramatic confrontation when the truth was revealed.

In a dramatic scene Deirdre desperately tried to tell Mike that Ken knew about the affair, but she was pulled inside by her husband, who violently shoved her against the door.

The scenes gripped viewers as they questioned whether Deirdre would stay with Ken and try to make their marriage work, and eventually the couple decided they’d patch this up.

It was an outcome that was even revealed on the scoreboard at Old Trafford football stadium, with crowds cheering as the screen flashed: Ken and Deirdre reunited. Ken 1 – Mike 0. 

So long! Hilda Ogden's departure from the cobbles in 1987, brought in Corrie's highest ever ratings, with 27 million viewers watching her bid farewell on Christmas Day

So long! Hilda Ogden's departure from the cobbles in 1987, brought in Corrie's highest ever ratings, with 27 million viewers watching her bid farewell on Christmas Day

So long! Hilda Ogden’s departure from the cobbles in 1987, brought in Corrie’s highest ever ratings, with 27 million viewers watching her bid farewell on Christmas Day

Hilda Ogden’s exit – 1987

Hilda’s departure from the cobbles brought Coronation Street its highest ever ratings, with 27 million viewers watching her bid farewell on Christmas Day after 23 years on screen.

Actress Jean Alexander decided to leave the soap as bosses struggled to create storylines for Hilda after her husband Stanley’s death in 1984, following actor  Bernard Youens’ death off-screen.

Hilda planned to bid farewell to Weatherfield after accepting a job as a housekeeper in Derbyshire, and the entire Street threw a party in her honour before joining her to sing Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye.’

Historic: 1998 saw Corrie break new ground by introducing their first transgender character, with Hayley Patterson moving to Weatherfield as a love interest for Roy Cropper

Historic: 1998 saw Corrie break new ground by introducing their first transgender character, with Hayley Patterson moving to Weatherfield as a love interest for Roy Cropper

Historic: 1998 saw Corrie break new ground by introducing their first transgender character, with Hayley Patterson moving to Weatherfield as a love interest for Roy Cropper

Hayley Cropper making history as soap’s first transgender character – 1998

When Hayley Patterson first arrived in Weatherfield in 1998, viewers had no idea she’d become one of the soap’s most groundbreaking characters.

She quickly became a fan favourite thanks to her heartwarming relationship with Roy Cropper, but things hit a speed bump when she revealed she was a transgender woman.

Despite this Roy still wanted to be with Hayley when she returned from gender confirmation surgery, and the couple finally wed in 2010 when real-life laws changed allowing transgender people to legally marry. 

Hayley’s story came to a moving end in 2014 when she decided to end her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer with her final scenes earning numerous awards and leaving viewers on the brink of tears.

Devastating: The pair became one of the soap's most iconic couples, with Hayley's tragic death in 2014 leaving many viewers sobbing

Devastating: The pair became one of the soap's most iconic couples, with Hayley's tragic death in 2014 leaving many viewers sobbing

Devastating: The pair became one of the soap’s most iconic couples, with Hayley’s tragic death in 2014 leaving many viewers sobbing

Free The Weatherfield One – 1998

Coronation Street never shied away from embracing the nationwide furore sparked by a storyline, and in 1998 viewers were outraged when Deirdre Barlow was wrongfully imprison for fraud.

The fictitious plot led to reactions from politicians as if Deirdre had actually been thrown behind bars, with Prime Minister Tony Blair vowing his Home Secretary would investigate the crime.

While bosses welcomed campaigns sparked by viewers to Free The Weatherfield One, even printing an image of Deirdre trapped behind bars, the storyline still came to its planned conclusion when she was acquitted and released three weeks later.

Get her out! Deirdre's wrongful imprisonment in 1998 sparked a nationwide furore with even politicians commenting they'd help to free her (even though the story was fiction!)

Get her out! Deirdre's wrongful imprisonment in 1998 sparked a nationwide furore with even politicians commenting they'd help to free her (even though the story was fiction!)

Get her out! Deirdre’s wrongful imprisonment in 1998 sparked a nationwide furore with even politicians commenting they’d help to free her (even though the story was fiction!)

In he goes! Serial killer Richard Hillman became one of Corrie's most iconic villains, and the moment he plunged his family into the canal has gone down in soap history

In he goes! Serial killer Richard Hillman became one of Corrie's most iconic villains, and the moment he plunged his family into the canal has gone down in soap history

In he goes! Serial killer Richard Hillman became one of Corrie’s most iconic villains, and the moment he plunged his family into the canal has gone down in soap history

Killer Richard Hillman drives his car into the canal – 2003

Businessman Richard Hillman has become one of Corrie’s most iconic villains, with attempts to hide his killings become more and more desperate.

When wife Gail discovered the truth, he kidnapped her and her children by tying them in the car, maniacally driving them towards the canal.

Screaming the famous line: ‘This is it! I love you!’ he plunged the car into the water, leaving teen Sarah Platt to desperately try and free her daughter Bethany and brother David.

While the Platt family were able to escape, it was the end of the road for Richard who plunged to the bottom of the canal after taking his final breath.

Savage: Blanche Hunt became one of the soap's most beloved characters thanks to her acid-tongued put-downs including during a visit to AA with the Barlows in 2009

Savage: Blanche Hunt became one of the soap's most beloved characters thanks to her acid-tongued put-downs including during a visit to AA with the Barlows in 2009

Savage: Blanche Hunt became one of the soap’s most beloved characters thanks to her acid-tongued put-downs including during a visit to AA with the Barlows in 2009

Blanche Hunt pays a visit to Alcoholics Anonymous – 2009

Blanche Hunt was one of Corrie’s most beloved characters thanks her comedic one-liners, and her acid tongue was never far away from a spitting remark to the Street, and her daughter Deidre.

But one of her greatest moments came in 2009 when she and the Barlows joined Peter on his visit to Alcoholics Anonymous.

One by one Blanche proceeded to tear apart the attendees for ‘whinging’ about their battles with alcohol, with viewers crying with laughter as she detailed son-in-law Ken’s affairs and her granddaughter Tracy’s stint behind bars.

Disastrous: Corrie marked its 50th Anniversary in 2010 with an epic disaster which was a tram crashing onto the cobbles

Disastrous: Corrie marked its 50th Anniversary in 2010 with an epic disaster which was a tram crashing onto the cobbles

Disastrous: Corrie marked its 50th Anniversary in 2010 with an epic disaster which was a tram crashing onto the cobbles

The Tram Crash – 2010

In 2010 Coronation Street marked its 50th Anniversary with a jaw-dropping week of storylines, which saw Weatherfield thrown into chaos as an explosion led to a tram derailing and crashing onto the cobbles.

The action-packed scenes led to the death of two long-term characters, Molly Dobbs and Ashley Peacock, and left several on deaths door, including Peter Barlow.

For the Anniversary Week bosses also broadcast a live episode, with Peter marrying fiancé Leanne from his hospital bed, and Fiz Stape giving birth to her premature baby, unaware her serial killer husband John had taken another victim hours earlier. 

The scenes were also an homage to a 1967 storyline which saw a tram crash through the viaduct, leading to the famous line from Corrie veteran Rita Sullivan: ‘What is it with me and trams?’ 

Tense: For the Anniversary Week bosses also broadcast a live episode which saw the deaths of two major characters

Tense: For the Anniversary Week bosses also broadcast a live episode which saw the deaths of two major characters

Tense: For the Anniversary Week bosses also broadcast a live episode which saw the deaths of two major characters

Pat Phelan’s last stand – 2018

While Richard Hillman is still viewed as one of Corrie’s most iconic villains, Pat Phelan could earn a close second as he terrorised the Street for months with his murderous ways, killing four characters in the process.

Despite seemingly being killed by his wife Eileen after a dramatic clifftop showdown, viewers were stunned to see him return from the dead days later, storming The Bistro during Michelle Connor’s wedding day and taking everyone hostage.

Gripping scenes saw Phelan threaten the Street with a gun before shooting the bride Michelle herself, before his nemesis Anna Windass finally hit back by stabbing him with a knife, with viewers rejoicing as the killer took his last breath.

Coronation Street’s 60th Anniversary Special airs tonight at 7:30pm on ITV. 

Scary: In 2018 serial killer Pat Phelan came close to stealing the title of Corrie's greatest villain, with his murderous rampage coming to a dramatic close during a siege at The Bistro

Scary: In 2018 serial killer Pat Phelan came close to stealing the title of Corrie's greatest villain, with his murderous rampage coming to a dramatic close during a siege at The Bistro

Scary: In 2018 serial killer Pat Phelan came close to stealing the title of Corrie’s greatest villain, with his murderous rampage coming to a dramatic close during a siege at The Bistro

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