Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Christmas Is Right Up Our Street

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Christmas Is Right Up Our Street

Article excerpt

Christmas is always a dramatic time in soapland as channels vie for viewers and plots take the most unexpected twists and turns. Nostalgia remembers some of Coronation Street's finest festive moments

WHO could ever forget Pat Phoenix singing Hey Look Me Over in the Coronation Street pantomime of 1964? Or the choirboys from St John's Church, Oldham, serenading Ena Sharples as she lay helpless in her hospital bed after collapsing on the street in Christmas 1960? Nearly two decades later, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when Hilda Ogden said her last goodbyes to the Street on Christmas Day 1987.

Locals in the Rovers Return joined her in a rousing rendition of 'Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye' before she left to make a new life as a housekeeper in Derbyshire.

Hilda, portrayed so brilliantly by actress Jean Alexander, was arguably soap's greatest ever character.

A natural busybody and gossip in trademark hair scarf and curlers, she was also capable of supreme drama.

The scene of her weeping over the spectacles of cherished husband Stan after his death has been described as one of the most moving images in TV history.

Hilda's Christmas exit was watched by 27 million viewers - and still remains the highest-rated episode in Coronation Street's history.

Jean Alexander was in happier mood when she joined her fellow stars at an off-street Corrie Christmas party in 1985.

Sharing the festive fun in our photo are Michael Le Vell, who still plays garage-owner Kevin Webster in the soap, and Sue Jenkins who portrayed barmaid Gloria Todd.

Gloria had her own Christmas drama in 1985 when she had to fight off Bet Lynch's boyfriend and resident Rovers' cellarman Frank Mills.

The only drama was on the makeshift stage in December 1964 when the Coronation Street regulars put on a memorable pantomime for 45 children from the Wood Street Mission in Manchester. The cast all played roles in Cinderella as the Corrie set was transformed into a theatre for the night.

Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) was the star turn as Prince Charming with Lucille Hewitt (Jennifer Moss) as Cinderella.

Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie) was Buttons, Emily Nugent (Eileen Derbyshire) appeared as Dandini and Annie Walker (Doris Speed) was the Fairy Godmother.

Grumpy Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth) was beautifully typecast as Baron Hardup!

The plotline for the panto episode saw the Walkers providing lemonade for the children and Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) acting as the prompt. She spent all night learning everyone's lines!

Hilda Ogden was in charge of make-up and husband Stan (Bernard Youens) looked after the props.

The whole production was rounded off with the cast singing the Beatles' hit 'She Loves You'.

All the children loved the panto, as the smiling faces on our photos clearly show.

Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) read them a story and Minnie Caldwell handed out the party drinks. …

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