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4.1 out of 5 stars
50 Years of Coronation Street: The (Very) Unofficial Story
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Despite the title, which to me at least, suggests that a hack from the Sunday tabloids has quickly cobbled together a cut-and-paste job, filled with frothy gossip on the show and it's stars - this book really is nothing like that. In fact, it's one of the best 'Coronation Street' reference books that I have ever come across.

Unlike a lot of 'Corrie' books, this one is textual, with two inserts of pictures. In a well-written, extensively researched account, 'The (Very Unofficial Story)' charts the show's development and beginnings in 1960, right up-to 2010, so it's still quite a recent book. There is an analysis of the most major and significant storylines, viewing figures and reactions from the critics. Even more interesting is that it is draws heavily from new interviews with, amongst others, former cast-members and "behind the scenes" staff, most of whom share their information about the show for the very first time. The result is a fascinating behind-the-scenes guide to the show which now spans a mammoth five decades. A history lesson on British television, and how things have changed since 1960, highly recommended!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2010
The "Unofficial" title implies that this is a "cut and paste" job from a Fleet Street hack of the type we've seen so often before but nothing could be further from the truth. It is well written, extremely well-researched and with plenty of quotes from the people involved in the production at the time. In addition, if several memories of a behind-the-scenes event conflict with each other, Mr Egan is not afraid to print all versions and accept the fact that a definitive historical conclusion is no longer possible to achieve. Very readable despite its detail, it's easily one of the best books ever printed about the "Street".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2010
I was expecting a book full of Corrie-related trivia but my expectations couldn't have been more wrong. This is the definitive account of the history of Coronation Street behind-the-scenes from the beginning to the present day that other tie-ins strive to be, with just the right balance of quotes, histories of the persons involved and snippets of what was going on in the show at the time to give a complete picture of how the show's fortunes changed through each decade. Fantastic, and highly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Coronation Street is the world's longest running soap opera having lasted for five decades and showing no signs of slowing up. I realised why while on holiday in Canada where Coronation Street was shown on television even though the episodes were two years behind the times. The show reached a specified audience and the storylines were the same even if the actors changed. Births, deaths, marriages, break-ups, murders, infidelity, annoying characters and occasional ridiculous scenarios reappeared at regular intervals. In fairness they could build tension and release but rarely surprise. I remember being disappointed when Gail Platt and her obnoxious kids managed to avoid being drowned by Richard Hillman. I'm sure I wasn't the only one amongst the 19.4 million viewers who watched that night thinking the same thing. Hillman's death was the one hundreth in the history of the programme, was another four too much to ask?

The programme was originally an idea of Tony Warren, a former child actor who turned his hand to script writing. Although Warren has since complained he feared he would be identified as a homosexual, his sexual preference was obvious to his fellow actors. Granada TV, which was run by the left wing Bernstein family, was known as being "gay friendly" and it has been suggested that Warren's problem was not his homosexuality but his over-inflated ego. He disliked his fellow writers and despised many of the producers. One fellow writer put Warren's tantrums down to too much success too early which had shielded him from the general disappointments, setbacks and adversity which goes with scriptwriting and the making of a writer. Wanted by the Inland Revenue for back taxes Warren went to Europe where he made a living as a drag artist before picking up his writing career again.

The Manchester Guardian thought the show would have a long life, the Daily Mirror predicted it would die within a year. Pat Phoenix reminded the Daily Mirror's correspondent Ken Irwin of this every year by sending a postcard which read, "Another year's gone, Ken. Who was it who said it wouldn't last?" In fact Coronation Street represented a way of life that had already past and its one endearing quality was its disinclination to address social issues. Critics argued that it did not reflect social reality but such critics were usually southern born and bred. When the programme makers addressed "issues" they got it wrong. On Easter Day in 2009 the scriptwriters took the opportunity to attack Christian belief and promote humanism. They put the criticism and the advocacy into the mouth of Ken Barlow who had spent the previous 49 years being unable to express a firm opinion on anything!!

Every Coronation Street episode has been preserved by Granada, despites doubts about its success. Granada did not allow a press launch or press release in case the show failed. The early episodes were recorded live but Granada switched to pre-recorded when a technician's strike prevented a broadcast in February 1961. The same year it reached number one in the ratings. Soon after the actors' union Equity called a strike. Coronation Street did not collapse thanks to the fact that fourteen of its regular cast of twenty-five had signed contracts before the dispute arose and were legally bound to work. The fourteen included the main characters with the producers creating the impression there were more on set with dialogue to missing characters by means of "noises off". The strike lasted five months and the Street remained number one.

As in life the Street was affected by births, deaths and marriages. These were often related to changes in producer, Tim Aspinall deciding he would make an impact by killing off Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol). Other characters Len Fairclough and Ivy Tylsey, played by Peter Adamson and Lynne Pierre respectively were killed off having already been sacked from the show. Regrettably, Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) managed to survive and became the centre of attention when she was imprisoned for fraud. The Liverpool passport office, which I visited at the time, had put up several "Free Deirdre Rashid" notices as the British public entered into the spirit of the storyline. Whether they believed it was a storyline or real life was never esablished.

In the 1980s the Street faced challenges from Brookside on Channel Four and Eastenders on BBC. The former dealt with social issues although the storylines were often so far-fetched they were more suited to Dr Who. The channel started chasing the youth market with Hollyoaks, a programme I've never watched. Eastenders has provided a lasting opponent for Coronation Street sharing the annual British awards between them. Although the Street has adopted the widely-used practice of multiple deaths to replace old characters with new, usually younger ones, some have remained at the heart of the programme, including William Roach who managed to change his working class accent of the 1960s into his middle-class accent of the twenty-first century.

Increasingly the show has concentrated on younger characters to appeal to a younger generation. This may have maintained its British ratings but lost its appeal to ex-pats in Australia for whom it no longer represented home. The Street survived because it was bigger than the actors in it, so that when stars left the show went on without them enabling the writers to reproduce similar storylines for a new generation of actors. It's a sad comment on society that almost three hundred pages are devoted to a fiction, although I tend to agree with John Betjeman that the Street is the modern day version of Dickens. It's just that I prefer Tennyson. Four stars.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2010
If you love Corrie then you dont want to miss this. I was hooked. More than just a trip down memory lane.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2010
With all the hype around Corrie and it's 50th year fans might be tempted by this. But if you're a true fan of the cobbles you may be disappointed. As the title suggests it's 'very unofficial' so anyone who knows the show will quickly come across inaccuracies and mistakes. In this case it might be wise to judge a book by its cover.
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on 10 November 2014
Nice gift
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2013
I enjoyed this - a romp through the show's history with some good facts, interviews and a run down of all the old storylines which brought back some memories. But there are just too many little mistakes dotted through it.
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