In 2011, Network re-released all three of their 'Coronation Street' DVD boxed sets which spanned the '60s, 70s and '80s, as well as issuing new collections covering the next two decades. The episodes on the first three decade anthologies remain incidental to the ones featured on the earlier releases, and I consider that a real wasted opportunity as the mid to late 1970s was an especially good period for the show, and it would have been brilliant to have had fresh episodes making their debut on DVD, even if it meant just omitting one or two episodes on a disc and replacing them with different ones. On the up side, the new modern packaging is much more discreet, and no longer housed in a massive cardboard box with ten DVDs in separate cases, this is a compact collection.
Like all of the other 'Coronation Street' through-the-decade DVD collections, this is a generous collection of 80 episodes, there are no subtitles, no extras, and no remastering, but what you have is quality drama with likeable characters, and a real large helping of warmth and humour.
'Coronation Street' burst into colour in the 1970s, and this was the decade where we were introduced to many larger than life characters like the brassy Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) who had previously appeared briefly in 1966, the acid tongued factory worker Ivy Tilsley (beautifully played by Lynne Perrie), the loveable rouge Eddie Yeats (Geoffrey Hughes) and nightclub singer turned newsagent Rita Littlewood (Barbara Knox) who had also appeared briefly in the 1960s, whilst the old guard like battleaxe Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), snotty publican Annie Walker (Doris Speed) and the vampish Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) maintain their rightful places as the stars of the show. On the other had, Bill Roache who still plays Ken Barlow, found someone who could match his acting woodenness in the muscular shape of Chris Quentin who took on the role of Brian Tilsley.
Special episodes which are featured here including the weddings of Elsie Tanner and Alan Howard, Emily Nugent and Ernie Bishop, Gail Potter and Brian Tilsley, the 1977 Silver Jubilee Street party, Valerie Barlow's electrocution, Ernie's murder in the factory, and the hilarious events which occurred during Hilda Ogden's séance.
I do think that the show benefited enormously from producer Bill Podmore, this man understood the Street and the episodes from 1976 upwards are among the best ever in the show's 54 year run (hint.hint: how about another compilation called 'The Podmore Years'?) This was a critically-acclaimed era, and the programme was so cosy, sharp and funny, with completely believable characters and good acting. It's another show now, but 'Coronation Street' was once as down-to-earth as a Lancashire cobblestone, and you can relive it's glory days here.