|Created by||Tony Warren|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||23–25 minutes |
(occasional 60 minute episodes)
|Production company(s)||Granada Television (1960–2006) |
ITV Productions (2006–2009)
ITV Studios (2009–present)
|Original release||9 December 1960 – present|
There was 21 original regular characters from the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street. Series creator Tony Warren is heralded as the mastermind who devised each and every one of these characters, drawing inspiration from his own life growing up in the back streets of Manchester, where the series is set.
Of the original cast, few survived the 1960s. The first to quit was Alan Rothwell, who played aspiring footballer David Barlow, although he later returned from 1964 to 1968. Following his exit, Noel Dyson, who played Ida Barlow, declined a new contract and became the first regular character to die, with Ida meeting her maker under the wheels of a bus in September 1961.
In late 1961, when the show was now fully networked and at the height of its popularity, a handful of cast members were forced to leave the show due to a strike of the actors' union Equity. These included Linda and Ivan Cheveski, Christine Hardman, Esther Hayes, Lucille Hewitt, Leonard Swindley and later Dennis Tanner. The rest of the cast were safe due to having previously signed two-year contracts, a rarity in television at the time.
The long break caused actors Philip Lowrie and Anne Cunningham to decline new contracts six months later once the strike was over, although Lowrie did make a full-time return a year later.
The biggest change to hit the cast occurred in 1964 when Tim Aspinall was named as the new producer. Within days, he had axed several fan favourites including Frank Barlow, Harry and Concepta Hewitt, and most controversially, Martha Longhurst. It was later reported that ITV bosses had stepped in to save Albert Tatlock, Ken and Valerie Barlow, and Lucille Hewitt from the chop. Martha was a particular favourite with viewers, who enjoyed her friendship with Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell, due to their many scenes sat in the snug of the Rovers Return gossiping about the locals. Martha's death caused outrage with the public and the cast, so much so that actress Violet Carson, who played Ena, almost refused to take part in Martha's final scene.
Aspinall was sacked later that year, but not before Betty Alberge had been given her marching orders. Her final scenes as shopkeeper Florrie Lindley aired in June 1965. That same year, Arthur Lowe also made his final appearance as Leonard Swindley. He later took the character into two spin-off comedy series Pardon The Expression and Turn Out The Lights, which featured several former and future Street stars in different roles.
Coronation Street lost its original teenagers Dennis Tanner and David Barlow in 1968. The cast and crew were shocked in June 1970 by the sudden death of Arthur Leslie from a heart attack. As his colleagues, family and fans mourned, his character, Rovers landlord Jack Walker, suffered the same fate off-screen a few weeks later when he was quietly written out of the show.
Producers were devastated in 1973 when Pat Phoenix handed in her resignation after 13 years playing Elsie Tanner, having tired of the role. Elsie left the Street later that year with husband Alan Howard (played by Phoenix's real-life husband Alan Browning). A year later, Jennifer Moss was sacked as Lucille Hewitt due to her alcoholism. April 1976 saw Elsie return to the Street, while the show lost another of its original characters in Minnie Caldwell. Margot Bryant suffered from memory loss and couldn't continue in the role, so Minnie moved away. Due to her own advancing age and ill health, Violet Carson's appearances also became increasingly sparse in the mid-to-late 1970s, leading to a low-key exit in April 1980.
By the time the programme celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 1980, only four original characters remained: Elsie Tanner, Ken Barlow, Annie Walker and Albert Tatlock. Doris Speed retired in October 1983, leading to the departure of original Rovers landlady Annie Walker, while Pat Phoenix quit the role of Elsie for good in January 1984. Jack Howarth died in March 1984 and Albert Tatlock died off-screen two months later, leaving Ken the only original character.
After Anne Cunningham ended her short return stint as Linda Cheveski in 1984, Ken was, for many years, the only original cast member still on the Street and along with the show itself, celebrated 50 years on television in December 2010. In January 2011, it was announced Philip Lowrie would be reprising his role as Dennis Tanner after a 43-year absence. Lowrie's return in May 2011 meant Roache was now joined by a second original cast member on the Street for the first time since Cunningham departed 27 years previously.
In December 2013 it was announced that Philip Lowrie had been axed from the show. Dennis Tanner departed on 30 July 2014, again leaving Ken Barlow the only remaining original character. The character of Dennis Tanner was killed off off-screen in February 2020, outruling any possible return.
|David Barlow||Alan Rothwell||1960–1961, 1963–1968|
|Frank Barlow||Frank Pemberton||1960–1964, 1967, 1971|
|Ida Barlow||Noel Dyson||1960–1961|
|Ken Barlow||William Roache||1960–present|
|Minnie Caldwell||Margot Bryant||1960–1976|
|Ivan Cheveski||Ernst Walder||1960–1963, 1966–1967|
|Linda Cheveski||Anne Cunningham||1960–1963, 1966–1968, 1984|
|Christine Hardman||Christine Hargreaves||1960–1963|
|Esther Hayes||Daphne Oxenford||1960–1963, 1971–1972|
|Harry Hewitt||Ivan Beavis||1960–1965, 1967|
|Lucille Hewitt||Jennifer Moss||1960–1974|
|Florrie Lindley||Betty Alberge||1960–1965|
|Martha Longhurst||Lynne Carol||1960–1964|
|Concepta Riley||Doreen Keogh||1960–1964, 1967, 1972, 1975|
|Ena Sharples||Violet Carson||1960–1980|
|Leonard Swindley||Arthur Lowe||1960–1961, 1962–1965|
|Dennis Tanner||Philip Lowrie||1960–1962, 1963–1968, 2011–2014|
|Elsie Tanner||Patricia Phoenix||1960–1973, 1976–1984|
|Albert Tatlock||Jack Howarth||1960–1984|
|Annie Walker||Doris Speed||1960–1983|
|Jack Walker||Arthur Leslie||1960–1970|