There’s a well-trodden path from the cobblestones of Coronation Street to the boards of the serious stage.

Stars who’ve made the transition include Pat Phoenix, who played the incomparable Elsie Tanner, and Roy Barraclough, who was irrepressible Rovers’ landlord Alec Gilroy.

In addition, Philip Lowrie (Dennis Tanner), Sally Anne Matthews (Jenny Bradley) and Alan Browning (Alan Howard) have all swapped the screen for the stage at some point in their Corrie careers.

Philip Lowrie (Dennis Tanner) plays Young Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer, February 1968

Philip Lowrie (Dennis Tanner) plays Young Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer, February 1968

Even national soap treasure Hilda Ogden, brilliantly portrayed by Jean Alexander, has strayed from the Street to make a film in her own right.

The tradition has continued right up to this year as two Corrie regulars took time off to appear in Hamlet at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre in February.

They were Nicola Thorp, who plays Pat Phelan’s daughter Nicola Rubinstein, and Victoria Ekanoye, who portrays accountant Angie Appleton.

Stephen Hancock (Ernie Bishop) at the piano in C.P. Taylor’s wartime story And a Nightingale Sang, May 1980

Stephen Hancock (Ernie Bishop) at the piano in C.P. Taylor’s wartime story And a Nightingale Sang, May 1980

Fallowfield actress Pat Phoenix stayed local when she played Catherine in Oldham Rep’s version of the Tennessee Williams’ play Suddenly Last Summer in July 1968.

Rehearsals with director Carl Paulsen and subsequent performances all took place at the company’s Coliseum Theatre in Fairbottom Street, Oldham.

Long-standing Corrie actress Barbara Knox, who plays Rita Sullivan, made her debut at the Coliseum with a small part in the stage production of Goodbye Mr Chips in 1962.

Renowned film director Alfred Hitchcock poses with a skull at the Rovers Return, June 1964

Renowned film director Alfred Hitchcock poses with a skull at the Rovers Return, June 1964

Knox, who comes from Oldham, has played Rita on Coronation Street for 46 years. She was made an MBE in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Other Street stars who’ve appeared at the Coliseum include William Roache (Ken Barlow), Judith Barker (Janet Barlow) and Jean Alexander.

Philip Lowrie left his character Dennis Tanner a long way behind him when he played Young Marlow in the Watford Theatre version of Oliver Goldsmith’s play She Stoops to Conquer in February 1968.

Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) appears in a safety film for British Gas, January 1988

Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) appears in a safety film for British Gas, January 1988

Lowrie, born in Ashton-under-Lyne, donned a lacy 18th century costume for the part – a complete contrast to the snappy 60s gear sported by Dennis as the black sheep of the Street.

Oldham actress Sally Ann Matthews was dressed in period garb too when she starred as Hope in the play Indigo Mill at the Polka Theatre for Children, Wimbledon, in April 1992.

Her trademark red hair, a feature of her Street character Jenny Bradley, was hidden under a scarf for the role.

Alan Browning (Alan Howard) returns to his reporter’s roots to shoot a TV drama, October 1971

Alan Browning (Alan Howard) returns to his reporter’s roots to shoot a TV drama, October 1971

No head scarf was more famous than the one sported by Street character by Hilda Ogden. She wore it over her customary curlers in a film she made for British Gas in January 1988.

Hilda (Jean Alexander) gave pensioners homespun advice on economic cooking and beating the burglars.

She probably didn’t take notes from master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock when he visited the Coronation Street set in June 1964.

Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner) rehearsing at the Oldham Coliseum with director Carl Paulsen, July 1968

Carl Paulsen , Director of the Oldham Repertory theatre Club’s Coliseum venue in Fairbottom Street, Manchester discussing the role of Coronation Street actress Pat Phoenix (right) ahead of her performance as Catherine in the Tennessee William’s play “Suddenly Last Summer”.
15th July 1968.

The British film director, responsible for classics like The Birds and Psycho, posed with a skull for dramatic effect at the Rovers’ bar.

Roy Barraclough would probably have enjoyed seeing a skull in his pub when he played landlord Alec Gilroy in the 1990s. Barraclough was an accomplished stage actor who appeared in everything from musicals to high drama.

He starred in Gypsy, the Boy Friend and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman as well as playing Santa in the musical Santa Claus.

Oldham actress Barbara Knox (Rita Sullivan) gets a pointer from Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden), January 1981

Oldham actress Barbara Knox (Rita Sullivan) gets a pointer from Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden), January 1981

Actor Stephen Hancock liked to play the piano as Ernest Bishop, the man who married Emily Nugent, in numerous episodes of Coronation Street.

He was tickling the ivories again as he took the lead role of George in C. P. Taylor’s bitter-sweet wartime comedy And a Nightingale Sang at the Belgrade Theatre.

Helping him sing along in our photo are stage daughter Helen, Elspeth Charlton, and wife Peggy, played by Peggy Gosschalk.

Sally Ann Matthews (Jenny Bradley) plays Hope in the children’s production Indigo Mill, April 1992

Sally Ann Matthews (Jenny Bradley) plays Hope in the children’s production Indigo Mill, April 1992

Actor Alan Browning, who played Elsie Tanner’s husband Alan Howard on the Street from 1969 to 1973, went back to his roots when he filmed scenes for a film of his life in October 1971.

A former journalist in Newcastle, Browning returned to a newsroom to type up a few stories. He was criticised though for leaving his hat on – something a true reporter would never do!

Roy Barraclough (Alec Gilroy) steps out on stage with Henrietta Whitsun-Jones, September 1992

Roy Barraclough (Alec Gilroy) steps out on stage with Henrietta Whitsun-Jones, September 1992

Many more unmissable pictures and memories of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Manchester in the 1970s – on sale at a reduced price for M.E.N. readers.

Clive’s two companion books, Around Manchester in the 1950s and 1960s, are on offer at a reduced price too!

Just check out our online shop for more details or ring 01928 503777 to place your order.