TV’s longest running soap Coronation Street has become something of a second home for Merseyside actors over the past six decades.
At least 20 of them have trodden the famous cobblestones or called in at the Rovers Return since the programme was first aired on Friday December 9th 1960.
One of the very first was Liverpool-born Tony Booth who played Malcolm Wilkinson from episode five in January 1961 to episode eight a few weeks later.
Malcolm was the flash boyfriend of machinist Christine Hardman, played by Christine Hargreaves. Although he invited Christine to the rugby club dance, the two soon split up.
Booth’s future wife, Pat Phoenix, was already playing Elsie Tanner on the Street. The pair married 25 years later in 1986.
Another early Merseyside representative was Peter Adamson who played builder Len Fairclough from episode 14 in 1961 to 1983. Born in Hannan Road, Kensington, Adamson worked as a commercial artist before taking up acting.
Adamson’s time on the programme was punctuated by bouts of alcoholism, but his character still enjoyed some memorable storylines – including uttering the first swear word on the Street!
Len used the word ‘bloody’ to Emily Nugent (Eileen Derbyshire) in October 1962 when his friend’s baby was kidnapped. He immediately apologised.
Perhaps the most memorable character played by a Merseyside actor was the incomparable Hilda Ogden, brilliantly portrayed by Toxteth-born Jean Alexander.
With her trademark apron, permanent hair rollers and grating singing voice, the cleaner with a heart of gold entranced the nation from 1962 until 1987.
Often led down by her work-shy husband Stan, played by Bernard Youens, Hilda exhibited inner steel and dignity that endeared her to generations of viewers.
There was a national campaign to ‘Save Hilda’ when her departure was announced. An audience of more than 27 million – the highest figure in the soap’s history – watched her final episode on Christmas Day 1987.
Stan and Hilda shared a particularly wistful moment in August 1971 when they returned to Archie Street in Salford, the model for Coronation Street, just before its demolition.
Theatre producer and Everton FC chairman Bill Kenwright played Gordon Clegg at various times on the Street, starting in 1968. The adopted son of corner-shop owners Les and Maggie Clegg, Gordon initially left Weatherfield to become an accountant.
Kenwright released a single in August 1968, which he sang on the soap. It was called Love’s Black and White and was written by Bernie Woods and John Pantry.
One of the biggest Street stars of the 1970s was binman Eddie Yeats, who was always dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes with Stan Ogden. Eddie was portrayed with panache by Wallasey-born actor Geoffrey Hughes.
Hughes was in the series from 1974 to 1983 and then went on to play Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances and Twiggy in the Royle Family.
Sue Jenkins, born in Liverpool, played barmaid Gloria Todd in 238 episodes of the Street from 1985 to 1988. A highlight was ending up on a blind date with Jack Duckworth, posing as his alter ego Vince St Clair!
Jenkins was Jackie Corkhill in Brookside from 1991 to 2001, working alongside two other famous Liverpool actors who also appeared on the Street – Sue Johnston and Louis Emerick.
Johnston, who grew up in Prescot, was Sheila Grant in Brookside from 1982 to 1990 and Barbara Royle in the Royle Family. She played Gloria Price in Coronation Street from 2012 to 2014.
Emerick, born in Toxteth, was Mick Johnson in Brookside before playing retired teacher Mike Thornberry on the Street in 2018.
Liverpool-born actor and TV presenter Les Dennis portrayed reformed burglar Michael Rodwell from March 2014 to December 2016. Rodwell died of a heart attack after being left for dead by the Street’s villain supreme Pat Phelan.
Phelan was played to sinister perfection by Toxteth actor Connor McIntyre from 2013 to 2014 and again from 2016 to 2018. Extortion, blackmail, murder and kidnapping were all part of his grisly repertoire before being stabbed to death.
Craig Charles, who grew up on the Cantril Farm housing estate, portrayed Lloyd Mullaney on the Street from 2005 to 2011.
Lloyd ran the Street Cars taxi firm with Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson). The two were responsible for some of the soap’s best comedy routines as they manned the switchboard with Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver).
Other Merseyside actors on the Street have included Michael Starke, Sinbad in Brookside, who played Jerry Morton in 2007 and Margi Clarke who was Jackie Dobbs in 1989.
Mark Monaghan, from Toxteth, portrayed fork lift truck driver Adrian Mortimer and Benidorm and Brookside actress Kate Fitzgerald was Nancy Tinker.
*Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45, is now on the sale at the special pre-order price of £14.99 including UK postage and packing.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order your book or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.