Artist John Bratby was probably the ideal choice to create a portrait of the Coronation Street cast in the 1960s.
His ‘kitchen-sink’ realism and no-nonsense style perfectly matched the gritty Northern tone of the popular Granada soap.
All the Street’s stars were captured in Bratby’s mural, unveiled at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery this week in 1966.
Rovers Return landlord Jack Walker, played by Arthur Leslie, and redoubtable landlady Annie (Doris Speed) were the centerpiece of the painting.
Next to her was the unmistakable hairnet of Ena Sharples, portrayed by Violet Carson, and builder Jerry Booth (Graham Haberfield).
Hilda and Stan Ogden, played by Jean Alexander and Bernard Youens, were prominent along with Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) and Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth).
Bratby himself was considered the founder of the ‘kitchen-sink’ realism movement of the 1950s.
His thickly-laden portraits always contained bright colours – and the faces of his subjects could appear unsightly.
We’re not sure what the cast made of the mural at the launch party, but William Roache was taking a pretty close look at the likeness of his screen character Ken Barlow!
Bratby’s mural arrived in an eventful year for the Street. Ken had an affair with reporter Jackie Marsh (Pamela Craig) and Julie Goodyear made her debut as barmaid Bet Lynch.
The Middleton-born actress only stayed for nine episodes, but returned full-time as Bet in 1970.
Goodyear was well prepared for the role as her father was the landlord of the Bay Horse Hotel in Hopwood, Lancashire.
Other newcomers included Kenneth Cope, who had an eight-month stay as Minnie Caldwell’s lodger Jed Stone, and builder Ray Langton, played by Neville Buswell.
The deeply religious Ena Sharples went to war during the year over the future of the Glad Tidings Mission Hall in Viaduct Street.
As the Mission’s unpaid caretaker, she objected to the opening of a community centre in the building. She handed in her resignation and quit her flat in the mission hall’s vestry.
Social worker Ruth Winter, played by Colette O’Neill, bore the brunt of Ena’s wrath. But she found Ena new lodgings as housekeeper to builders Jerry Booth and Len Fairclough.
Suffice to say it was not a marriage made in heaven! Ena’s stern demeanour and high moral tone didn’t sit well with the brusque builders – and she soon left.
At least Carson had the honour of having a rose named after her – a rare accolade for a Street star.
Off the set, members of the cast called in at Downing Street in March 1966 to meet Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jim Callaghan.
Our photo shows Doris Speed and Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner, dressed for the occasion outside Number Ten. Both certainly had a regal air!
With due respect to John Bratby, one mural in Coronation Street eclipsed all others – and still remains one of the programme’s best-known features to this day.
It was, of course, Hilda Ogden’s panoramic mountain view which she fondly referred to as her ‘muriel.’
It covered a whole wall in the living room at Number 13. Stan Ogden thought it was the Canadian Rockies but Hilda was convinced it was the Alps!
It was pasted up in July 1976 when lodger Eddie Yeats (Geoffrey Hughes) ran out of cheap wallpaper and was forced to buy the mural as a job lot.
Hilda was hugely proud of her mountain vista and bragged about it to the neighbours. They remained diplomatic but unimpressed.
The mural was later adorned with three flying ducks from Elsie Tanner’s wall, although one was permanently pointing downwards in contrast to its companions.
Hilda was inconsolable when Stan fell asleep in the bath and flooded the mural. She tried to repair it herself but only made matters worse by tearing it.
Eventually Stan got himself out of the doghouse by replacing the lost work of art with a cliff-side seascape.
It lasted on the programme until December 1987 when the Websters moved into Number 13 and painted over it.
But it lingered much longer in real life as the Ogdens’ living room became a fixture of the Granada Studios tour in 1988.