Coronation Street 1962 – part2
While developing his autobiography John Finch recalled how the worlds longest running drama nearly ended in its early years.
This is a Blog in 2 parts: Part 2
It was two o’clock in the morning. The building that housed what has since been christened as the headquarters of Granadaland cast its dark shape against the night sky. A few lights were on where the security staff had their office, but apart from a single lit window on the fourth floor there were no signs of what in the daytime was furious activity.
Two men were seated at a desk on the fourth floor office. One was Harry Driver, a Mancunion freelance writer, the other was me. The building was silent, as were the streets around it. I was there as temporary editor of Granada’s serial, Coronation Street. Harry was the programmes story editor. The strike, called by the actor’s union, Equity, was in its fifth month. As the weeks went by various characters disappeared, never to be seen again. At this point in time fourteen characters remained. Coronation Street was the only ITV drama to stay on the nation’s screens. It was the job of Driver and myself, as regular members of the script team, to find stories, at short notice, for the shrinking cast. The reason we were working so late is that the situation was becoming increasingly serious and, at weekends, executives vanished on the train to London where most of them lived. Harry normally worked with Vince Powell, but Vince was taking a well deserved break.
The silences grew longer between the two of us as the cast shrank . At the end of one particularly long silence Harry suddenly said, “Now we know how long a long running series runs for.”
There was a terminal quality about the statement. Harry was not a quitter. Dead from the neck down,as a result of polio, he had been known to use a knitting needle between his teeth to write the television comedy series on which he depended for a living. Tired, in silence we gathered our scribbled foolscap pages together and prepared to leave the office.
I lugged him into his wheelchair and we set off in silence to where I had left my car. The light of what became Greater |Manchester flickered in the vast exterior darkness.
“I hope they appreciate that we are doing our damnest,” said Harry.
The next day Equity lifted the strike. There were other strikes in the Street’s long history but this is the one I never forgot.