As part of award winning Manchester pub The Lass O’Gowrie’s Lassfest, three episodes of Coronation Street, written by Jack Rosenthal, and unseen since their original transmission in 1968 have been recast, and will be performed in the award winning Lass O’Gowrie on Charles Street in Manchester this week.
I was treated to a sneak preview of Thursday”s episode ‘The Ogdens’ where Stan treats Hilda to a slap up Chinese meal. But in true Corrie fashion, it doesn’t exactly go as Hilda had planned..
As Co-Producer Gareth Kavanagh commented, these episodes hark back to a time when Coronation Street was simply broadcasting ordinary stories about ordinary people. Unlike the current incarnation, it doesn’t need to rely on spectacle or serial killers, rather Rosenthal and his contemporaries relied on comedy and character for entertainment.
Certainly in this script, both are plentiful. A superb cast has been assembled by June West, a former casting director for Coronation Street. You may think that no-one could replace such legendary characters as Ena Sharples and Annie Walker, but not only do the cast of Corrie 1968 manage to slip effortlessly into these roles, they also make them their own.
Russell Dixon steals the show as Ena Sharples, Ena’s spat with Val Tagger’s Minnie Caldwell being one of the highlights of the episode. Dave Dutton’s Jack Walker is well and truly (and comically) under the thumb of Christine Barton-Brown’s Annie Walker, who got a tremendous round of applause on displaying the character’s trademark snootiness.
Of course, being about them, the Ogden’s take centre stage towards the end of the episode. John Draycott’s Stan being perfectly pitched, and Joan Kempson’s Hilda Ogden completely nailing the character – even down to Hilda’s trademark giggle.
Harking back to a more innocent age, the delivery of the episode feels natural, and you can connect with the characters and situations much more so than with some of the situations in Coronation Street’s current form. Thoroughly entertaining with a talented cast and ending with a well-deserved standing ovation, one can only hope that isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Corrie: 1968 cast, and that there are more treats to come.
As well as ‘The Ogdens’, you can see both episodes of ‘The Wedding of Dennis Tanner’ this Monday, Tuesday and Sunday. Only on, for one week only from Monday-Thursday and through to Sunday’s inspired omnibus editions, any fan of Coronation Street, or quality theatre, would be well advised to go and see this unique event.
For more information and to book, go to www.lassfest.co.uk