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Coronation Street: The biggest shocks and saddest moments as soap turns 60

It’s the world’s longest-running soap, and this week Coronation Street is marking its 60th anniversary with some typically nail-biting storylines.

Viewers will see the conclusion of Yasmeen Nazir’s trial for the attempted murder of controlling husband Geoff Metcalfe, as well as a final showdown between property developer Ray Crosby and the Corrie residents opposed to his plans to bulldoze the street.

Of course, these events follow hundreds of sad, funny, shocking and groundbreaking stories – from affairs and serial killers to epic punch-ups and the birth of quadruplets – that have gripped viewers since the first episode aired on 9 December 1960.

In total, the ITV soap has seen 57 births, 132 weddings and 146 deaths – quite a lot for one street.

So, without further ado: Happy Birthday, Corrie! Here are some of your best bits.

Richard Hillman meets a watery end

Coronation Street serial killer Richard Hillman met a watery death after kidnapping Gail Platt and her children. Pic: ITV

As soap serial killers go, leather-gloved rubbish businessman Richard Hillman is up there among the most memorable.

In 2003, he tried to bump off pensioner Emily Bishop to get his hands on her house – but messed it up and ended up offing young mum Maxine Peacock instead.

His body count also included an ex-wife and former business partner, while the climax of his reign of terror resulted in his now infamous drive into a canal, with previously unsuspecting wife Gail and her terrified children David and Sarah-Louise trapped in the car. The stuff of soap nightmares.

The tram crash

Coronation Street marked its 50th anniversary with a huge tram crash and a live episode in 2010. Pic: ITV

When Corrie wanted to mark its 50th anniversary back in 2010, it decided to not only feature the aftermath of one of the biggest disasters in soap history, but to do it live.

The famous tram crash killed off the much loved Ashley Peacock and the not quite so loved Molly Dobbs, who revealed her affair – and the real paternity of her baby son – to Sally Webster in her dying breaths. (Late spoiler alert: Sally’s then husband Kevin was the daddy.)

Elsewhere, Fiz Stape gave birth and Peter Barlow and Leanne Battersby had an emergency wedding – hence the tagline Four Funerals And A Wedding.

The other unlucky victims were an unnamed taxi driver and a woman who was actually murdered by Fiz’s husband, John Stape, who used the crash to cover it up.

A busy night, even by soap standards.

Alan Bradley gets his comeuppance

Alan Bradley tracks Rita Fairclough to Blackpool and is hit and killed by a tram. Pic: ITV

Of course, the soap’s 50th anniversary wasn’t the first time a tram did some serious damage.

However, back in 1989, viewers were more than happy to see the dastardly Alan Bradley killed off.

Alan had been abusing cobbles treasure Rita, so clearly deserved it when he was run over by a tram in Blackpool – a rare venture outside of Weatherfield for the soap.

The Ken-Deirdre-Mike love triangle

Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs), Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) and Ken Barlow (Bill Roache) in Coronation Street in 1983. Pic: ITV

If those Corrie cobbles could talk, they would tell you about the affairs. This street has seen a lot of adulterous action.

But Deirdre Barlow cheating on Ken with Mike Baldwin brought Team Jen v Team Angie levels of division back in 1983, and started a decades-long feud between the two men.

Ken and Deirdre did reconcile – her decision to stay even made it on to a Manchester United scoreboard at half time – although they were off and on again throughout the years.

And Mike went on to marry Ken’s daughter, Susan, which understandably didn’t go down too well with Ken, either.

Actors William Roache and Johnny Briggs reportedly became dab hands at on-screen fist fights over the years.

Free the Weatherfield One!

Deirdre Barlow was jailed for fraud in Coronation Street in 1998, leading to the Free The Weatherfield One campaign. Pic: ITV

Speaking of Deirdre, remember when she was wrongly imprisoned in 1998 due to some financial fraud shenanigans orchestrated by her wrong ‘un boyfriend John Lindsay? (She and Ken must have been on a break. A long one, it seems, as she was actually Deirdre Rachid at this point. Anyway…)

There were posters! T-Shirts! And Tony Blair got involved! Sort of. You’ll be pleased to know she got out. Phew!

Sarah Platt pregnant at 13

Sarah Platt finds out she is pregnant at 13 in Coronation Street. Pic: ITV

Schoolgirl mums are fairly common in soapland nowadays, but this storyline involving Sarah Platt (a few years before her almost drowning, she really has had it tough) was a real shocker back in 2000.

She found out she was pregnant not long after her 13th birthday – needless to say, Gail was not best pleased.

Daughter Bethany has had her own fair share of difficulties, too, notably being involved in a grooming storyline in 2017.

Hayley’s trans storyline

.'Coronation Street' TV - Hayley Cropper [Julie Hesmondhalgh], Roy Cropper [David Neilson], Jessica Lundy [Olwen May]. PIC ITV

Hayley Cropper, the first trans character in a British soap, arrived in Weatherfield in 1998.

She became a firm favourite with fans thanks to her relationship with Roy, and actress Julie Hesmondhalgh went on to win several soap and TV awards for her portrayal of the character.

When Hayley took her own life in 2014, with Roy by her side in a controversial right-to-die storyline while she was suffering from cancer, it was up there among the soap’s biggest tearjerkers.

Who killed Tina?

Michelle Keegan as Tina McIntyre, whose murder was the subject of a whodunnit plot in Coronation Street in 2014

A soap isn’t a soap without a good whodunnit storyline or 10 on its CV, and the death of Tina McIntyre was a biggie back in 2014.

Peter Barlow (who she’d been having an affair with), his wife Carla (not happy), sister Tracy (never happy) and Carla’s brother/Tracy’s boyfriend Rob Donovan (dodgy; also not happy) were all in the frame after she was found fallen from a balcony and bludgeoned to death in the street.

Innocent (of murder, at least) lothario Peter was sentenced for the crime but it actually turned out to be Rob, who in the end confessed to Carla as he was due to marry Tracy, who dobbed him in. In the end.

Gemma has quadruplets

Gemma and Chesney look after their quads in Coronation Street. Pic: ITV

Why have one baby when you can have four?

Loveable Gemma and dad Chesney welcomed the Street’s first quadruplets, Aled, Bryn, Llio and Carys – or “The Freshco Four” – in 2019, making up 7% of all the soap’s births in one go.

Aidan’s suicide

Aidan Connor and Carla Connor in Coronation Street. Pic: ITV

In 2018, Corrie was praised for its sensitive portrayal of suicide and raising awareness of mental health issues.

Aidan Connor had been suffering but his family and friends were unaware of his struggles, and his death came as a huge shock.

No element of the suicide was shown on screen, but rather his family’s reaction to the tragedy.

Actor Shayne Ward said many people got in touch with him after the scenes aired, while The Samaritans said the storyline was important to get people talking about depression and mental health problems.

Pretty much any scene with Karen and Tracy

Karen and Tracy fight in Coronation Street as Liz and Steve McDonald look on. Pic: ITV

The feud between soap queens Karen McDonald and Tracy Barlow made for some of the best Corrie moments during Karen’s time on the cobbles from 2000 to 2004.

Hair was pulled, punches were thrown, weddings were crashed. Oh and Karen’s husband Steve discovered he was the father of Tracy’s baby, Amy, at the altar, and later Karen pretended Amy was dead. You know, the usual.

As any Corrie fan will know, you could dedicate a whole list to Tracy and her wicked ways, but despite everything she still ended up marrying Steve. More than once.

Becky gets her happy ending

Becky says goodbye to Steve and leaves Coronation Street for good in 2012. Pic: ITV

Another ex-wife of Steve McDonald (there’s been a few), Becky arrived as a bit of a troublemaker but soon won people over and became a firm Corrie favourite.

Like Karen before her, she struggled with conceiving and also found herself making enemies of Tracy.

After lying Tracy convinced Steve that Becky had caused her to have a miscarriage, Becky was eventually able to prove the truth – waiting until just after Steve had married Tracy.

Then, she jetted off to Barbados with a hunky new man, with Steve very much regretting not believing her.

And finally… happy anniversary, Ken!

Bill Roache (right) has starred as Ken Barlow since Coronation Street's first episode in December 1960. Pic: ITV

A Corrie best of isn’t a Corrie best of without a shout out to Ken Barlow, only the longest-serving soap character ever.

Actor William Roache has played Ken since the very first episode back in December 1960, and has appeared in a total of 4,634 shows altogether. So this isn’t just a 60th for the Street, it’s a 60th for Ken, too.

“Most people don’t get to live another life like that,” Roache has said of his character.

“Ken is more than just a part that I play. He is another being, like a close friend that I inhabit and work with. Very few people have ever done that.

“I’m very fortunate that Ken wasn’t some horrible vicious serial killer or someone you wouldn’t be too happy to play. He has been a guy who is trying to keep peace with his dysfunctional family. That I love and like.

“So I am very much in tune with what he is and what he does even though we are different types of people.”

Coronation Street turns 60 on 9 December 2020

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