Coro creator farewelled

Cast members past and present at funeral.
Young Coro male cast members were pallbearers. Photo / Getty Images
Young Coro male cast members were pallbearers. Photo / Getty Images

The Coronation Street cast paid their respects to the show's creator Tony Warren MBE yesterday.

The pioneering television legend - who created the nation's longest-running soap opera at the age of just 24 - was remembered at a public funeral held at Manchester Cathedral, attended by thousands of fans, family and friends.

A social media post encouraged all Corrie fans to attend.

Warren died aged 79 after a short illness and was laid to rest in front of the Corrie cast past and present.

He came up with the idea for Coronation Street, a drama based in Weatherfield, at the age of 24 and the first episode of the show aired on December 9, 1960.

Warren stopped writing fulltime for the soap in 1968, though he continued as an adviser on the series all his life.

The show progressed in Britain from two to five weekly episodes and is also screened in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Queen is said to be a huge fan.

John Whiston, Creative Director, Soaps for ITV Studios paid a moving tribute to Tony: "Amid the many and much deserved tributes to Tony Warren, surely there can be no greater tribute than that the show he created 56 years ago is still the number one show on British TV.

"Tony infused Coronation Street with his own spirit, one that was at the same time dramatic and credible, exciting and grounded, funny and humane.

"It is Tony's spirit that has kept the show fresh and relevant all these years."

Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes, paid tribute to Warren on This Morning.

"I live for Coronation Street. He has made a fantastic contribution to the country and has shaped and brought so much to television.

"He was very much a liked man and his was a happy story."

Warren was born Anthony Simpson and adopted his stage name as a child actor, performing on BBC Children's Hour and radio plays.

As a 23-year-old on a train journey in 1959 from London to Manchester, he told a BBC producer friend of his great concept for a TV series.

The producer dismissed the idea but Warren was undeterred. He talked his way into a job at Granada Studios as a hack writer of crime dramas and action thrillers.

His colleagues thought he was wasting his time, but producer Harry Elton knew he had a hit when, during a test screening on a TV set in his office, the cleaning lady was watching over his shoulder, unable to tear herself away from the telly.

Warren, who was gay, relished creating flamboyant and sassy characters. When the show started in December 1960, the legalisation of homosexuality was nearly seven years away.

He was never scared to tackle the most controversial scenes. But it was his willingness to depict the British class system that was Warren's real stroke of genius.

The first big storyline saw university student Ken Barlow struggling with his father, who thought a working-class lad had no business getting educated above his station.

He created such legendary characters as Stan Ogden (Bernard Youens), his wife Hilda (Jean Alexander) and the loveable Duckworths, Jack and Vera (William Tarmey and Elizabeth Dawn).

- Daily Mail

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