It's voting day in the UK's General Election. I've been out and voted today already - have you?
No matter who you voted for, it's time to look back at some of those in Coronation Street who have stood for election, won and lost the people's vote.
With thanks to our blogger Llifon for his smashing P is for Politics post as part of our Coronation Street A-Z. You can see them all here!
P is for Politics: By Llifon Jones
Although Corrie has often avoided real politics in its script, mainly because it wouldn’t be current due to episodes being filmed weeks ahead of broadcast, it has had included politics in some of its storylines and we often get a glimpse of the political stance of certain characters.
Many characters have involved themselves in local politics. We mentioned Alf Roberts previously, and he is the most prominent local politician. A long serving councillor and twice-elected mayor, Alf was given an OBE by the Queen in 1995 for his services to the community. Alf was an independent councillor and during his 1991 election campaign, his posters wrongly called him ‘The People’s Fiend’ instead of friend. He was a mayor in 1973 and 1994. His first mayoress was Annie Walker, although she was only given the post after Maggie Clegg refused. When he was chosen in 1994, wife Audrey was his mayoress. But when she abused the mayoral privileges, Alf sacked her and offered the post to Rita Sullivan. When Audrey heard this she threatened to spread rumours that Alf and Rita were lovers. Alf then opted for Betty Turpin, despite Bet Gilroy hoping she’d be chosen. The council showed their appreciation of Alf’s contribution when they chose him to be responsible for the millennium celebrations in 1997 and he was nicknamed ‘Mr Millennium’. In 1998, Alf resigned from the council so he could concentrate on the millennium preparations. But in 1999 he passed away before the arrival of the millennium.
As well as Alf, other characters have involved themselves in political life. Between 1966 and 1978, Len Fairclough was a councillor and beat Annie Walker to the post in 1966. Alf and Len were best mates and their friendship was tested when they both contested for the role of mayor in 1973. Alf won and offered Len the role of deputy mayor. Len’s time as councillor ended when he was forced to resign after he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Despite not having won the 1966 election, Annie Walker was in her element as Alf’s mayoress and indulged in the privileges of the job.
In the 1987 election, Alf was challenged by Deirdre Barlow, after she was urged by hubby Ken to stand so to split the vote. But to Ken’s amazement, Deirdre beat Alf. Suddenly, the Barlows became a high-powered couple – him a newspaper editor and she a councillor. Ken and Deirdre split up after his affair with Wendy Crozier (who also worked at the council and leaked stories to Ken) in 1990 and in 1991 Deirdre lost her seat to Alf, who’d been encouraged by Alec Gilroy to stand again. Ken had supported Deirdre in the 1991 election and clashed with Alf when he put a ‘Vote Deirdre’ in the corner shop flat where he lived after being thrown out by Deirdre. As well as being a councillor, Deirdre worked at the council in administration for over ten years from the late 1990s.
When Alf resigned from the council in 1998, thus began a battle of who was going to fill the empty seat. His wife Audrey stood against eco-warrior Spider Nugent and won the seat. During her time as councillor she was elected mayor in 2000 and got the chance to meet HRH Prince Charles, the Prince Charles and enjoyed gloating about it. In 2001, due to best friend Alma’s illness, Audrey backed out of being re-elected and let Curly Watts win the vote. Curly remained at the council until he left Weatherfield for Newcastle in 2003.
Politics has also entered other characters’ storylines in different ways. The future of Coronation Street was in the balance in 1974 and many of the residents opposed the council’s decision to demolish the place. And many were disgruntled when they heard that Alf and Len knew about it and didn’t say anything. Timid Emily Bishop threw a brick through Len’s window in protest. The street was eventually saved. Then a few decades later, the council thought of renaming the street ‘Alf Roberts Wynd’ in honour of Alf, but yet again the residents opposed. In 2004, the council planned to erect a fountain in memory of Alf, but Emily, Betty, Rita, Norris and Blanche held a protest against it, much to Audrey’s chagrin.
As for political stances, the most prominent has to be Ken Barlow who is a staunch Liberal who reads ‘The Guardian’. Ironically, William Roache, who plays him, is a staunch Tory! During the 1970s you often saw Ken, Ernest Bishop and Annie Walker discussing the politics of the day with references being given to Jim Callaghan, Harold Wilson, Denis Healey and Margaret Thatcher. And Mrs Thatcher, Tony Blair and Ed Miliband have visited the Corrie set over the years.
Can you think of any other political links? Do you think Corrie should have a political storyline – a threat to close the hospital maybe? Or maybe a character becomes a councillor?
Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter