The astonishing story behind the difficult birth of Britain’s longest-running soap is revealed in Florizel Street, a one-off drama from ITV Studios, announced today as part of the BBC Four new season launch.
Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: “Florizel Street is a typically thought-provoking BBC Four commission. It pinpoints a significant moment when Britain emerged from the greyness of the Fifties, led by a resurgence of culture in the north of England. Only BBC Four would engage in popular culture in this way, recreating and exploring the history behind its birth and helping to understand why it went on to engage so many people.”
As Coronation Street reaches its 50th Anniversary, the drama will take viewers back to 1960. Tony Warren was a writer with a dream of bringing to screen characters from the Salford he knew and loved – the tart with the heart, the snob, the harridan in a hair net. The drama charts how Warren’s vision made it to the screen against fierce opposition from his bosses. It’s a story of boardroom battles and hopes dangled by threads. Northern actors and actresses, for so long resigned to working as background artistes, are for the first time given real characters and dialogue.
Florizel Street shows Granada Television’s workforce stand behind one of their own and how executives decide to take a gamble – but one thing needs changing – the show’s title. Florizel Street dies on the evening of 9 December 1960 as Coronation Street is born.
Legendary characters including Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Elsie Tanner (Pat Phoenix) and Doris Speed (Annie Walker) will be brought back to life, alongside the much-loved Ken Barlow (William Roache). Filming starts in the summer and casting is still to be confirmed.
Kieran Roberts, Executive Producer, ITV Studios, adds: “Russell Harty famously said ‘There was life before Coronation Street, but it didn’t add up to much’. Fifty years on from the first episode, Coronation Street remains a much-loved national treasure but the story of how the show was born – and how it very nearly didn’t make it on air – has never been told before. I’m thrilled that we’re going to bring this fascinating and heart-warming story to screen in Coronation Street’s 50th anniversary year.”