Corrie at 60: Some of the beloved soap’s most memorable characters

Coronation Street, which marks its 60th anniversary this week, has produced some of television’s most memorable characters.

From the ever-present Ken Barlow to the acid-tongued Blanche Hunt, the soap is known for its colourful creations.

To mark the anniversary, the PA news agency takes a walk down (a cobbled) memory lane and looks at some of Corrie’s most enduring characters.

Ken Barlow

Ken Barlow
William Roache has played Ken Barlow on Coronation Street since the show’s beginning (PA)

The only character to have been on Corrie since day one, actor William Roache holds the record for longest-serving star in a televised soap opera.

During his 60 years on the cobbles, Ken has sometimes had a reputation for being a bore – but his storylines suggest otherwise.

He has had a myriad of relationships, including marriages to Valerie Tatlock, Janet Reid and Deirdre Langton.

Ena Sharples

Ena Sharples
Ena Sharples (Violet Carson) is widely seen as one of the soap’s greatest characters (PA)

Ena, played by Violet Carson, was the original Corrie battle-axe and made her debut in the first episode.

She was the caretaker of the Glad Tidings Mission Hall, before it was demolished, and patrolled the street in her distinctive uniform of a hairnet and large double-breasted coat.

The character’s final appearance came in 1980. Carson died in 1983 at the aged of 85.

Elsie Tanner

Street of Dreams
Actress Pat Phoenix as Elsie Tanner, one of the show’s early sex symbols (ITV/PA)

The original street siren and one of British TV’s first sex symbols was played by Pat Phoenix.

Another Corrie original, Elsie’s striking red hair, daring (for the time) outfits and razor-sharp tongue brought some glamour to the cobbles.

She had two children, Linda and Dennis, and clashed with some of Corrie’s more buttoned-up characters – including Ena.

Fred Elliott

John Savident
John Savident memorably played Fred Elliott, known for his tendency to say things twice (Joel Ryan/PA)

The butcher who said everything twice. Played by John Savident, Fred arrived in 1994 and quickly became a fan favourite, known for his bald head and booming voice.

His disastrous love life rivalled any other on the street and his three marriages only told part of the story. Fred got down on one knee several times, only to be told “no”.

Fred had a secret son, Ashley Peacock, and the two later developed a close bond. Fred was killed off in 2006, suffering a stroke on the day he was supposed to marry Bev Unwin.

Blanche Hunt

Coronation Street’s best-loved character
The late Maggie Jones played battle-axe Blanche Hunt (Neil Marland/ITV)

Even in Corrie’s illustrious comedic history, acid-tongued pensioner Blanche arguably stands alone as the street’s funniest character. Deidre’s mother saved her best one-liners for her daughter and son-in-law, Ken.

“Good looks are a curse, Deirdre,” Blanche once said. “You and Kenneth should count yourselves lucky.”

Blanche was played by Maggie Jones until shortly before her death aged 75 in 2009.

Roy Cropper

Hayley and Roy Cropper
The final scenes between Roy and Hayley Cropper, played by David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh, were praised by fans and critics (ITV/PA)

If Blanche gave Corrie’s writers an outlet for some of their meanest lines, then Roy, played by David Neilson, offered room for them to inject some kindness into the soap.

He arrived in 1995 and developed into a lovable eccentric, finding love with Hayley, who was transgender.

Viewers were heartbroken in 2013 when Hayley was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and her final episode in January the next year, in which she took her own life, was hailed for its sensitivity.

Vera Duckworth

Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn
Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey, who played Vera and Jack Duckworth, one of the great Corrie couples (ITV/PA)

Vera arrived on the cobbles as a factory worker in 1974 and alongside long-suffering husband Jack became one of Corrie’s most beloved characters.

Vera, played by Liz Dawn, left in 2008 at the actress’s request. She died peacefully in her armchair in an episode seen by more than 12 million viewers.

Dawn made a one-off appearance as Vera’s ghost in 2010 for the final scenes of Bill Tarmey, who played Jack. Dawn died in 2017 aged 77.