When Morrissey wrote a script for Coronation Street

13 December 2020, 12:00

Morrissey in 1985 and the current Coronation Street set
Morrissey in 1985 and the current Coronation Street set. Picture: Sheila Rock/Shutterstock/Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images

How the Smiths frontman made a bid for TV stardom... and how the Manchester band have crossed paths with the Manchester soap.

Coronation Street has taken the crown as the longest running TV soap opera in the world.

On 9 December 2020, the Manchester-based show marked its 60 anniversary, which led Radio X to ponder the story of how one of the programme's most famous fans tried to get his name in the credits.

Steven Patrick Morrissey was a keen fan of Coronation Street, having been born the year before the show started. He even met some of the cast in the early 1970s while hanging around Granada Studios in the City centre.

Two of Morrissey's Coronation St heroines on set in 1980: Violet Carson as Ena Sharples and Pat Phoenix as Elsie Tanner
Two of Morrissey's Coronation St heroines on set in 1980: Violet Carson as Ena Sharples and Pat Phoenix as Elsie Tanner. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

So when the budding writer was looking for projects that would bring fame to the Morrissey name, a script idea for Coronation Street seemed like the ideal opportunity.

Morrissey wrote in his book Autobiography that he pitched an idea to one of the main scriptwriters of the soap, Leslie Duxbury. The former sports journalist created plots for the Street from 1966 and into the 70s.

According to Morrissey, “I write to Leslie Duxbury at Granada TV, helpfully explaining how the twice-weekly crawl through northern morals needed a new knight of the pen.

"I am invited to submit a script, and I whip off a word-slinger's delight wherein young take on old as a jukebox is tested in the Rovers Return."

Morrissey hanging around a ginnel (alleyway) in 1984
Morrissey hanging around a ginnel (alleyway) in 1984. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images

The future lead singer of The Smiths went on to explain how the kitchen sink drama would end with one of the major characters of the soap summing up all the fuss - one Ena Sharples, the hair-netted harridan of Salford, played by Violet Carson.

"Swords cross, heads bump and horns lock," went on Morrissey. "And the episode fades with Violet Carson addressing the camera, one eyebrow arched, with, ‘Do I really look like a fan of X-Ray Spex?'"

But viewers were to be denied the spectacle of the Rovers being blasted by the raucous sounds of the London punk band, sadly.

His Mozness related that the response from the Coronation Street office was not favourable. He noted: "Leslie Duxbury assures me that my talents lie elsewhere."

Salford Lads Club, situated on a REAL Coronation Street in Salford
Salford Lads Club, situated on a REAL Coronation Street in Salford. Picture: Simon Buckley/Shutterstock

Morrissey had to wait until February 1983 when the wider world became aware of his talents, with the release of the first single by The Smiths, Hand In Glove.

However, the band still kept up that Coronation Street connection. The cover of the Smiths single Shakespeare's Sister features a portrait of actress Pat Phoenix, who played the long-running character Elsie Tanner.

And, if you look in the gatefold sleeve of The Queen Is Dead, you'll see the four members of The Smiths stood outside Salford Lads' Club, a building which sits at the end of a very real Coronation Street situated on the edge of the Orsdall area.

Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander aka Stan and Hild Ogden visit Archie Street shortly before it was demolished in August 1971. Archie Street was the basis for the fictional Coronation Street.
Bernard Youens and Jean Alexander aka Stan and Hild Ogden visit Archie Street shortly before it was demolished in August 1971. Archie Street was the basis for the fictional Coronation Street. Picture: Alfred Markey/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

In fact, about half a mile away from Salford Lads' Club there used to be an Archie Street, which was demolished in the early 1970s to make way for a new housing scheme. This particular little set of terraced homes with a shop at one end was the inspiration for television's Coronation Street... and even stood in for its fictional counterpart in the opening titles of the show.

As for Morrissey's bid for soap fame, well it finally came at in 1988 following the split of The Smiths. Our hero made a cameo in the series South, which was a spin-off of Liverpool soap Brookside. Gaze on in amazement.