Retro: Is this the real thing or is this just fantasy?

Coronation Street's Ena Sharples, actress Violet Carson, puts the washing in after opening a new laundrette in Lower Ince in 1967.

Coronation Street's Ena Sharples, actress Violet Carson, puts the washing in after opening a new laundrette in Lower Ince in 1967.

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I can’t believe how incredibly caring people are. It’s most heart-warming. After Maria Connor was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in Coronation Street, there was an immediate campaign launched on Twitter to ‘Free the Weatherfield One’

This was definitely a bit of déjà vu, as the same thing happened in 1998 when Deirdre Barlow was wrongfully convicted of fraud. In fact one fan was able to retrieve his protest T-shirt to wear again, and it’s not surprising that people got confused when the then Prime Minister Tony Blair mentioned it in the House of Commons.

I don’t think it was what Tony Warren envisaged when he wrote the first episode

Well there wasn’t much else happening in 1998. Posh and Becks got engaged and Bill Clinton denied any wrongdoing with Monica Lewinsky. That was about all.

It would seem that many people are unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction, certainly where television soap operas are concerned. Villains like Richard Hillman and Alan Bradley have often been chased down the street by umbrella- wielding old ladies while present story lines involving pregnancies have resulted in parcels of baby clothes arriving at the Coronation Street studios.

I’ve been a bit of a sucker for a soap opera over the years. When I was young it was The Grove Family and the Appleyard Family followed by EastEnders, Emmerdale Farm, Brookside, El Dorado and the ill-fated Albion Market which didn’t last long.

My daughter’s favourite was always Brookside and she was delighted when I took her into town to see Barry Grant open a shoe shop on Fargate.

That took me right back to the time that my mother took me to the opening of the Fine Fare supermarket at Firth Park, on the site of the old Paragon Cinema.

We watched in some puzzlement as Violet Carson cut the ribbon. As Ena Sharples in Coronation Street she always wore a hairnet and here she was with a posh hat on and lipstick.

Stars of the soaps were like royalty to some people with the ability to influence in the most unlikely places. Minnie Caldwell, (Margot Bryant) last seen in the Rovers Return snug, was responsible for the lifetime dieting of Cliff Richard, when she referred to him as ‘chubby’ in one episode.

Even though, let’s face it, although Corrie has never really been anything like real life, it’s been part of our lives.

We never question the fact that no one has ever had new windows or doors, or dormers in the roof space, surely a necessity when there are often so many people living under one roof, like Eileen’s, that the houses must be like a Tardis.

There can’t be many rows of terrace houses in the Manchester area that hasn’t had some attempt at aestheticism.

One of the problems I have is remembering who lives where, and who used to live there before they did. Probably an age thing.

And, come on, it must be one of the most dodgy places to live in the world, after Midsomer, anyway. There has been in excess of 150 deaths on the street, and hardly anyone who hasn’t seen the inside of a prison cell. Thirty three of the deaths have been due to heart attacks which is hardly surprising given the amount of beer, hotpots or kebabs consumed over the years.

Why do the staff at Underworld drink more in a lunchtime than they earn in a week? Where did David Platt acquire his hairdressing qualifications?

And where is Michelle’s son Alex, the one in the birth mix- up? The scriptwriters must think we’re not capable of remembering anything.

It’s probably not a good idea to think too deeply about any of the story ines and hard to be censorious about something we’ve loved for so long. And, in any case, just like real life, nothing lasts for ever either.

Poor old Ken, suffering a stroke and looking decidedly past his best, must think back to the days when he was the street’s Lothario, with four marriages and 27 relationships under his belt between 1960 and 2015 when the much-loved Deirdre died and for the first time ever he was on his own. Watch this space though.

A depressing aspect of it for me is, there don’t seem to be great characters any longer. Strong and glamorous women like Elsie Tanner, with Vera Duckworth, Hilda Ogden and Mavis Riley bringing both pathos and humour to their roles.

Reg Holdsworth, Jack Duckworth, Alf Roberts, Alec Gilroy and Fred Elliott, they were the lynchpins of the show.

Storylines do seem to be weak and ineffectual these days, although they do occasionally raise awareness of social issues like domestic violence, racial prejudice or gender.

Mostly though it’s all about feuds, killers and doom and gloom.

I don’t think it was what Tony Warren envisaged when he wrote the first episode, and without intending to sound like a prudish old person, which I’m not, although the old bit may be true, some of the present storylines could be difficult to explain to younger children. ‘Well, yes, he is a vicar.’

And so bunny boiler Maria is in prison. Well she’s not the first and she won’t be the last so don’t put your protest T-shirts away just yet.