On May 28, Royal Mail issued a set of stamps celebrating the 60th anniversary of the soap opera Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running television drama series.

Eight counter sheet stamps feature pairs of the show’s best-loved characters, from the early years to the present day, with each photographic image complemented by a quote capturing the essence of their relationship.

A miniature sheet of four stamps focuses on barmaids who have worked at the Rovers Return pub, the hub of the community.

Created by Tony Warren and first broadcast (live) by ITV on December 9, 1960, Coronation Street concerns the everyday lives of the inhabitants of a backstreet in Weatherfield, a fictional northern town. Filmed in Manchester, it is renowned for the authenticity of its characters, its gritty storylines and trademark wit.

Generally aired between twice and four times a week (sometimes more), the show has now totted up more than 10,000 episodes. For most of its existence, it has been among the top 10 most watched television programmes in Britain.

Designed by The Chase, from television stills and promotional photographs, the issue was printed in litho by International Security Printers. The counter sheets of 60, divided into two panes of 30, yield horizontal se-tenant pairs.

 

2nd class Ena Sharples and Elsie Tanner

Two characters famous for their bust-ups argue in the street. Ena Sharples was played by Violet Carson from 1960-80, and Elsie Tanner by Pat Phoenix from 1960-84.

2nd class Stan and Hilda Ogden

Temperamental busybody Hilda Ogden, played by Jean Alexander from 1964-87, remained loyal to her drink-loving husband Stan, played by Bernard Youens from 1964-84.

1st class Vera and Jack Duckworth

Vera Duckworth, played by Liz Dawn from 1976-2008, endured a rocky marriage with her husband Jack, played by Bill Tarney from 1983-2010.

1st class Deirdre and Ken Barlow

Ken Barlow, played by William Roache, has been an ever-present character since 1960, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records. His marriage to Deirdre, played by Anne Kirkbride from 1972-2014, survived the soap’s most famous extra-marital affair in the 1980s.

£1.42 Rita Sullivan and Norris Cole

Rita Sullivan, played by Barbara Knox from 1964 to date, and Norris Cole, played by Malcolm Hebden from 1994-2020, are shown gossiping in The Kabin, the street’s newsagent and one-time sub-post office.

£1.42 Hayley and Roy Cropper

Roy Cropper, played by David Neilson from 1995 to date, was married to Hayley, played by Julie Hesmondheigh from 1998-2014, who was the first transgender character in a British soap opera.

£1.63 Sunita and Dev Alahan

Dev Alahan, played by Jimmi Karkishin from 1999 to date, got married to Sunita, played by Shobna Gulati from 2001-13, in 2004, but it turned out to be one of the series’ many troubled marriages.

£1.63 Tracy Barlow and Steve McDonald

Tracy Barlow, born during an episode broadcast in 1977 and played by Kate Ford since 2002, was one of a string of failed relationships suffered by Steve McDonald, played by Simon Gregson since 1989.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class Bet

Bet Lynch, played by Julie Goodyear from 1966-2003, was the raunchy, flirtatious but vulnerable manager of the Rovers Return from 1985.

1st class Raquel

Raquel Watts, played by Sarah Lancashire from 1991-2000, was a barmaid with pretentions to be a glamour model, described as having short skirts and big hair, but also a big heart.

£1.42 Liz

Liz McDonald, played by Beverley Callard from 1989-2020, is known for her many feuds as much as for her failed romances.

£1.42 Gemma

Gemma Winter, played by Dolly-Rose Campbell since 2014, is the lovable rogue who started working as a barmaid in 2018 and is currently adjusting to life as a mother of quadruplets.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

The presentation pack, written by Abigail Kemp, takes its inspiration from the show’s official newspaper, the Weatherfield Gazette, in reflecting on popular characters and storylines throughout the years.

Stamp cards and first day covers are available, along with a press sheet of 10 uncut miniature sheets.

 

PRICES

Set of 8 stamps   £8.92

Miniature sheet   £4.36

Press sheet   £47.96

Presentation pack   £14.20

Stamp cards   £5.85

First day cover (stamps)   £11.35

First day cover (mini sheet)   £5.90

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   3/5

Although Royal Mail’s penchant for fictional characters can be grating, Coronation Street is a record-breaking production.

QUALITY OF DESIGN 2/5

Focusing on relationships between pairs of characters seems appropriate for a soap opera.

WOW FACTOR   1/5

The programme has many devoted viewers, but no-one else will be much interested.