Six years ago Coronation Street matriarch Liz Dawn complained that the Granada TV series had lost its funny bone.
The actress, who had portrayed Vera Duckworth for 34 years, blamed the lack of humour for the much-loved programme missing out on a BAFTA award nomination for the first time in years.
It was all too serious, she said, with hard-hitting plots and story-lines muscling out the show’s trademark merriment and mirth.
Now, actress Sally Dynevor, who plays long-standing character Sally Webster, has repeated the charge saying the show needs a mixture of light and dark.
To help restore the balance, Nostalgia remembers some of the Street’s classic comic moments over the years – ranging from Reg Holdsworth’s burst water bed to hash cakes mistakenly sold over the counter at Roy’s Rolls.
Some of Corrie’s favourite comic plots have involved Liz Dawn herself and on-screen husband Jack Duckworth, played to perfection by Bill Tarmey.
In 1983, the pair hilariously faced off when Jack signed up for a dating agency posing as Vince St Clair. Barmaid Bet Lunch (Julie Goodyear) cottoned on and tipped off her pal Vera.
Vera then joined the same agency posing as widow Carole Munroe and arranged a date with Jack.
The result was pure TV gold. Jack exclaimed: ‘You’re no flamin’ widow!’ while Vera clouted him with her handbag replying: ‘No! But I will be after ten minutes when I get you home!’
The Duckworths were at it again in 1998 when an inheritance allowed them to buy the lease for the Rovers Return.
Of course, being the Duckworths, the pair soon ran into financial problems allowing former landlord Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough) to snatch the pub back from them.
The Duckworths barricaded themselves in and refused to come out, being supplied with food and drink from a ladder to the upstairs window!
The pub dispute was eventually settled, but not before a barrel of laughs along the way.
Romantic encounters have always been a recipe for humour on the Street – as manic supermarket manager Reg Holdsworth (Ken Morley) found out to his cost in 1991.
He met former girlfriend Maureen Webster (Sherrie Hewson) in the shop and enticed her back to his bachelor pad where he proudly displayed his new water bed.
The couple’s ardour was seriously dampened when the water bed burst and soaked the pair of them!
Les Battersby’s plans for a romantic night in with wife Janice (Vicky Entwistle) were well and truly scuppered a few moments after they climbed into their new hot tub in 2004.
The Hawaiian-themed night, complete with pizza and pineapple chunks, was ruined when Great Dane Schmeichel smelled the food bounded up the stairs to join them.
The huge dog jumped in the hot tub with them and the extra weight proved too much for the ceiling to bear. The whole lot – bath, Battersbys and canine – came crashing down to the room below!
Before Jack and Vera, it was Hilda and Stan Ogden who provided many of the Street’s funniest moments. Some of the best came when Hilda (Jean Alexander) developed pretentions to be an artist.
She persuaded Stan (Bernard Youens) to a hang a huge mural – or muriel as she put it – along one wall complete with three flying porcelain ducks for good measure!
Hilda even tried painting herself – with hilarious results!
Mavis Wilton, played by Thelma Barlow, was one of Corrie’s enduring comic characters. Frequently impersonated for her catchphrase ‘Ooh, I don’t really know’, she formed a formidable double act with on-screen husband Derek (Peter Baldwin).
One of their best storylines occurred in 1995 when their garden gnomes were kidnapped and taken around the world. Photos of the garden ornaments in exotic locations were regularly sent back along with ransom notes.
Real comedians sometimes cropped up on the Street. Roy Hudd played undertaker Archie Shuttleworth, who wooed both Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) and Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls), and Bolton comic Peter Kay appeared as drayman Eric Gartside.
Audrey’s husband Alf (Bryan Mosley) provided some prime comic moments when he defended his council seat against Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) in 1987.
And Blanche’s acerbic wit combined with the brilliant timing of Malcolm Hebden as Norris Cole created some of Corrie’s most waspish dialogue as the two gossiped together.
In 2014, Norris along with Mary Taylor (Patti Clare) and Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) unwittingly ate some hash cakes from Roy’s Rolls and became hilariously high without realising it!
A truly memorable comic moment.
Many more unmissable pictures and memories of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Manchester in the 1970s – on sale at a reduced price for M.E.N. readers.
Just check out our online shop for more details or ring 01928 503777 to place your order.