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50 things you never knew about The Street ... as show's stars prepare for live special

Coronation Street will mark its landmark 50th anniversary tonight with an hour-long live episode -- featuring death, destruction and further misery in the aftermath of the tram horror.

Here, we take a look at some fascinating facts about the much-loved soap.

1 Let's get the name straight: only fans call the show Corrie. For the actors it has always been the Street.

2 "A fascinating freemasonry, a volume of unwritten rules. These are the driving forces behind life in a working-class street in the North of England. The purpose of Florizel Street is to examine a community of this nature, and to entertain." This was the memo sent to Granada chief Cecil Bernstein suggesting a new drama serial.

3 Florizel Street was ditched as a name when someone said they thought Florizel sounded like a disinfectant.

4 Tony Warren, who dreamt up the serial, has said that only a gay man could have created Coronation Street.

5 Ena Sharples was modelled on Warren's grandmother.

6 Warren later fell out with ITV and his name was removed from the credits. It's back now.

7 Deaths outnumber births by almost three-to-one: 114 to 39.

8 Only seven episodes had passed before the first death -- May Hardman, who lived at No 13.

9 There have been twice as many murders (14) as suicides.

10 The first Coronation Street baby was Elsie Tanner's grandson in June 1961.

11 There have been about two weddings a year: 88 in all.

12 Gail McIntyre (Helen Worth) has been the bride at five of them.

13 Gail lost her virginity in the stockroom at Sylvia's Separates.

14 Only Ken Barlow (Bill Roache) survives from the very first episode.

15 Ken uttered the show's first expletive, saying "bloody" in 1961.

16 Ken's son Peter has been played by seven actors. One of them was the act-or's own son Linus.

17 Another was David Lonsdale, better known as Heartbeat's village idiot, David Stockwell.

18 There have been 51 barmaids at the Rovers.

19 Betty's hotpot is justly famous, but in real life Betty Driver can't cook.

20 After Roache, Eileen Derbyshire (Emily Bishop) is the longest-serving cast member.

21 Emily lost her virginity to a Hungarian demolition expert.

22 Tonight's live episode will be the 7,487th.

23 The most-watched episode, by 26.6 million, was the one on Christmas Day 1987 in which Hilda Ogden left.

24 The show has been exported to more than 40 countries.

25 Some actors contribute their own props. Roy Cropper's shopping bag used to belong to actor David Neilson's mum.

26 Celebrity fans included Sir John Betjeman, who likened it to Dickens's The Pickwick Papers.

27 For Cheryl Cole it is part of what "makes me tick" along with her family and her dogs.

28 Cilla Black recalls watching the inaugural episode. Her dad was in the front room mending a puncture on his bike at the time.

29 Cliff Richard gave up lunch for ever in 1964 after he was shocked to hear Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) referring to him as "chubby".

30 Including Minnie's beloved cat, Bobby, there have been 50 pets.

31 Joanna Lumley played Ken Barlow's girlfriend Elaine Perkins, in 1973.

32 Rob James-Collier, who played Liam Connor is now more celebrated as Downton Abbey's scheming footman, Thomas.

33 Kym Marsh, who plays Michelle Connor, was formerly a singer in Hear'say.

35 The famous theme tune was written by Eric Spear who was paid £6.

35 November 3, 1969, was a momentous day: the first colour episode.

36 Alfred Hitchcock visited the set once. So did Dustin Hoffman.

37 No fewer than five couples have married each other twice.

38 Originally, the serial aired twice a week. A third weekly episode was added in 1989, a fourth in 1996 and a fifth in 2002.

39 Notable writers have included Jack "Bar Mitzvah Boy" Rosenthal, Paul "Shameless" Abbot, and Jimmy "Cracker" McGovern.

40 Notable directors have included Mike "Harry Potter" Newell.

41 Twice there have been episodes featuring just two characters: Curly and Raquel Watts, in 2000, and Tracy and Deirdre Barlow, in 2007.

42 The late father of Sue Nicholls, who plays Audrey Roberts, was Lord Harmar-Nicholls, Tory MP for Peterborough from 1950-74.

43 Her partner is Mark Eden, who played villainous Alan Bradley until the character met a sorry end under a Blackpool tram.

44 Jack and Vera Duckworth enjoyed The Street's longest marriage, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary shortly before Vera's death in January 2008.

45 The shortest marriage -- between Mike Baldwin and Jackie Ingram -- lasted just seven days, in 1991.

46 Tony Blair cashed in on the interest in a 1998 storyline involving the wrongful conviction of Deirdre Rachid. He said he'd ask Home Secretary Jack Straw to look into the case.

47 Almost £1m was spent on staging Monday's disaster.

48There have been seven overseas shoots. The first was in Majorca in 1974.

49 The last live episode was in December 2000 to mark the 40th anniversary.

50 Coronation Street was conceived because 23-year-old Warren was fed up writing Biggles scripts. He climbed on to his boss's filing cabinet, refusing to come down until he was allowed to write about a subject closer to his heart!


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