The world's longest-running, most popular soap opera, ITV's Coronation Street, has been a stop for some of Britain's best actors, including Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Ben Kingsley (and if you ever meet Sir Ben, make sure you call him "Sir" or you'll be in trouble).
William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, has been on the show since its beginning in 1960, and there are fans all over the world who have been following the show since then.
Employees at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation attest that the times they get the most audience feedback are the flood of complaints they receive whenever a Coronation Street episode gets pre-empted.
With such tremendous popularity, it was only a matter of time before the show was turned into a stage musical and Street of Dreams will be playing at Manchester's MEN arena next year. The choice of premier is appropriate, since the series takes place in the fictional working-class Manchester suburb of Weatherfield.
You can hear some of the tunes from Street of Dreams at this link.
Or buy tickets here if you're planning a trip to Manchester in March - it may not be Paris in Springtime, but what the hey?
And here are a few of my Coronation Street confessions. Obviously I watch the show. It started by accident. My mother used to watch it when I was a kid, and I would run out of the room whenever it was on, completely uninterested in the ugly people with their incomprehensible accents on the TV screen.
Then years later, when I was in my early 20's and had a job that got me home late at night, I used to set the VCR to tape Dallas, the reruns of which CBC used to rebroadcast daily. Dallas was my one soap opera guilt pleasue, all because of Larry Hagman's J.R., who was one of the small screen's all-time great villains.
On one shift to (or from, I can't remember now) Daylight Savings Time that I didn't account for, I accidentally taped Coronation Street instead of Dallas. There was nothing else on TV at the time of night I'd get home so, though bitterly disappointed in missing my Dallas episode and distasteful memories of Coronation Street notwithstanding, I pressed the 'play 'button.'
And I've been hooked ever since. Coronation Street features gritty working-class English people, realistically ugly and facing petty. stupid problems that are the complete opposite of the uninteresting US soap operas filled with implausible, glamorous characters and absurd plot-lines.
One warning about Coronation Street. It's a dangerous place. It must have the highest murder rate of any residential street in England. Someone seems to get knocked off there at least once every other year.
I have a snobbish friend in England who admonishes me not to admit out loud that I'm a fan of the show. According to her, being a Coronation Street watcher is "appallingly lower class" and uncool. It may be, but here in North America, we don't have the same class fixations as in England. As to being uncool, quite possibly, but I and millions of others of the uncool love our show and I refuse to be any more ashamed of it than of my fondness for Quarter Pounders with Cheese!