Coronation Street is celebrating 60 years - these are the longest running cast members

The cobbles of Coronation Street have been home to some of Britain’s most iconic TV moments.

The ITV show celebrates its 60th anniversary on 9 December, making it the world’s longest running TV soap.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

So who featured in the first episode, how did it all begin and are any of the Corrie originals still on screen? Let’s find out. 

When did Coronation Street first air?

Older viewers will be able to reminisce about the first time the original cast appeared on our screens, as it aired on ITV on 9 December 1960. 

The programme was first produced by Granada Productions and created by Tony Warren and was watched in 3.5 million homes across the country.

The original cast included Corrie legends such as Elsie Tanner, Rover’s return barmaid Annie Walker and a 28-year-old Ken Barlow, alongside Corrie’s original bad guy, Dennis Tanner. 

What happened in the first episode?

The debut episode introduced viewers to some of the main characters who would become iconic residents on the Weatherfield cobbles. 

At 1 Coronation Street, Ken Barlow argued with his parents, Ida and Frank, after Frank implied Ken was ashamed of his family and was trying to be middle-class. 

At the time, Ken was at university and dating a fellow student, Susan Cunningham. 

Meanwhile, at number 11, Elsie Tanner argued with her son, Dennis, about getting a job. Dennis had just been released from prison for theft and Elsie accused him of stealing money from her. 

In the Rover’s Return Inn, viewers were first acquainted with Annie Walker, the no nonsense barmaid who would continue to run the pub until her departure in 1984. 

She favoured Ken over Dennis, which led to Dennis attempting to rile Ken, accusing him of being a snob for attending university. 

The soap has since gone on to tackle some of the big issues of the day, from domestic abuse to transgender relationships and more recently, child bereavement. 

Who are the longest running characters? 

Ken Barlow - William Roache

William Roache is the only Coronation Street original to still feature in the show. 

He was married to Deidre (Anne Kirkbride) until her passing in 2014 and was part of the Ken and Deidre love triangle,as Deidre had a famous affair with Mike Baldwin. 

Quite the womaniser, he joined the show aged 28 and, at 84 years old,now plays the role of a loving grandad and gentleman. 

He has now moved to a retirement home in the show, but Bill has claimed he will never formally retire from the cobbles. 

Emily Bishop - Eileen Derbyshire

First appearing in January 1961, Emily Bishop was a warm and endearing character who remained on the street for nearly 58 years.

She first retired on New Years Day 2016, but reappeared for some time between 2018 and 2019. 

Rita Tanner - Barbara Knox

In December 1964, Rita graced our screens and has remained ever since. 

She is best known for running the corner shop with nosey resident, Norris, and celebrated her 10,000 episode in 2020. 

Although she is not as regular a cast member now, she will feature in the 60th Anniversary episode.

Peter Barlow - Chris Gascoyne 

Not long after his dad, Ken, debuted, Peter Barlow was introduced in 1965 and has featured in many iconic storylines since. 

Recently, he has been the innocent bystander of a messy affair between his partner, Carla Connor and nephew, Adam. 

He has also followed in his father’s footsteps, having affairs with his son’s nannie among other tumultuous relationships.

Gail Rodwell (Platt) - Helen Worth

Although Dennis Tanner and Jed Stone trump Helen in terms of time on the programme, they took considerable sabbaticals  and have not featured in as many episodes. 

Gail joined Coronation Street in 1974 and is still a popular member of the cast. 

She has faced her fair share of trials and tribulations, including being driven into the canal with her son and daughter, David and Sarah-Louise, by her mad-man husband, Richard. 

She also tackled the storyline of teenage pregnancy in the early 2000s when her onscreen daughter, Sarah-Louise (Tina O’Brien) fell pregnant at 14. 

Is there a special anniversary show?

After 10,168 episodes, the week commencing 7 December has seen special hour-long episodes, with explosive scenes.

There will be an hour-long episode of the show on 9 December, which starts at 7.30pm on ITV and another will air on Friday.

Viewers can expect Yazmeen’s trial verdict and a face off with her ex-partner Geoff, who has convinced others that she attacked him. 

However, it has been made clear to viewers that she has been the victim of domestic abuse. 

Rita, Audrey and Ken will also feature in the anniversary episodes, as the longest serving members of the cast still in Weatherfield.

A special documentary show, Coronation Street: 60 Unforgettable years, is also available now on ITV Hub.