MPs encourage Boris Johnson to visit Coronation Street to mark show’s 60 years

Boris Johnson has been told to make his first visit to Coronation Street, as MPs commemorated the soap’s 60th anniversary in the House of Commons.

Labour’s Tracy Brabin, who played Tricia Armstrong on the show between 1994 and 1997, said Corrie is as much a part of British culture as “a nice cuppa, a fish and chip supper or sitting down to the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day”.

Other MPs recalled famous scenes from the soap, with “ardent” fan and Conservative former minister Conor Burns making a suggestion for Mr Johnson.

Conor Burns suspension
Conor Burns suspension

He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has yet to visit Coronation Street and I hope that is something he will rectify for those of us who are dedicated fans take great offence at the fact that as mayor of London he went to the inferior EastEnders, but has not yet paid tribute to Coronation Street.

“The 60th anniversary would be a good occasion for the Prime Minister to go up to Coronation Street and say thank you on behalf of the Government and the United Kingdom.”

Mr Burns also noted one of his “most prized possessions” is a cobble from the original street, which he now uses as a paperweight.

Opening the debate, Ms Brabin said: “Since those early days on the street, we’ve witnessed one or two things happen to the people of Weatherfield over the decades, many things.

“Since then, those famous cobbles have been the stage to storylines that have gripped our country.

“We’ve cried together, gasped together, laughed together and learned together. Iconic storylines that cause a nation to take a breather from their busy lives, make a cuppa and pop Corrie on the telly.”

Ms Brabin also hailed Corrie for having “bravely challenged us and our way of thinking with ground-breaking” storylines.

She explained: “Those stories that we have heard of have helped untold numbers to understand their own personal difficulties, to speak out and get help if they needed it.

“Hayley, the first ever transgender British soap character, portrayed wonderfully by my good friend Julie Hesmondhalgh, who gripped us right to the end when she committed suicide in Roy’s arms.”

MP portraits
MP portraits

Ms Brabin continued: “To pick up on a couple of the other stories – Aidan’s suicide which led to more calls to the Samaritans than they’ve ever had, Shona’s memory loss, revenge porn, racism, with the writers working closely with Doreen Lawrence to make it authentic and to give that credibility.

“James, a young gay footballer struggling against homophobia and right up to the recent day with Bethany Platt’s sexual exploitation, David Platt’s male rape ordeal, Jasmine’s marital coercive control and in recent days, the sad death of baby Oliver.

“Never shying away from a difficult storyline and shining a light into lived experience of others is what our soap operas do best. They strive to inform as well as to entertain.”

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle
House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley, also told the debate: “It’s interesting with Coronation Street – they always talk about going to Chorley Market because they know the good value of Chorley Market.

“The other thing is Ken Morley is from Chorley, just one of the few stars that’s been in Coronation Street.

“And at home I’ve got the tray from Newton and Ridley that was off the set of Coronation Street.

“Both myself and (Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans) were on a politics show where we had to guess so many questions. Guess who won? I got the tray.”

Greg Smith, Conservative MP for Buckingham, described the show as an “escapism”.

He noted: “After a busy day in this place I can often be found on the train back to Buckinghamshire watching Corrie on my iPad.”

Conservative Peter Gibson (Darlington) added: “Turning to Roy Cropper, I’m sure that with Roy’s enthusiasm for the railways that he would be keen to support the campaign in Darlington to save Locomotion No. 1.”

Concluding the debate, Culture minister John Whittingdale said MPs had spoken with real admiration and affection for what is “undoubtedly the world’s greatest soap”.