The North is a different place, isn’t it?

Warren’s mischievous flamboyance was perhaps the result of his early induction into showbusiness. His grandfather had started the family’s performing tradition by becoming a champion clog dancer in Eccles, and his father George, a multilingual fruit importer from Manchester, carried it on. A former major in the Intelligence Corps during the First World War, Warren’s father supplemented the family income by playing the musical saw in his band the George Simpson Tonics Dance Orchestra.

How do you explain “champion clog dancer”, or even Eccles, to anyone not from the North?

And there was a time when the education system knew what it was doing:

Born Anthony McVay Simpson on July 8 1936 at Eccles, now Greater Manchester, Tony Warren was educated at Clarendon Road primary and Eccles grammar schools, where he was bullied for being “posh” and for “not liking rough games”. His remedy was to play truant and he stayed away “for almost a year, almost every day” by mimicking his mother’s voice on the telephone in calls to the school secretary. When he was finally traced to the local library, Tony’s headmaster asked him what he had been looking at and gave him a further reading list.

There was even a time when the BBC knew what it was doing:

Aged 12 he wrote to the producers of the BBC’s Children’s Hour to tell them that he was better than any of the child actors they were using. His subsequent audition earned him radio work which lasted through his teens, and brought him some theatre, film and television roles.

And this is wondrous:

Expelled from stage school for rabble-rousing, at 17 Warren ran away to London

How can you rabble rouse in a stage school?

This is a bit trite:

Warren was proud of having created Coronation Street, and of having fans of the calibre of the poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who likened the soap to The Pickwick Papers. When the Queen – herself apparently a fan – visited the new Coronation Street set at the Granada studios in 1983, she asked Warren: “Where is the real Coronation Street?” He replied: “In the hearts and minds of your subjects, Ma’am.”

But a good innings overall, a very good innings.

10 thoughts on “The North is a different place, isn’t it?”

  1. Weird isn’t it. Born in the NW near Southport, lived in Newcastle; for one awful year in London and now in West Yorkshire. I have never seen a single episode of Coronation St. Or Eastenders.

  2. I happened to catch the very first episode of Coronation Street which was intriguing but not really my thing. Quite a few years later I did follow it quite closely when it was closely observed, wryly humorous and not much happened. I remember an episode when a chap died when watching a bowls match. One of the older women in the series had started a gentle courtship with him. It was a scene handled with sensitivity and quietness. It was very moving. Then there was the episode when Ken left Wendy (I think it was) to go back to his wife. No hysterics or fights. She just let fall a silent tear. Again very moving because so understated. Now I avoid it like the plague, or like Eastenders – same thing – shrieking fishwives and thuggish blokes. I suppose a tribute to state education and feminism.

  3. Daedalus

    “Born in the NW near Southport” is about as curious a phrase as I have read for a while. When in the North East did you by any chance live in Newcastle near to Whitley Bay? 

  4. Yes, championship clog dancing is seldom seen in Carshalton Beeches though I gather Fred Dibnah was very popular in those latitudes when he was in his pomp.

    The impressive thing about Warren is that he had a viable prototype of Corrie fully formed by the time he was 23 and that it has worked ever since.

  5. My memory of Coronation St in my teenage years was (i) it moved very slowly, so you could do homework on your knee, looking up occasionally to see if there had been any progress, (ii) on the whole it took a warm view of life, (ii) it had the merits mikef described above.

    For a mass show, really pretty darn good.

    Just the opposite of the appalling Eastenders, in fact. Though that might reflect, in part, the difference between Lancastrians and Cockneys.

  6. “Multilingual fruit importer”? Not sure why the multilingual bit is necessary, or clear. Did he import multilingual fruit or did he import fruit and also spoke many languages?

    “Tall fruit importer” or “dark haired fruit importer” would have been equally as meaningless.

  7. Emmerdale Farm used to follow the Corrie model, then lurched into Eastenders mode, or even ’24’ mode, with plane crashes and various massacres unlikely in a remote Derbyshire farming community.

    Plus they dropped the ‘Farm’ bit, presumably to be “more relevant”, despite the show being primarily about farms.

  8. Ironman.

    Comes from tying to type on a 7″ tablet. Economy is needed.
    In the NE I lived in Walker, Heaton and Gosforth. Mother in law still lives in Tynemouth.

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