Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Book Review: 50 years on the Street by Bill Roache

William Roache has been part of Coronation Street since the very first episode in December 1960, when he first appeared playing the character of Ken Barlow. Here he reflects on half a century of treasured memories accumulated during his time working on the long-running soap, revisits the program's most memorable moments, and ponders the secret of its success, while exploring the history of the show from its very early days of live broadcasts to the demands of its 2010 schedule. Roache reveals what it is like to have played the perennially popular role of Ken Barlow and reflects upon the actors he has worked with during the past 50 years, providing insights and anecdotes galore.

My Review:
I chose to read this book of Bill's because it focused mainly on his time in Coronation Street and there was a lot of information about behind the scenes, the fights and the funny things, and his relationships with the rest of the cast. He talks bluntly about his doubts over certain storylines that Ken was involved in and how he fought to defend his character if the writers tried to give him something that he felt Ken wouldn't do. I liked seeing that motivation for change and I found it interesting to see his insights into how his character evolved through the years.

He does briefly mention his spiritual beliefs a few times but it plays a very minor role in this book, and was used to explain decisions and doubts about his career path. He doesn't try to ram his beliefs down your throat so don't be put off the book if that kind of thing doesn't interest you.

There is a lot of detail about the time he sued the newspaper The Sun for libel over articles about Ken being boring. I remember this being in the paper at the time and it dominated the media for weeks. Bill admits that he was wrong to take the legal action which left him bankrupt despite winning his case. He admits that he should have accepted the offered out of court settlement but didn't because his ego had been bruised and his lawyers thought he could get a bigger payout. The damages awarded were what he had been offered by the paper as settlement and he had to pay all the legal costs which wiped him out financially. Talk about the law being an ass? Having the victim pay the losers costs seems barmy to me, it really does.

Bill is also blunt about what he thought of the 1964 cull of characters and how he was saved from the chop by a new director. He was not happy at seeing friends lose their job because a director wanted to make a name for himself or because writers couldn't think up a new story for them. He talks about the sad deaths of cast members, his fight with Pat Phoenix that lasted two years and the highs and lows of the street.

Fascinating book and a must for Corrie fans to read! 
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png

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