R.I.P – Coronation Street Creator Tony Warren

Tony Warren

As first announced by the official UK soap Coronation Street Twitter account this morning, we are sorry to also share in the sad news of series creator Tony Warren’s departure. An ITV spokesman said Tony passed away surrounded by his loving friends after a short illness. He was 79 years old.

Tony Warren, who earned the title MBE and as well as a BAFTA in his long career, was not just a television screenwriter. Warren was also a stage actor, created a host of television dramas, and returned to the public eye with a series of critically acclaimed novels in the 1990s, including “The Lights of Manchester” and “Behind Closed Doors.” Openly gay, Warren was the object of highly publicized homophobia early in his career. He has also long since been rehabilitated from alcohol and drug problems.

Warren, of course, created one of the most successful and longest running TV shows of all time in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. Actor William Roache, who has remarkably played Ken Barlow since the show began in 1960, said Tony would be “so desperately missed,” and that he was “the father of the soap.” Helen Worth, also known as another long-playing character Gail McIntyre, said Warren was “a genius of our time. The dearest, funniest and most inspirational man of his generation. He brought real life into our homes for us all to relate to and enjoy. He will, of course, live on forever through Coronation Street.”

Warren first voiced his inspiration for the show back in 1959. He awakened one night with an idea for a TV series about a small back street in Salford (the town where he was born in 1936) with a pub at one end and a shop at the other. UK viewers have known this as an iconic setting for decades now. Coronation Street was commissioned by Granada in 1960 and has been one of the UK’s biggest series since. Warren was heavily involved in the writing of the episodes right up until 1968 and has always been around to give creative input. He even made a cameo appearance in the soap’s 50th anniversary episode which ran live in December 2010.

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