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Charlie Dickinson (1971 character)

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Charlie Dickinson
Occupation Retired Trade Unionist
First appearance 16th June 1971
Number of appearances 1
Played by Bill Owen

Charlie Dickinson was a retired militant Trade Unionist who was recommended by Ken Barlow to Stan Ogden when he felt victimised by employers Len Fairclough and Ray Langton in the Builder's Yard. Stan had formed his own union, first called the “Stanley Ogden District Union” at Ray’s advice but quickly changed to the “Stanley Ogden Labour Organisation” when Ken pointed out that the acronym of the first choice was SODU, Ken himself being tired of being called a NUT for his membership of the National Union of Teachers.

Charlie came to 11 Coronation Street and immediately asked a puzzled “Brother Ogden” to examine his cranium, pointing out the scars from past battles including a fight outside the docks in 1920 and another wound from an encounter with a scab outside a colliery. He threatened that if Len and Ray got awkward, he would make the 1926 General Strike look like, “a dowager’s tea party”.

The meeting with Len and Ray was “convened” in the Yard and Len was elected chairman. Charlie spoke of the “dreadful working conditions” in the Yard that this “outstanding” example of a working man had to endure (a description which caused a gasp of astonishment from Ray). Charlie demanded a specially-built toilet with double-texture paper supplied and proper tea-making facilities. Ray was angry at the way things were developing but Len knew the Unionist of old and had something of a friendly respect for him. Nevertheless, he knew that beneath Charlie’s bluster was a lack of preparation and awareness and he confined the negotiations to pay, offering £1 per week over the agreed national union rate backdated to the previous week’s salary owing. Charlie and Stan were pleased at their victory but Hilda was less so when she saw Stan’s first pay packet under the new arrangement and realised that he was £1 short. Len and Ray pointed out that they had already been paying Stan £2 over the national rate and he had therefore agreed to a pay cut!

Charlie was played by veteran character actor Bill Owen, one year before he made his debut as Compo in "The Last of the Summer Wine", which later became the world's longest running sitcom.

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