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Early Days is the first of a trilogy of books which novelise the scripts for Coronation Street 's initial three years and was first published in paperback by Mayflower Books (an imprint of Granada publishing) on 10th June 1976.
The book begins on New Year’s Day 1961 with Christine Hardman dealing with the death of her mother May Hardman the day before. Events which featured in the programme's first seven episodes, transmitted in 1960, are dealt with as references to the past with one exception: Linda Cheveski being reconciled with husband Ivan is moved to January 1961 from December 1960 as it featured on television.
Not all of the storylines featured in the programme in its first full year are transposed to the book. The wedding of Joan Walker to Gordon Davies does at feature at all and the character of Tom Hayes, Esther’s brother is only mentioned fleetingly; Jed Stone and Jean Stark are likewise omitted from the narrative.
Events which are featured in the book at some length are as follows:
- Arnold Tanner (and Norah Dawson's) request for a divorce from Elsie Tanner.
- The evacuation of the Street to the Mission of Glad Tidings when there a possibility of a gas explosion due to a leaking mains.
- Ena Sharples' mistake over the supposed demolition of the Street and the resident's Whit Monday trip to Blackpool.
- Ken Barlow's infatuation with Marian Lund (spelled "Marion" in the book) and his meeting Valerie Tatlock.
- Dennis Tanner’s attempts to enter showbusiness.
- The death of Ida Barlow.
- The courtship and marriage of Harry Hewitt and Concepta Regan.
- Elsie Tanner's poison pen letter (although the famous confrontation in the Street between Elsie and Ena is diminished to a few short lines in the Rovers).
The Street’s second outing to Blackpool to see the illuminations is dealt with in a few pages and contains an in-joke when Kershaw writes in Chapter Seven:
- "Blackpool Illuminations are, in more ways than one, the highlight of the Northern autumn season. This year they had been switched on by the cast of a well-known television programme but the regulars of the Rover’s Return decided, in view of the expected crowds, not to make their annual pilgrimage on the opening night. Instead they chose a Thursday evening at the end of October."
Readers with long memories or those in the know would indeed remember that on 8th September 1961 the illuminations had been switched on by Violet Carson, watched by the entire cast of Coronation Street!
The book was promoted by an interview by Bob Greaves with Kershaw on the North West news programme Granada Reports on 9th June 1976 which also featured the views of Episode 1 veterans William Roache, Doris Speed, Jack Howarth and Patricia Phoenix on the way that the programme had developed in the intervening sixteen years. It was also successful enough to be issued in hardback by White Lion Publishers in January 1977 and to spawn two sequels: Trouble at the Rovers (November 1976) and Elsie Tanner Fights Back (June 1977).