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There’s a Wedding in the Street

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1977 special

There’s a Wedding in the Street was the third of four specials published by TV Times about the programme. The 68-page magazine went on sale on Friday 15th April 1977, just before the week in which Episodes 1696 and 1697 which featured the much anticipated wedding of Len Fairclough and Rita Littlewood were broadcast.

Like its 1967 counterpart, which featured the wedding of Elsie and Steve Tanner, the magazine was heavy on specially-taken photographs and began with two major features on the life histories of the bride and groom. Other wedding-focussed articles included one on Rita choosing her dress, the couple shopping for rings and Len buying his suit for the big day.

All the main previous weddings on the programme were included in a retrospective as well as profiles of the regular cast of characters in 1977. Peter Adamson and Barbara Mullaney were interviewed at length and, typical of TV Times of that period, their resident astrologer Roger Elliot looked at the stars of the happy couple with a series of predictions for the next three years...none of which came true.

The centre pages of the magazine were all in colour and were a "wedding album" of photographs. Like the 1967 magazine, these photographs had to be taken several weeks before the televised wedding scenes were actually recorded as more time was needed to enable the publishers to go to press than the filming schedule allowed. The cast assembled at All Saint's Church on Barton Road, Stretford in the same clothes that they would be wearing several weeks later when the scenes would be shot on location in the church followed by the studio scenes but then a major problem occurred...

As producer Bill Podmore related in his 1990 memoirs Coronation Street: The Inside Story, Patricia Phoenix was "furious" about the wedding storyline:

Pat saw the presence of a single Len Fairclough as an integral part of her own character's image. Though they had never married Pat always saw the situation as Len and Elsie, a couple never to be split, and reacted as if a part of her own life was being cut away. It seemed that she simply couldn't be rational about the matter. It was more than she could handle emotionally, and the day the wedding was shot, she sent a message to the studio and the church where it was being filmed, to say that she was ill.
I couldn't believe it then, and I still don't. Pat was such a trouper she would have crawled to the studios on her hands and knees over broken glass rather than admit any illness had beaten her. Sickness was not a word in her vocabulary.
1977 wedding

Elsie Tanner appears as a blur at the wedding in the pews behind the bride and groom

A hasty re-write of the episode then ensued to write Elsie out of scenes inside and outside the fictional St. Mary's Church although she did appear at the televised reception. TV Times had a major issue though as she was prominently at the church in the photographs taken several weeks before. Podmore relates that "in a clever bit of cutting, Elsie was given the chop" and refers to a group photograph where the character has been eliminated from her position between Annie Walker and Alf Roberts saying that "a couple of paving stones are distinctly narrower than the rest" as the portrait was condensed. He doesn't refer to some other pictures taken inside the church where Elsie is prominently on view in the pews behind the bride and groom and, in the days before such tools as photoshop were available, the editors had no choice but to carry out a hasty painting out of the actress's features and hope that readers wouldn't notice.

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