A title sequence is a segment of a television programme designed as an introduction to each episode. It typically takes the form of a short graphical sequence played against the show's theme music, presenting the programme's title, and often the names of key members of the production and cast.
In all there have been eight main title sequences in Coronation Street's history, with new versions debuting in 1960, 1964, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1990, 2002 and 2010. In most cases, the change has coincided with a change in production method (eg. colour, HD). Each one follows roughly the same formula of various shots of terraced streets representing the programme's setting of Weatherfield. Details of each sequence, their variations, and associated ad bumpers and end credits, are given below.
Coronation Street's first set of black and white titles (right) consists of an opening clip of rows of terraced houses, taken from a mill building on Ordsall Road in Salford with St. Clement's Church in the distance. The view then changes to a tilting-downwards shot of Archie Street in Salford, the terraced street which was Tony Warren and Denis Parkin's model for Coronation Street. The camera was placed at the Corner Shop end of the street - the only title sequence to do so - which helps to hide the differences between Archie and Coronation Streets. The programme logo appears over this shot.
There was a variant in this sequence in the form of the typeface in the logo from Episode 13 (20th January 1961) onwards to a condensed version of Times New Roman, otherwise the sequence remained the same.
Occasionally in the 1960s when the first scene of an episode was set in the street, the sequence would be cut short and the logo and music would play over the start of the scene instead. Many times in the decade some or all of the title sequence would be dispensed with if the Street set had been erected in the studio for the episodes in question (no outdoor set being built until 1968), Episode 95 (8th November 1961) and Episode 108 (25th December 1961) being examples. Similarly, on many early episodes which had overrun, the end credits were cut to remove the cast and production credits.
This sequence was used until Episode 336 (2nd March 1964) after which there was a three month period where there was no title film run and the programme title was shown exclusively over the opening scene or location.
New producer Tim Aspinall brought in a change in the sequence which was introduced with Episode 366 (15th June 1964) when the shot of Archie Street from the front was replaced by a view of a ginnel with a woman scrubbing the path in the background. This latter shot was filmed between Archie Street and Clement Street and the outline of the eastern end of St. Clement's Church can clearly be seen at the end of the ginnel as a car drives along Cavendish Street.
On occasion in the middle of the decade the title caption would be displayed over the opening scene of the episode, irrespective of where it took place and no title sequence would be run at all.
Also, around this time, the theme music was rerecorded with quieter bass, and a more mellow backing track.
In 1969, the show started being recorded and transmitted in colour and this necessitated a new title sequence which made its debut with Episode 930 (24th November 1969). This new sequence started with an establishing shot of a tower block, then panning over to rows of terraced houses while zooming in and then cutting to a ground-level shot of a generic terraced street.
The location of the opening shot was Grafton Court tower block on Clayton Close in Hulme, Manchester with the camera situated on the next door Clifford Court. The empty land in the distance to the right of Grafton Court as the sequence opens is in Hulme and Moss Side, whose streets had just been demolished in 1969. The industrial buildings immediately to the left of Grafton Court are on Cornbrook Street, Old Trafford (some of which are still there today) and the vast number of houses further left as the shot pans along are in the since-demolished area between Cornbrook Street, Shrewsbury Street and Stretford Road although the terraced streets further on beyond Shrewsbury Street and in the foggy distance are still extant.
Although the programme had an outdoor set when this sequence was shot, the wooden studio frontage which had been used in outdoor scenes since 1968 was being replaced by a brick set which would look better on the new colour cameras. The set was still being built when this title sequence was shot, and so Coronation Street does not appear in it.
The programme was first broadcast in colour for one week prior to the new sequence being utilised and as it does not seem to have been ready Episodes 928 and 929 broadcast on 17th and 19th November used a colour photocaption of a terraced street (usually used for the "Part Two" photocaption in the early colour years) at the start of the episode with the programme title superimposed on it. The programme graphics were yellow in colour but these were amended in early 1970 to white.
The next time Coronation Street changed its opening credits sequence, with Episode 1500 (11th June 1975), it included for the first time a shot of the actual outdoor set built next to the Granada studios, along with a series of close ups of chimneys of various terraced houses.
Letters written to the Manchester Evening News in 1982 identified several of the streets shown as being Duke Street and Ascension Street in the Lower Broughton area of Salford and the block of flats in the penultimate shot as being between Sussex Street and Harrison Street in the same district (the towers being named as Frank Cowan Court and Benjamin Wilson Court and since demolished). Compared to previous sequences, this was a relatively fast-moving montage of shots with eleven different shots. It would prove to be the shortest-lived regular sequence in the programme's history.
Incoming producer Bill Podmore was annoyed by the large number of shots within the limited time-frame when he took over the programme in 1976 as he related in his 1990 memoir Coronation Street - The Inside Story:
- "The quick-changing views over the slated rooftops of Salford...seemed to be out of time with the slow, haunting refrains of Eric Spear's signature tune.
- "I asked to see all the sequence film, shot years before in the back streets of Old Trafford and Lower Broughton. Although much of it lay on the cutting room floor, it was reassembled into a continuous film. Suddenly, on walked that wonderful cat. When it curled up in the spring sunshine I knew I had found the perfect clip. It looked exactly as though it had contentedly sat down to watch the programme, and from that the day the Coronation Street cat became almost as famous as any character on the show. It provided us with an enduring mystery, too. Any number of people, imposters all, insisted they were the owners, but its true identity was never discovered." (see below for more on the cat).
Under Podmore's direction the sequence was revamped to slow its pace down by removing most of the chimney shots and bringing forward the sixth shot, a distance shot over rows of terraced rooftops, to the forefront of the sequence. This depicted the Bradford and Beswick area of Manchester looking towards the north west from a vantage point near Ashton Old Road, probably taken from the high-rise "Fort Beswick" flats which stood in the area at the time, showing the Bradford Road gasworks in the distance. The main street running down the shot is Carmen Street intersected by Myrtle Street in the foreground and Morley Street further back. To the right of the picture a bus can be glimpsed travelling down Albert Street. The gasometer to the left has since been demolished, as have almost all of the buildings seen on screen and in their place the City of Manchester stadium, home to the 2002 Commonwealth Games and now called the Etihad Stadium, has been built in the middle distance between the camera vantage point and the remaining gasometer.
The new titles made their debut with Episode 1596 (3rd May 1976) and would be the longest-used titles by timeline in the programme's history, being used until 1990. Two minor changes to the sequence took place during this period, both of which saw the final shot of the Street being replaced. The first was with Episode 1768 (26th December 1977) following the refurbishment of the Rovers Return exterior, the second (more noticeably) to display the construction of a new outdoor set, a change which occurred from Episode 2210 (7th June 1982) onwards. Uniquely in this period, Episode 2631 on 18th June 1986 has its own special title sequence, showing various images of Manchester at dawn. The sequence was the last to open with a fade from the Granada television logo, a change which occurred in 1988.
Making its debut with Episode 3134 (15th October 1990), the title sequence received its first major revamp since the mid-1970s. Since 1988, Coronation Street had been fully videotaped, so in 1990 a new videotape sequence was recorded to replace the 1976 film sequence. The opening shot showed Alpha Street in the Langworthy district of Salford, looking south-east towards the blocks of flats on Rosehill Close with the jagged roofs of the factory building on Highfield Road between the two. Other shots in the sequence included Laburnum Street in the same district and streets in Bolton.
In the early 1990s, the sequence regularly ended with a shot from the Rovers end of the Street with a dog frantically running up the length of the Street, although as the decade went on this shot was often left out and it appeared for the last time in Episode 3819 (17th February 1995). Instead a differing number of shots of activity in the Street closed the sequence and if the opening scene was set on the Street, then the title caption appeared over the start of that scene. New producer Brian Park moved to regularise the sequence again and from Episode 4168 (30th March 1997) onwards the logo was superimposed over what had been the penultimate shot, that featuring the cat.
From Episode 4704 (24th October 1999), the title sequence began including writer and director credits, and the Coronation Street logo was moved to the start of the sequence rather than the end. Although timeline-wise, this sequence did not run as long as the 1976 version, its various incarnations were used on some 2000 episodes, whereas the former sequence appeared on 1537 episodes.
Changing production standards on Coronation Street in early 2002 saw the series recorded and transmitted in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, necessitating another new sequence which was introduced in Episode 5191 (7th January 2002). For the first time, only the purpose built set at Granada was used for recording, with most shots depicting Coronation Street itself. Improvements in CGI technology allowed a complex establishing shots of Coronation Street surrounded by other terraced streets, and the ginnel between Coronation and Mawdsley Streets to show the backyards of both rows of houses, as well as a glimpse of one of Greater Manchester's Metrolink trams passing over the viaduct. The real terraced streets used for the CGI was Newport Street and Pembroke Street in Salford.
As with the 1990 sequence from 1999, writer and director credits were carried in the title sequence, and the Coronation Street logo was displayed at the beginning.
When this sequence was introduced, Coronation Street was making a gradual move to five episodes a week, with two episodes transmitted on Mondays. Only the first episode transmitted on a single day contained a title sequence and ended with a caption stating "Coronation Street continues in half an hour", with the second episode opening with an ad-break photocaption. Occasionally, the end shot of the titles was changed, such as a shot of a milk float from the Corner Shop end of the street, set in the early morning. In Christmas 2007, most of the end credits were changed to a panning shot of the street set at night.
With the programme's move into high definition, a new title sequence was commissioned which made its debut not on screen but on the internet on 27th May 2010 on the Coronation Street pages of ITV.com. Within the programme it was first used on Episode 7351 (31st May 2010). This sequence incorporated shots of Manchester City Centre, including the Castlefield basin, before dissolving into shots of Coronation Street. At the insistence of new producer Phil Collinson, the Coronation Street logo was moved back to the very end of the sequence with the writer and director credit displayed over the opening shots of the action of the episode.
A small change occurred on 14th January 2013 - a small white ITV logo was added to the title card, this change was part of the ITV 2013 rebrand, ITV added their logo to all ITV Studios produced content. This change was reversed later in the year.
The technical explanation behind the sequence said:
- "Footage of the Street was captured using a Red One camera and then offlined in Final Cut Pro. "Space Digital"’s Simon Blackledge used in-house tools to conform in Nuke X before multi-layer 3D composites were created directly from the raw R3D files. A final grade was done using Apple Color."
Beginning with Episode 8339 (10th March 2014), the title sequence underwent a slight amendment to incorporate shots of the new set built at the programme's Media City Studios which had been in use since 9th January of that year and which made its debut within the narrative of the episodes in the same week in which the sequence had changed. The third and fifth shots were amended to show the new set and to deflect criticisms that they had been out of date following structural changes to the Corner Shop and Nick's Bistro after the December 2010 tram crash.
Today, the cat is seen as an essential ingredient in Coronation Street's opening title sequence, with four successive title sequences featuring one. As explained above, the cat first appeared by accident in the 1976 sequence. Viewers who lived in Lower Broughton wrote letters to the Manchester Evening News in 1982 insisting that the cat was called Whiskey and belonged to a Mrs Norma Royle of 21 Duchess Street. A photograph taken by a local newspaper showing Norma and her family with Whiskey was displayed in Ascension School until it closed. However Eric Rosser, the programme's then archivist, stated in a letter published in the same newspaper on 5th April that this section of the sequence, directed by Ken Grieve and filmed by cameraman Ray Goode, was shot off Ashton Old Road in Manchester in 1975 near the location of a business called Arnold's Garage and the name of the animal who just wandered into shot was unknown.
The cat became so popular that when the time came to replace the sequence in 1990, a competition was held on ITV's This Morning programme to cast a cat to star in the new montage. The winner was Frisky, owned by Jon-Paul Rimington of Leeds who was paid a one-off fee of £200 for his services. From the mid-1990s to 2001, the shot that included Frisky was the last shot of the sequence. Frisky was asked to make a lot of charitable appearances which were handled by Kevin Horkin who ran an animal agency and had organised the competition. The cat finally died in 2000.
With the cat firmly established as an expected feature of the title sequence, one featured in the versions introduced in both 2002 and 2010, although it was far more prominent in the latter version than the one preceding it.
The end credit sequence is also notable. It is a list of all actors and key production personnel who worked on the episode, with actors usually listed in order of appearance, although other orderings have frequently been used. If two or more episodes were broadcast on one day, only the final episode that day contained end credits, which contained overall cast credits rather than individual episodic credits.
Until recently, Coronation Street's ending credits had changed very little, usually consisting of an image of the Street, terraced rooftops or cobblestones, or, common in the mid-1970s, a black screen. Since 2000, most ITV programme end credits have been standarised (to allow for advertisements for other programs). The programme's credits have reverted to the generic ITV style used during the late 2000s, with just a black background with white credits text.
As ITV is a commercial channel, every episode of Coronation Street has had an advert break. The break is preceded and followed by an 'End of Part One' and 'Part Two' photocaption respectively (although since 2002 the captions have simply read Coronation Street). For some episodes, particularly in the mid to late 1970s and parts of the 1980s, there was no photo caption at all, with the 'End of Part One' and the 'Part Two' words and music played over the respective scenes of the particular episode. This practice has begun to be used again for some episodes in 2012.
Until 2010, with some exceptions, the 'End of Part One' music has been a unique three bar tune, however the 'Part Two' music used has been the main opening title music, albeit faded out after three or four bars. Since 2010, both the 'End of Part One' and the 'Part Two' music have been a shortened arrangement of the main opening title music.